1997-98: Analyses of Data from Graduate Study in Psychology

Tonja M. Murray, Steven Williams
APA Center for Workforce Studies
April 1999
Report Text

The 1998 Graduate Study in Psychology (see Appendix) was mailed to 625 Chairs of U.S. and Canadian graduate departments of psychology in October 1997. Overall, 430 surveys were received and used for the publication of the 1998 edition.

The current report summarizes the results of analyses of the data collected during this effort. All data are reported in the aggregate and cannot be used to identify specific universities, colleges, schools, departments, or individuals.

The information contained in this report includes demographic characteristics of faculty and first-year psychology graduate students, as well as application, acceptance, and enrollment characteristics of U.S. graduate departments of psychology. It also includes admission and graduation requirements, tuition information, and information on financial support available to U.S. graduate students in psychology.


Readers should be aware of the possible sources of error when using the information from this report. The analyses are based on a subset of departments, those responding to the survey, rather than the entire population. It is noteworthy that these data are in line with both previous data collection efforts conducted by APA, as well as the results of national surveys. There was considerable variability in both the provision and entry of data over which this office had no control. The data have been carefully reviewed and cleaned, and any necessary follow-up with departments occurred prior to analysis. However, these data should not be used as the sole source for decision making and the reader is urged to locate other data sources to bolster any discussions or applications.

Demographic Characteristics of Faculty in Graduate Departments of Psychology

Faculty in U.S. graduate departments of psychology. As seen in Table 1, 35% of full-time faculty employed in public institutions were women. Women also represented similar numbers in private institutions. Among traditional and professional schools, women represented 35% and 41% of full-time faculty, respectively (see Table 2). According to Table 3 and Table 4, 35% percent of the overall faculty in doctoral-level programs and 38% of the overall faculty in master's-level programs were women. Since 1981, the percentage of women among faculty in U.S. graduate departments of psychology has increased from 21% to 35% (see Figure 1) (Gehlmann, Wicherski, & Kohout, 1995).

Since 1981, there has been a 17% decrease in the number of male faculty employed full-time by U.S. institutions (Gehlmann et al., 1995). As seen in Table 1, and Figure 1, male faculty made up 65% of all full-time faculty. Similarly, as seen in Tables 3 and 4, men accounted for 65% and 62% of faculty in doctoral and terminal master's programs, respectively.

Graduate departments of psychology were predominantly staffed by full-time faculty. Table 3 and Table 4 indicate that in 1997-98, 73% of faculty in U.S. doctoral departments and 72% in U.S. terminal master's departments were full time. Eighty-three percent of faculty in public doctoral programs were full time, while only 57% of faculty in private doctoral programs were full time. Likewise, more than three quarters of the faculty in public master's programs were full time, while full-time faculty in private master's programs represented slightly more than half.

In 1993, racial/ethnic minority faculty represented approximately 9% of all full-time faculty (Gehlmann et al., 1995). As shown in Table 5 minority faculty comprised 10% of all current full-time faculty. Private institutions had a slightly higher representation of full-time minority faculty (12%) than public institutions (9%). The number of minority faculty in U.S. institutions has generally remained constant over the past 10 years, with minor fluctuations ranging from 1%-5% since 1981 (Gehlmann, et al., 1995). In 1997-98, 19% of full-time faculty in professional programs were minorities (see Table 6). However, minorities represented approximately 10% of full-time faculty in U.S. doctoral and terminal master's departments, respectively (see Table 7 and Table 8).

Faculty in Canadian graduate departments of psychology. Staffing patterns in Canadian graduate departments of psychology were very similar to U.S. graduate departments (see Table 1). Seventy-four percent of faculty in Canadian doctoral departments and 67% of faculty in Canadian master's departments were full time (see Table 3 and Table 4). Of these percentages, slightly more than one quarter of the faculty were women. Minorities represented 2% of all full-time Canadian faculty (see Table 5).

The numbers of female faculty employed both full- and part-time in U.S. departments of psychology have steadily increased over the past 20 years. In addition, the numbers of ethnic and racial minorities has also increased, although at a slower pace. Finally, the numbers of male faculty employed in both U.S. and Canadian departments of psychology has decreased.

