Prospective Students: Frequently Asked Questions
The Geller lab is currently accepting PhD and MS applications for joint mentorship with Mary Spiers, PhD. We anticipate accepting 1 PhD student and 1 MS student to begin in the fall of 2017. Below are the most commonly asked questions by applicants. We hope that this page is helpful to applicants as they evaluate the match between their research interests and our lab. As any newly accepted students will be jointly mentored with Mary Spiers, please also refer to her website. The frequently asked questions below were designed to pertain to both PhD and MS applicants.
Would you describe your program as more research-focused or more clinically-focused?
Both. The psychology department provides training in the scientist - practitioner model, which involves the integration of research and practice. The program extensively trains in both research and practice, with significant emphasis on competencies in both areas. Graduate students receive rigorous training in research methodology, design, and statistical analysis through coursework and completion of thesis and dissertation research under the guidance of faculty mentors.
Students are encouraged and supported in their efforts to contribute to research dissemination through publication and presentation. Clinical training is also strongly emphasized. PhD students are required to complete at least 1600 hours of clinical training through their practicum placements, with opportunities to pursue additional clinical training hours beyond this minimum. Additionally, classes and research often include substantial clinical components: many students' thesis and dissertation projects involve intervention and/or assessment, and several classes (e.g., Behavioral Assessment, Intellectual Assessment, CBT, Psychopathology) emphasize clinical skills and competencies. In addition, most of the faculty are licensed psychologists, and many faculty members actively engage in clinical practice. The program prepares graduates to successfully pursue licensure as clinical psychologists.
Some Master's students have also obtained clinical experience through involvement in clinically- relevant research.
Would contacting you help, or demonstrate my interest in the program?
If you have specific questions that can be addressed pertaining to your interest in her research or the program, you are welcome to email Professor Geller or Professor Spiers. We receive many emails during the application season, but will try to respond to your questions in a timely manner. However, please know that it is not necessary to contact Professor Geller or Professor Spiers prior to applying for the lab if you do not have specific questions that you wish to discuss.
What can you tell me about applying to the MS Program?
The MS Program is a good option for applicants who are research-focused or who wish to gain more experience prior to applying to doctoral programs. The MS program is focused on training in scientific research methodology relevant to psychology and the behavioral sciences. There is no clinical training associated with the MS program; however, students will complete an empirical thesis as a culmination of their studies.
What are funding opportunities like?
All PhD students receive a stipend of $15,000 per year. In addition to this stipend, students in the PhD program may have the opportunity to receive loans, fellowships, Graduate Assistantships, and/or teaching positions (after PhD students earn their MS, they can teach undergraduate courses independently).
PhD students also receive a $500 travel subsidy per year (for being first or second author on a conference presentation). In addition, the department remits PhD students' tuition ($25,920 per year) and covers basic Aetna student health insurance (worth approximately $1,200/year) and student fees (worth approximately $750/year) for four years.
Students in the MS program have a number of supplementary income options as well. They may serve as CDAs (Course Design Assistants - this is an online TA-ship open to master's students), take out loans, work part-time jobs, serve as Teaching Assistants or Graduate Assistants, and/or obtain Work Study positions. Master's students can also receive the $500 travel subsidy.
Please note that not all of these funding sources will be available to every student. Also, department funding for PhD students is not offered after the fourth year.
What's it like living in Philadelphia?
In many ways, Philadelphia is an ideal city for graduate students. The city has a vibrant cultural environment, which includes restaurants, museums, recreational activities, and nightlife. Philadelphia boasts many sports teams, including the Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers, which have large dedicated fan bases. In addition, because there are several universities in the area, Philadelphia has a large population of graduate students and young professionals. Philadelphia is relatively affordable in terms of housing; apartments ranging in price and size are available in many neighborhoods in the city and its surrounding areas. Philadelphia is easily accessible by public transportation and car, and is also very walkable.
In terms of professional development, Philadelphia has a rich history and active presence in the field of psychology, particularly in cognitive-behavioral therapy, and is the home of the Beck Institute. In addition, Drexel maintains strong relationships with numerous universities, hospitals, and treatment facilities in the Philadelphia area, which is evidenced by the practicum and research opportunities the department offers. Furthermore, the city has a diverse population in terms of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and race. Therefore, students in our program have the opportunity to work with a wide range of individuals in their practica and research. Furthermore, the tri-state area provides numerous opportunities for clinical training- the Clinical Psychology PhD program currently offers nearly 50 practicum sites (with specialized options for students interested in Health Psychology).
