About Dave G. Mumby, Ph.D.

image courtesy of tmphotography.ca

Here’s a bit of my biography, with emphasis on those aspects of my experience that are most relevant to this blog:

I am an professor at a major University in Montreal, Canada. I am an academic advisor for undergraduate Psychology students, as well as a graduate supervisor for Master’s and Ph.D. students who share my interests in behavioural neuroscience. I have been on many selection committees in my department,  and I am a regular contributor to the MyGraduateSchool.com web site, which features advice from experts on applying to graduate or professional school.

I finished writing the second edition of my book on getting into grad school successfully. It’s called: Graduate School: Winning Strategies For Getting In. This book is full of advice on how to properly use your time as an undergraduate student so that when you are ready to apply to graduate school you have the background necessary to get into the right school and the right program for you. The book also takes you through the entire application process, step-by-step.  Readers learn how deal effectively with each component of the application, and how to avoid making mistakes that keep so many other deserving students out of grad school.

You can preview it at amazon or order it directly from the publisher – Proto Press Publications. Just send them an email at protopress@mygraduateschool.com. It is also available in some University and College bookstores across North America.  If you can’t find it at your bookstore, don’t be shy to let them know!

Here are a few other links that describe a bit more about who I am and what I do:

Mumby Lab

Center for Studies in Neurobiology




  1. Thanks for all the great advice on this blog! I recently moved to Amsterdam after completing a Masters degree in New Zealand. I’m currently adjusting to life here (I’m American) while trying to find a PhD opportunity. I applied for a couple advertised PhD positions while I was overseas to no success (even though I communicated with the professors before hand, I was still pretty much an unknown commodity). I am now attempting to conduct some volunteer work so potential supervisors can have a chance get to know me and I can learn more about the potential opportunities in the Netherlands. The challenges of moving to a new country and trying to follow your dreams can get very difficult at times so I’m happy to have resources such as your blog to give me advice and motivate me on my path.


  2. Hi Dr. Mumby,

    Thank you so much for this insightful post. I am someone who’s been out of undergrad for a few years, obtained a masters in education while working in higher ed as an admin, and am now looking for some research experience to boost my application for PhD programs. I’ve found two specific faculty I’d like to work with (in different schools) whose research interests align with mine. Would it be appropriate to send them a specific e-mail inquiring about the possibility of doing a bit of volunteer work for their research even though I’m no longer a student?



  3. Hello Dr. Mumby,

    i have a question related to GPA, course selection and graduate school admissions. I am currently finishing my psych program with an overall CGPA equivalent to an A- (my school doesn’t grade on a 4.0 scale), however my grades in statistics were very poor and I know that they are absolutely crucial to doing well in a psych grad program. Would it be an advantage for me to retake some additional stats courses at a local university once I graduate (I can’t do it right now at my local university) in order to get a better grade? Would an admission committee look down at my application if they see that I got C’s in stats the first time around even though I took upgrading courses later on and got a much higher grade? Thanks!

    -Worried About Stats


    1. Thank-you for the great question, Elizabeth. I’m sure there are many Psychology students out there who are in a similar situation.
      Most admissions committee members and potential graduate supervisors will look favourably on the fact that you made the effort to improve your statistics background. It shows good judgment, and a certain amount of dedication.
      When choosing which statistics courses to (re)take at another university, be sure to select from only the Psychology stats courses. Statistics courses in different social sciences, such as sociology or economics, do not usually cover the same range of topics and analytical approaches as the Psychology stats courses. Psychology graduate programs typically expect applicants to have a good grade in senior-level Psychology statistics, or the equivalent.
      Most Psychology undergraduate programs have two statistics courses (junior and senior-level), and although a C is definitely not a good grade for the first course, it is usually enough to earn the credits and qualify to take the senior-level stats course. If a student gets a poor grade in a junior-level course, but then bounces back for an A in the following senior-level course, it will diminish the negative impact of the previous poor grade to only its numerical effect on the GPA. If the student also does poorly in the senior-level course, then in order to have a shot at getting into a decent graduate program, he or she must do precisely what you’re proposing to do. Getting an A in the equivalent course at a later time will give you that shot. – Dave


  4. Wow! THANK YOU SO MUCH for your extensive advice and kind words of encouragement Dave. I appreciate it very much and will definitely look into volunteering, (it has been on my TO DO list for some time now) I will also give serious consideration to all of the great information that you have provided. This blog is fantastic and has really helped me to feel less alone and overwhelmed during this intense transitional period of decision making and choices.