Demographic Characteristics of First-Year Graduate Students in Psychology

First-Year Graduate Students in U.S. Departments of Psychology. In 1997-98, 81% of first-year students were enrolled full time and 73% of these students were enrolled in a doctoral program (see Table 9). Past enrollment data indicate that female enrollees are slowly outnumbering male enrollees in graduate departments of psychology. In 1977, for example, women received 25% of all doctorates awarded in psychology, whereas in 1996, women represented 40% of the total doctorate recipients in psychology. However, the same year, men represented only 60% of doctoral recipients; a 20% decrease since 1977 (Henderson, et al., 1998). In 1997-98, women represented 66% and 77% of first-year enrollees in doctoral and master's programs, respectively (see Table 9 and Figure 2). Furthermore, as seen in Table 10, women represented 62% of doctoral students and 65% of master's students enrolled part time for the 1997-98 academic year.

As indicated in Table 9, racial and ethnic minority students represented approximately 18% of first-year enrollments. Of those enrolled, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American students comprised 7%, 5%, 6%, and 1%, respectively, of the total first-year enrollments for both master's and doctoral programs.

First-Year Graduate Students in Canadian Departments of Psychology. A higher proportion of first-year women enrollees, compared to first-year male enrollees, were found in Canadian graduate departments of psychology. These women represented 70% of first-year full-time enrollments (see Table 9). Eighty-six percent of first-year part-time students were also women (see Table 10). Ethnic/racial minorities constituted approximately 5% of first-year full-time enrollments, with Hispanic enrollees representing the highest proportion of minorities at 4% (see Table 9).

Overall, the numbers of women who are entering into the field of psychology and graduating with advanced degrees are increasing while the numbers of men entering the field are decreasing. Likewise, the numbers of racial and ethnic minorities in psychology are also increasing. Similar trends were found in Canadian departments of psychology.

Application, Acceptance, and Enrollment Characteristics of U.S. Graduate Departments of Psychology

Since 1975, the overall enrollment in U.S. graduate psychology programs has increased by 47% (National Science Foundation, 1999). In 1997-98, 77% of all graduate students in departments of psychology were enrolled full time in either a master's or a doctoral program (see Table 11).

In 1991, the overall acceptance rate for U.S. psychology graduate programs was 22% (Kohout & Wicherski, 1993). Since that time, Table 11 indicates that the acceptance rate has generally remained the same (24%). Both doctoral and master's programs have followed similar trends. In 1997-98, the acceptance rate for U.S. doctoral programs was 19% – a 36% increase since 1991. Increases in the acceptance rates for master's programs were not as for dramatic as doctoral programs. Specifically, in 1997-98, the acceptance rate for master's programs was 48% – only a 2% increase since 1991. Enrollment rates for U.S. doctoral and master's programs in 1997-98 were 66% and 74%, respectively. Compared with enrollment rates for 1991, these rates represented an increase of 6% for doctoral students and a 4% decrease for master's students (Kohout & Wicherski, 1993). These increases in overall acceptances and enrollments of students in psychology graduate programs coincide with previous trends in enrollment (see Table 11).

According to Table 11 and Table 12, 77% of the students enrolled in a doctoral program were enrolled in an APA-accredited PhD program revealing the continued popularity of the practice fields in psychology. Of all APA-accredited programs, clinical PhD programs had the highest percentage of enrollees (72%), followed by counseling programs (16%), school psychology programs (10%) and combined programs (1%), respectively. Approximately 17% of all students in a doctoral program were enrolled in an APA-accredited PsyD program, and of those enrolled in an accredited PsyD program, 90% were enrolled in a clinical program (see Table 15). Acceptance and enrollment rates for APA-accredited programs were similar to previous findings regarding overall acceptance and enrollment rates. Specifically, accredited PhD programs had an overall acceptance rate of 11% (see Table 12), however, PsyD programs had an acceptance rate of 29% (see Table 15). Both PhD and PsyD programs had almost equal enrollment rates, 57% and 59%, respectively.

Table 16  illustrates a noteworthy finding. That is, the acceptance rate for all traditional clinical programs (both APA accredited and non-accredited) in 1998 was 12% while professional clinical programs accepted 34% of their applicants. Furthermore, the total enrollment of new applicants in all traditional clinical programs was more than double the enrollments for all professional clinical programs. Traditional clinical programs also awarded more than double the number of degrees awarded by professional clinical programs.

