skip to navigation skip to content

Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions about Admissions

Can I apply for a master's degree in child psychology?

The Institute of Child Development does not offer admission to a master's degree in Child Psychology. PhD students are allowed, but not required, to earn an MA during their progress toward the PhD.

What department should I send my application materials to?

The Institute of Child Development is the Department of Child Psychology. We are housed in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. While we have ties to other departments such as Psychology (in the College of Liberal Arts) and Educational Psychology (also in the College of Education and Human Development), we are a separate entity.
All students applying for a PhD in Child Psychology will submit materials online as described in the application instructions. (See How to Apply.)
All students should be sure to select Child Psychology Ph.D. as their degree objective on their ApplyYourself application, including students applying to the joint track.

Do you have minimum required GRE scores or GPA in order to apply?

We do not have minimum required GRE scores or GPA for admission. (Note that the university prefers a 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.)

Admission to the Institute programs is competitive. For more information on the general qualifications of the students we admit, please see admission criteria.

Do you require or accept the GRE Psychology Subject Test?

We do not require the GRE Psychology Subject Test, and as such we cannot take any scores for this test into consideration when making our admissions decisions.

How do I know if a specific faculty member is accepting new students? How do I apply to work with that person?

At ICD, the entire faculty makes decisions about admissions as a group, working in what is called a community model. (This is different than a mentor model, where you would apply to a specific faculty member and that person would make the decision.) Any student may apply to work with any faculty member here, or any combination of faculty members. We require you to identify at least one faculty member in your application with whom you would like to work.

What should I emphasize in my application? How can I make my application stronger?

Admission to the child psychology graduate program is based on a holistic review of an applicant's academic record, letters of recommendation, GRE scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical), TOEFL where applicable, statement of goals and interests, and perceived program "fit."

The admissions committee will carefully review everything that you submit. The committee looks for evidence that you have the academic preparation and skills to succeed, and that the program can offer you training in your area of interest (perceived program "fit"). To evaluate "fit," the admissions committee will evaluate how well your interests match with the interests of department faculty. You must identify at least one faculty member with whom you wish to work.

The admissions committee evaluates applications holistically. This means that strengths may outweigh weaknesses. For example, very strong letters of recommendation and perceived "fit" may outweigh lower GRE scores or grades, or excellent grades in math could compensate for a weak quantitative GRE score. These are just examples. Individual cases vary. However, the best advice is to showcase your strengths, and if need be, to explain how your strengths compensate for your weaknesses via Personal Statement or in an addendum to the application. See How to Apply for more info.

How important is prior research experience?

Undergraduate research experience is highly valued in an applicant to our program and enhances your chances of admission. Research experience also provides evidence of your motivation and ability to do research, a critical component of our graduate program.

Do you hold interviews as part of the application process?

We do brief, general phone interviews for our top candidates. Not all candidates interviewed will be offered admission. After admissions decisions have been made, we hold a visit weekend for admitted students.

How many students are usually admitted each year?

In recent years we have admitted 7-14 students total. This includes approximately 3-4 students admitted to the Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science special training track. Admission is competitive. Overall, we admit approximately 5-10% of total applicants.

How will I know if you received my application? How will I know if it is complete?

Please check the status of your application online by logging back into the application system (instructions). If your status is "Awaiting Program Decision" that means we have it in ICD and are reviewing it. We will send you a status update when we review your application. Since we begin reviewing on December 1st, it may take a week or so before we are able to send you a status update. Please be patient during this time. Answering inquiries about application status slows the process down for everyone.

When will I find out if I am being offered admission or not?

We begin reviewing applications immediately after the December 1st deadline. A decision for admission notice will be emailed to you once your application is carefully reviewed by the ICD faculty and your transcripts and any credentials (test reports, diploma copies, etc.) are authenticated by Graduate School officials. You can expect a decision by late February or early March.

What types of jobs do students go into who have graduated from ICD?

Our PhD program is research-oriented and designed to prepare students to be researchers and faculty members. The majority of our graduates go on to careers in research and teaching.

Is there any additional advice for international students?

Please visit the Graduate School's International Student Information page for information about English-language requirements, support and resources. Counseling, advising, and educational services are provided for students and scholars from other countries by International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). Students may receive counseling and advising services regarding visa requirements and other immigration issues, social, personal, and financial matters; international and intercultural educational opportunities; academic issues; and English language requirements.

Would you mail me an application and information packet about your program?

All our program information is available here on our website. We no longer send out hard copies of material.

I have a question that is not answered here, or would like more information.

Inquiries may be made to the Institute of Child Development admissions staff via


We're here to help!

Get it touch:

Hear From Students

Featured Doctoral Students

Michelle Brown works to improve outcomes for victimized children and families

Amanda Hodel researches the neurobiology of child development

Featured Alumni

Janette Herbers
Assistant Professor Janette Herbers conducts research to understand developmental processes of resilience in children who experience risks such as trauma, poverty, and homelessness.

Rebecca Shlafer
Assistant Professor Rebecca Shlafer partnered with Sesame Street Workshop to lead the dissemination of new resources for children and families impacted by incarceration in Minnesota.

Nim Tottenham
Assistant Professor Nim Tottenham examines the development of brain systems involved in human emotional development to understand how these systems are influenced by early adverse environments.