    1. I’m happy to know you like the blog and find it useful. Please spread the word, if you know anyone else who could use this kind of advice. I have difficulty with self-promotion — really don’t like doing it! So, I mostly rely on “word-of-mouth” to attract new readers to my blog.
      And please don’t hesitate to let us know how things go for you in the months ahead. – Dave


  5. Hello Dr. Mumby, thank you very much for your blog.

    Getting into grad school seems to be getting more and more competitive by the minute. It’s scary.

    I’ve worked my butt off for several years working on my BA in psych. while working full time and also dealing with the death of a close family member, a sick parent and one miscarriage. I regret not taking the proper amount of time that I needed to cope while studying because it had a negative impact on my grades. I instead kept going because of my age and own perceived “race against the clock”. I’m a mature student (34) who was unable to pursue University at the average age, I love doing it now BUT there are many conflicting life challenges which add massive pressure to the mix and I am almost out of steam.

    I am wondering what other options are open to me, aside from grad school that can enable me to enter the workforce in a domain that pertains to wellness, research or counselling. I am concerned because the life challenges mentioned above and a very low level of math skills (algebra and stats) have really hurt my GPA, I went from a 3.7 to a 2.96…I have one full time semester left and hope to get straight A’s which should get be back up to at least a 3.3 (I hope)….but what can I do? I so feel hopeless……a 3.3 is not competitive enough to get into the program of my choice…..what can I do? Please help me with any practical advice that you may have. I’m under additional immense pressure as my partner and I are also family planning , however, achieving a higher level of education that is in sync with my career goals is just as important to me (and a very big part of what I consider successful) parenthood.

    Advice Please
    Thank you for your time and consideration


    1. To be frank, going to graduate school and raising young children do not generally go well together. Some amazing women make it work, but it is more often the case that compromises end up happening either in the studies, the family, or both. Not necessarily devastating compromises — but sometimes they are. It’s not as difficult to manage both aspects, and even throw in some hobbies, if one is studying part-time, but in many fields, graduate school is a full-time affair that lasts for at least a few years. Graduate school in Psychology, leading to a doctoral degree in an area of Clinical Psychology, might not fit into your overall plan. After completing a Bachelor’s degree, it takes most people between 5 and 8 years to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology. A Psy.D program would be a faster way to get the qualifications to be a clinical psychology practitioner, but still takes 3 – 4 years of full-time studies following the bachelor’s. As you guessed, your grades will probably preclude acceptance to most Ph.D. or Psy.D. programs, but not necessarily all. As I’ve pointed out in many blog posts, getting into grad school in Psychology is about so much more than grades, and a lot of people get into top programs with grades that are in that 3.3 range you’re shooting for after your final year of undergraduate. Getting research experience and enabling one or more professors to get to know about your skills and aptitudes are the most important thing to do, for various reasons explained throughout the blog. But, it takes time to get that experience, so one needs to get started on developing this background without too much delay.
      Okay, that’s all I’ll say about the Ph.D. or Psy.D. routes.
      You might want to pursue a Master’s in Counselling or Social Work as a way to get the credentials you need for the kind of career you want. Most people in those fields begin working after the Master’s. And there are a diverse range of careers available in those fields, too. The chances of getting employment that you’re satisfied with would likely be MUCH HIGHER following a Masters in Counselling or Social Work than following a Ph.D. in Psychology! And you’re not likely to earn significantly more with that Ph.D. in Psychology than with the Masters in Counselling or Social Work. Undergraduate research experience is not usually an important prerequisite for grad studies in counselling or social work, like it is in Psychology, but other forms of experience, often including volunteering in a relevant setting, are indeed important. You might consider looking for volunteer opportunities in counselling or social work. Most cities have plenty of organizations that serve the community, or individuals, or groups, and many of them provide volunteer opportunities. Look for such opportunities at hospitals, community or school counselling centres, churches, and other relevant public or private organizations. The easiest thing might be an online search for opportunities in your area. Try entering “Volunteer opportunities in Counselling or Social Work in NAMEOFCITY” into a search engine. Look for a volunteer position where you are likely to be helping or working with accredited counsellors or social workers, as you might be able to learn something from them about grad school and employment opportunities in those fields.
      Now, you might even find it’s possible to begin with a volunteer opportunity in the right organization that enables you to move into a paid position at some point down the road, thus providing you with gainful employment in an occupation that helps others. If things turned out something like that after several months or a year or two, you might not feel such a strong need to go to graduate school. You never know what connections you might make once you start volunteering.
      I hope all this gives you some ideas, and inspiration to keep pursuing a career in a “helping” or “wellness” field. I wish you all the best with your family planning, your final year of your bachelor’s, and with whatever you end up doing after you’re finished this degree. – Dave