In 1998, the overall acceptance rate for U.S. clinical, counseling, and school programs was 17% (see Table 17). The number of students accepted into a clinical, counseling, or school psychology doctoral graduate program has steadily increased over the past seven years (Kohout & Wicherski, 1993). Furthermore, data from Table 17 suggest that the enrollment rate for a doctoral program in a health service provider field in 1998 was approximately 60%, while in 1993, the overall enrollment rate was 67% (Kohout & Wicherski, 1993). Students enrolled in health service provider fields constituted 59% of the total graduate student population (see Table 17). The remaining 41% were enrolled in non-health service provider fields, including behavioral, cognitive, developmental, experimental, industrial/organizational, and social psychology programs.

According to Table 19, public institutions accounted for 46% of the students enrolled in health service provider fields while private institutions accounted for 54%. Non-health service provider fields yielded similar information with 63% and 37% of students in public and private institutions, respectively.

In general, acceptance and enrollment rates for graduate departments of psychology have steadily increased. Interest in advanced education has increased which is evident by the constantly rising enrollment rates. Overall, traditional schools have remained popular and professional schools have seen an increase in overall enrollment.

Admission and Graduation Requirements for U.S. Graduate Departments of Psychology

Seventy-three percent and 72% of doctoral programs required the GRE-verbal and GRE-quantitative exams, respectively, while 61% of terminal master's programs required both exams (see Table 21). According to Table 22 and Table 24, public and private institutions also reported the GRE-Verbal and Quantitative exams and overall undergraduate GPA as the most common requirements for admission.

The most common requirements for admission into terminal master's programs were the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) - Verbal minimum score of 480, the GRE - Quantitative minimum score of 480, and minimum overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.90 (see Table 21). These requirements were also the most common for admission into doctoral programs (see Table 23). Specifically, responding doctoral programs required a minimum GRE verbal score of 536, a minimum GRE quantitative score of 540 and a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.05.

Traditional and professional programs required the same types tests for admission, but each had different score requirements. Specifically, 77% of traditional programs required both the GRE- Verbal and Quantitative exams with minimums of 536 and 540, respectively, while only 38% of professional programs required these exams for admission. Professional program minimum scores for both the GRE-Verbal and GRE-Quantitative exams were 550. Both types of programs required similar overall undergraduate GPAs for admission (see Table 25).

Additional requirements for admission included research experience, work experience, extracurricular activity, clinically related public service, letters of recommendation, interviews, and/or a statements of goals and objectives. According to Table 26, the most important criteria for admission into U.S. doctoral programs were letters of recommendation, statement of goals and objectives, and research experience. Specifically, letters of recommendation were of high importance in admission criteria for 82% of public and 78% of private doctoral programs. Similarly, research experience was seen as high in importance for 67% of public doctoral programs and 52% of private doctoral programs. Fifty-eight percent of public master's programs and 84% of private master's programs also considered letters of recommendation as high in importance. Research experience, work experience, and clinically related public service were all rated as equally important for entrance into master's programs. Statements of goals and objectives were viewed as important for admission into doctoral programs, but not quite as important for admission to master's programs.

Hours required for completion of a degree were similar across public and private institutions. Public and private institutions offering a terminal master's of science (MS) or master's of art (MA) required 42 and 48 hours, respectively (see Table 27). Doctoral programs, overall, required more than double the number of hours required by master's programs for degree completion. PsyD programs required the most hours for degree completion in both public and private institutions. Specifically, public institutions offering a PsyD degree required 13% more hours than public institutions offering the PhD degree. Private institutions offering a PsyD degree required 30% more than private institutions offering the PhD degree.

Overall, requirements for admission are specific to each institution and program. Generally, doctoral programs require higher standardized test scores and undergraduate GPAs, as compared to master's programs. Likewise, doctoral programs require more hours than master' programs for degree completion.