Questions Specific to the Geller Lab
What type of applicant are you looking for?
We look for applicants who best fit our lab. "Fit" pertains to applicants' qualifications, research and training interests, and ability to be productive, work independently, and function as a team member within the lab. Specifically, we look for students with substantial research experience, a strong interest in the research areas studied within the lab, and strong undergraduate training and GRE scores. In addition, the lab is highly collaborative and collegial, and we look for these traits in a candidate.
What type of research can I pursue at the Geller lab?
Students are encouraged to develop and pursue research projects reflecting their interests within the lab's primary foci., Student research generally involves women's health psychology and stressful life events. Recent projects topics include HIV risk prevention in women who experience domestic violence, fertility-related experiences among women of color, pregnancy loss experiences, sexting and intimate partner relationships, and physical activity during and after pregnancy.
What's the lab "culture" like?
As mentioned above, our lab is highly collaborative. PhD and MS students often work closely together on projects, and lab responsibilities are split among lab members. As a member of our lab, you'll design and lead your own research (thesis and dissertation projects for PhD students, and thesis research for MS students), under Professor Geller's supervision. Graduate students are also actively involved in other lab member's studies and help with grant applications and other lab responsibilities. We meet as a lab once per week to discuss ongoing research and future projects.
The Geller lab is very supportive in terms of research and professional development. We celebrate lab members' academic milestones (such as successful proposals and defenses of research projects) in lab meetings and lab members support and mentor each other throughout their tenure in the program. Overall our graduate students are personable and hard-working, and the lab culture is collegial and productive.
Are there opportunities for publishing and presenting work?
Presentation and publication of research is encouraged. Members of the research team (both MS and PhD - level) typically present research every year at national and local conferences. Students in the lab have published review articles and original research in a number of peer-reviewed journals. Other opportunities to publish (e.g., book chapters, article and book reviews) also become available from time to time.
Please see our Research Publications page for more information.
What are the Health Psychology and Neuropsychology concentrations, and how do they relate to the Geller lab?
Drexel's Clinical Psychology PhD program enables students choose concentration(s). These concentrations are considered specialty preparation training which facilitate later training and, ultimately, professional specialization. Health Psychology and/or Clinical Neuropsychology are two of the four concentrations offered in the program. Due to the relevance of Health Psychology to our research, most PhD students in the Geller Lab join the Health Psychology Concentration. However, students also have the option to join the Clinical Neuropsychology Concentration because of its relevance to Spiers’ work.
The Health Psychology Concentration aims to provide specialty training in order to prepare graduate students for academic and/or clinical positions where the primary focus is on physical health problems. Students in the Health Psychology Concentration are required to participate in one health psychology practicum (800 hours), conduct a health psychology-focused thesis and dissertation, successfully complete the following required courses: Health Psychology and Behavioral Stress Management, and three advanced electives in health psychology.
The Clinical Neuropsychology Concentration aims to provide specialty training in order to prepare graduate students for academic and/or clinical positions where the primary focus is on brain-behavior relationships. Students in the Clinical Neuropsychology Concentration are required to participate in one neuropsychology practicum (800 hours), conduct a neuropsychology-focused thesis and dissertation, successfully complete the following required courses: Neuroanatomy and Behavior, Neuropsychological Assessment and Case Analysis and Integration, and two additional electives in neuropsychology.
Students interested in working with Geller and Spiers may choose one or both of these concentrations. However, pursuing a concentration is not mandatory.
What's the timeline for interviews and admissions decisions?
PhD: After applications have been received, applications from those who have indicated a desire to receive mentorship from Geller and/or Spiers are reviewed. A number of applicants are selected to be invited to Drexel for in-person interviews and an opportunity to meet faculty and students. PhD interviews are usually scheduled from mid to late February. If an applicant is offered admission to the program, s/he will be contacted following the interview.
MS: In the Spring, we will begin reviewing applications from applicants to the MS program who have expressed interest in DGeller and/or Spiers' research or whose research interests may fit well with the lab. Out of this set, selected students are invited to Drexel for in-person interviews and an opportunity to meet faculty and students. MS interviews are scheduled from mid-March to mid-April.