Prospective Graduate Students


Please see the following for more information regarding if I will interview for the upcoming academic year: 

http://clinicalpsych.unc.edu/faculty/#deborahjones.

Although I generally recruit doctoral students whose primary intellectual home is in the Clinical Psychology program, I am an associate faculty member of the Developmental Psychology program, and am open to opportunities to co-mentor students in Developmental and other programs.


In terms of research interests, I am generally interested in working with students on:

  • Basic and applied research that strives to move the field beyond the identification of “at-risk” to more specific and contextualized models of child and family functioning.
  • Patterns of risk and resilience within at-risk and underserved families, including low-income families.
  • Mechanisms to explain variability in outcomes of and strategies to increase engagement in evidence-based treatments.

My students are involved in every aspect of my work from grant writing to study design and implementation to the presentation and publication of results.  My goal is that my graduate students should have a model to successfully set up their own programs of research by the time that they leave UNC.  

You are welcome to email me to introduce yourself; however, your decision to email me  (or not to email me) will not have any bearing on my review of your application. Because I am not able to equitably accommodate everyone who emails me, I do not offer to meet with applicants outside our program’s formal interview process. To do our best to give you as much information as possible, we try to keep our website as informative and up-to-date as possible.

If you have specific questions about their experiences as students here at my lab or at UNC, certainly; however, it is important to know that these emails do not influence who we invite for interviews.  Moreover, to keep things most fair to all applicants we rely on applications and then interviews where one of the most important things that you can do is talk to my current students about what it is like to work with me. 

Graduate school is very different from undergraduate training in many ways, but I believe that a primary difference comes down to the central relevance of fit between the mentor and mentee. That is, the programs that you are considering are likely APA approved, which means that there is a common foundation of core courses, clinical practica, and research experiences that define every clinical psychology training program.  Once you enter a program, then you and the rest of your cohort will begin your journey on a common research and clinical training sequence that will include the same courses, a thesis and dissertation, other milestone projects such as comprehensive exams, and increasing involvement in clinical work.  As such, when you look at the differences between training programs or the experiences of students within the same training program, the foundation is in many ways very much the same.

What I see as the big difference in the experience of graduate training, however, is that “fit” or how does the research focus fit with the student’s interests.  Equally important is whether the mentor’s style fits with the way that the student works best and can be most productive. I consider my own style to be fairly highly structured.  My students and I have weekly individual meetings, as well as lab meetings.  These meetings vary depending on the time of the year and goals on our plate, but include reviews of progress, delegation of responsibilities, practice of presentations, and discussions of research and other training goals and plans.  My students also have due dates for their writing, whether their theses, or dissertations, or other papers that they are working on related to lab research.  We set due dates for them to email drafts to me, usually weekly, and I try to respond within 48 hours with feedback, edits, and suggestions for the next draft.  Finally, I look for opportunities to engage my students in all aspects of my work, including co-authoring papers, writing grants and responding to grant reviews, and designing, implementing, and analyzing results from studies. My goal is that when my students get their Ph.D.s, they would have a window into what it looks like to do academic research and have the tools and experiences to set up their own labs if that is the path they choose.


All students who are admitted to the clinical psychology program are usually guaranteed 5 years of finding (not including summers). You may be funded by a competitive university or program fellowship or teaching assistantship.  If we have a grant, students may also be funded as research assistants.  I strongly encourage my students to write predoctoral grants (e.g., NRSA, NSF GRFP,  Ford Foundation), which provides additional funding opportunities.

I think your GPA can be a useful indicator of your academic achievements, but context is very important. Many factors can influence one’s GPA, including both course of study, competing commitments (e.g., working part-time while in school), family obligations, and health challenges. If you believe your GPA does not reflect your potential as a clinical scientist, please highlight what you think are better indicators in your application. You may also ask your letter writers to address these as well.

The GRE is no longer accepted for admissions at UNC. This means that even if you took the GRE, you cannot submit them as part of your application.