Tuition in Graduate Departments of Psychology

Tuition in U.S. Graduate Departments of Psychology. In the interest of consistency, discussion regarding tuition will be based on medians. In addition, it should be noted that state residency does not effect the cost of tuition for private institutions, therefore, a distinction between state and non-state residents will not be made while discussing private institutions. Table 28 indicates that tuition for private institutions per academic year was slightly more than five times higher than in-state tuition for public institutions. The tuition for non-state residents in public institutions was almost twice as high as tuition for private institutions. Likewise, in-state students enrolled in public institutions paid 58% less per credit hour than non-state residents. The tuition per credit hour for students enrolled in private institutions was slightly more than three times higher than that for in-state residents enrolled in a public institution.

Tuition for state residents per academic year in doctoral programs was slightly more than twice as much as state residents in a terminal master's program. Non-state residents in doctoral programs also paid more than twice as much as state residents per academic year. State resident master's students paid 43% less per credit hour than non-state resident master's students. (see Table 29).

In general, students enrolled in private institutions pay higher tuition than those students enrolled in public institutions. In addition, doctoral students tend to pay more per academic year than master's students.

Tuition in Canadian Graduate Departments of Psychology. Similar to U.S. graduate departments, non-Canadian residents also paid slightly more than double the amount of Canadian resident graduate students per academic year. However, tuition per credit hour paid by Canadian residents and non-Canadian residents differed by only 9% (see Table 29).

Availability and Levels of Financial Support for U.S. Psychology Graduate Students

Teaching Assistantships

According to Table 30, 84% of public doctoral graduate programs offered teaching assistantships (TA) to first-year students and 90% offered TA positions to advanced students. On average, doctoral students from public institutions received a larger stipend per academic year than doctoral students in private institutions, and public institutions required doctoral students receiving financial support to work more hours than did private institutions. Slightly more than half of public institutions offered doctoral students a full tuition remission while 32% offered partial tuition remission. Twenty-five percent of private institutions offered doctoral students full remission and 27% offered partial remission.

Sixty-two percent and 41% of departments in public and private institutions, respectively, offered first-year master's students TA positions. Sixty percent of departments in public institutions offered advanced students in master's programs TA positions while only 47% of departments in private institutions offered advanced students opportunities for a TA position. Master's students enrolled in a department in a public institution received a smaller stipend than their doctoral counterparts. However, master's and doctoral students enrolled in private institutions received almost equal yearly stipends for TA positions. Only 22% of master's programs in public institutions and 16% of master's programs in private institutions offered full tuition remission. Fewer programs in both types of settings offered partial tuition remission.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships (RA) were more available to first-year students and slightly less available to advanced students than were TA positions. In addition, doctoral programs in public institutions offered the highest yearly stipend to their students. Students in private institutions worked fewer hours per week than students in public institutions. Master's students in programs in private institutions received a slightly larger average stipend in comparison to public institutions. Master's students in public institutions received the smallest stipend for RA positions. Doctoral programs were also more apt to give tuition remission (either full or partial) than master's programs. Specifically, 48% of doctoral programs in public institutions offered full tuition remission while only 20% of public master's programs offered full tuition remission (see Table 30).


Traineeships were the least offered of all types of financial support across all types of departments. Master's programs at both the public and private level offered fewer traineeships. Students involved in traineeships worked the highest average hours per week for this category of support. On average, doctoral students in both public and private institutions worked 18 hours per week. Doctoral students in public institutions received a smaller stipend than doctoral students in private institutions. Master's students in public institutions received a larger stipend than master's students in private institutions. Very few programs offered a tuition remission to students involved in a traineeship. Twenty-two percent of doctoral students involved in a traineeship in a public institution received a full remission while only 2% of students in a public master's program received a full remission.


Fellowships/Scholarships (FS) were offered to both first-year and advanced students almost as often as RA and TA positions. Seventy-three percent of public doctoral programs reported offering FS positions to first-year students and 67% to advanced students. Yearly stipends were similar in amount to both TA and RA positions. Again, doctoral students in public institutions received the largest stipends and master's students in private institutions received the smallest stipends. Over half of the doctoral programs gave some tuition remission compared to a much smaller percentage of master's programs. Forty percent of public doctoral programs offered full tuition remission and 20% offered partial remission. Likewise, 29% of private doctoral programs offered full remission. Only 3% of public master's programs offered full remission and 4% partial remission.