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Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you for your interest in UIC and in my lab in particular. I will be reviewing graduate student applications to the social psychology program in anticipation of taking a new student or students for Fall 2018. I am particularly eager to identify students with interests at the intersection of social, political, and moral psychology. The Skitka Lab emphasizes inclusion and diversity in achieving and sustaining excellence in research, training, and outreach. We are committed to an intellectual climate that is welcoming, nurturing, and challenging. We respect and value the full spectrum of human diversity in race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, age, disability, national origin, or political orientation. Members of the lab work together to create an environment of inclusion, mutual respect, safety, and support and we favor people who want to work in a cooperative and supportive environment.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you read examples of the kinds of research we do in my lab before applying. Compatibility of research interests between students and their faculty advisors is one of the best predictors of graduate student success. Finding an advisor who most closely matches your interests is therefore critically important to your long term success. Some good articles to get a sense of the kinds of work my students and I do -- and areas we’re likely to continue working in-- can be found here, here, and here (all include student co-authors. Note: These articles may not all be my most recent papers, but are ones I feel best represent the kind of work we tend to do, and I hope to do going forward). Something you might notice is that our work is methodologically varied— we’re as likely to do national survey research as we are behavioral research in the lab and everything in between: I am interested in students who share my enthusiasm for taking a multi-method approach to understanding a given problem. And one way to gauge whether we would have good fit is to pay attention to how you feel when reading these papers: Can you see yourself not only doing this kind of research, but love doing it? Can you see yourself writing these kinds of papers once you get some statistical training? Or were you bored to tears?

Although fit with your primary advisor is important, it is also important to have intellectual support beyond one’s advisor’s lab. In addition to having a very strong social/personality program at UIC and strong connections across the different faculty members’ labs, students in my lab have the opportunity to develop scholarly connections with graduate students and faculty at the many other doctoral level programs in the Chicagoland area. The Chicagoland MOrality REsearchers (C-MORE) has a mailing list of 50+ graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculty from the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, and of course, UIC, who have cross-disciplinary interests in morality. C-MORE has a city-wide lab meeting 2-3 times a year, with hosting rotating between the various participating universities. Chicago is always where the Midwestern Psychological Association and the Midwestern Political Science Association annual meetings are held. Long story short, there are many opportunities for intellectual stimulation and scholarly networking for graduate students at UIC.

If you wish to apply for graduate study at UIC and in my lab in particular, please be sure to indicate in your personal statement that you wish to apply to work with me, and how your interests, training, and skills represent a good match with those of lab. If you have particular strengths that might make a contribution to the lab, such as prior research experience, statistical training, or programming skills, be sure to mention those as well. Although you are not specifically asked to provide one as part of your application packet, I also encourage you to include a writing sample with your application, such as class paper or honors thesis. The personal statement is in my particular case the most important part of the application and basis upon which I decide whether to consider a prospective student. Your interests don’t need to be a perfect match with my own but I nonetheless need to be persuaded to invest my time and energy in supporting you. Why should I select you over any other prospective student? What do you bring to the table that an advisor would find to be an especially valuable addition to her work and lab?

Although we have an application deadline in mid-December, the department takes some time with initial processing and active review of your application by faculty won’t begin until probably early to mid-January. Those who make my short list for consideration are usually contacted for a telephone or Skype interview. A smaller number of students may be invited for a campus visit for further consideration, something that will involve interviews not only with me, but with the other social/personality faculty and current graduate students. All notices of acceptance will be sent by no later than April 1.


Thank you again for your interest!

Best wishes,

Linda J. Skitka. Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Head of Psychology