  6. I have a question that no one has been able to answer very well. Due to my work schedule and the fact that I have 2 small children, I am getting an online bachelors degree from a very respected and accredited university…not one of these degree mills. I won’t be applying to grad school until my husband is done with his degree which would enable me to attend in person. But I’ve heard rumors (some from the faculty AT the school I am getting my bachelors from AND hopefully my masters) that online bachelors degrees really hurt your chances of getting into grad school. Even if I kill it on the GMAT and have an excellent GPA… No one can tell me definitively if this is true of not. Do you know if it is?


    1. I’m sorry to say, but it is generally true. And there are several reasons why, which actually make sense once you understand how the graduate admissions process generally works at most universities (it’s not the way most people assume it works). I can’t explain it all in this reply, Marilyn, but there are several other posts on my blog that discuss much of what you need to understand to appreciate why the online bachelors can hurt your chances of getting into grad school. A few of them are here, here, and here . – Dave


  7. Thank you so much for this blog. I have often encountered “academic advisors” who have provided little to no information and advised me to do my own research. Upon doing this, I have simply found more vague answers. Thank you for making this site comprehensive and informative. It definitely instills a sense of confidence.


  8. There are schools that automatically give funding once you get accepted. Others will advertise available sources of funding on their websites and its up to you to apply for those (competitive). Still, there are some that have funding but don’t advertise and it is not automatic and you end up having to broach the subject with the department or advisor. In some cases, they ask you about your financial capability even before you mention it.

    How do you tackle the funding issue with your prospective advisor/department without burning oneself in the process or ruining your chances at admissions? Do you have bargaining tips (especially where some universities offer funding openly and with others you have to go fish? Do you play a little russian roulette? Do you tell them flat out that you’re broke and need funding?


    1. Thank-you for your comments and questions.
      It’s certainly difficult to know how to bring up financial matters, but I always recommend that grad school applicants be completely open and honest about such things when they do come up. There is really nothing to be gained by fooling a potential graduate supervisor into believing that you have the financial means to cover your costs of going to grad school, when you really don’t. They need to know what your situation is so they can help find ways for you to get the support you need. If some of your funding will come from the supervisor’s research grant, then he or she must know this will be the case before deciding whether or not to accept you. If the truth only comes to light after you have applied and been accepted, then the consequences might be worse than if you hadn’t applied in the first place. I can imagine to potential scenarios, neither of which is good: First, it’s possible that you will decide to get a part-time job to support yourself while your in grad school. That’s not a good plan, as most grad students, especially those in doctorate programs, do not have time for work outside of their graduate studies. Performance will almost certainly suffer if a student secretly works at a part-time job, and the graduate supervisor is likely to become disappointed in the student’s performance. As discussed in previous posts, the graduate supervisor is the most important person, besides the student, in determining how successful the student will be in graduate school and during the first few years of a post-doctoral career. So, you don’t want your supervisor to think you are a mediocre grad student. The second possible scenario is that instead of taking a job, you confess to your supervisor that you really need some financial support, and that you’re not as self-sufficient as you made yourself out to be when you were applying. This might cause your supervisor to resent you for the lack of honesty, and they might come to distrust you about other things. And to make matters worse, it might be too late by then for your supervisor to help you get some of the support available for graduate students in their program. So, keep in mind that its really important to your graduate supervisor that you have the necessary financial resources, and you will not be better off in the long run by keeping them in the dark about what you have and what you need.

      One of your questions is about “bargaining tips” for dealing with programs that make open offers of financial support. I’ve discussed this in a previous blog post, at least with respect to choosing between multiple offers from different schools. My general advice is not to try bargaining, but instead put all of your effort into showing the potential supervisor or admissions committee how they will benefit by having you as a graduate student in their program.


  9. Hi Dr. Mumby,

    Thank you so much for this very insightful blog. This truly helps build my confidence and allows me to realize that I do have what it takes to not only apply to graduate school but also survive through it. This blog is truly a great read. Thanks once again!

    -Farzana L Ali


    1. Farzana,

      Thanks so much for your comments on the myGradSchool blog. I am glad to hear that the advice is boosting your confidence and helping you tackle the challenges ahead. Our readers and I too would love to get updates as things progress for you throughout the application process. So, don’t be shy to send in your questions as they come! Thanks again.


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