Psychology (Ph.D.)

Admission Requirements

Applicants must complete a Psychology Department application form and provide general GRE test scores, at least three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose in addition to the transcripts and application form required by the Graduate School. Application policies and procedures are available on the Department of Psychology website. Students will not be considered for admission until all documents have been received and evaluated. All forms are due by December 1, and applicants will be notified of the admission committee's decision around March 1.

Because the doctoral degree offered by this department is viewed as a continuation of the Master of Arts degree program in psychology, students are expected to earn the M.A. degree or complete a master’s-equivalent project as a preliminary stage in doctoral study. The work of students who hold advanced degrees when they enter this program will be evaluated to determine the extent to which it satisfies the requirements of the M.A. degree in psychology.


The Doctor of Philosophy requires ninety credits beyond the baccalaureate degree, thirty of which must be earned as dissertation credits . Additionally, in order that students may acquire a broad background in the factual and theoretical content of psychology, five substantive courses are required of all doctoral candidates:

PSY 7150Quantitative Methods in Psychology I4
PSY 7160Quantitative Methods in Psychology II4
One additional quantitative anyalysis course
Two of the following outside the student's major area:
History and Systems of Psychology
Human Cognition
Theories of Learning
Biological Basis of Behavior
Theory of Personality
Introduction to Life-Span Developmental Psychology
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Social Psychology: Research and Theory

Each student is expected to select a major and minor area of specialization from among the following list. (Alternate minor areas may be developed in consultation with relevant faculty, subject to the approval of the Department Graduate Committee.)

BEHAVIORAL AND COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE: This interdisciplinary research and training program prepares students for positions in research and teaching in many areas of neuroscience, including functional cognitive neural imaging, neural physiology, behavioral pharmacology, neurobehavioral teratology, and affective neuroscience. Academic training is provided through foundation courses, specialized seminars, and intensive participation in mentored research based  on one-to-one working relationships with faculty members.

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY: This training program is accredited by the American Psychological Association and educates students as scientist-practitioners. Students are prepared for a wide range of careers, including research, teaching, clinical practice, and administration. In addition to the basic departmental course requirements for a doctoral degree, students also take courses in professional ethics, psychopathology, psychological assessment, psychological interventions, and other coursework consistent with APA accreditation. Requirements also include an empirical master's thesis and doctoral dissertation, as well as supervised clinical training in assessment and treatment of clients in our training clinic, external placements, and an internship. Special opportunities for training and research in neuropsychology, child psychology, health psychology, and community psychology are available in the clinical program, with faculty in other areas of the department, and in the community.

COGNITIVE,  DEVELOPMENTAL, AND  SOCIAL  PSYCHOLOGY: This area is oriented toward the interests of students pursuing degrees in cognitive, developmental, and social psychology. Students are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach to research and tailor their coursework so that it corresponds to their personal field of research. Students can also integrate their disciplinary focus with health psychology.

The COGNITIVE sub-area focuses on fundamental research on human cognition and its application to educational and human factors settings. Current research interests include speech perception; attention; memory; psycholinguistics; sign language and deafness; and gerontological studies of memory.

The DEVELOPMENTAL sub-area takes a life-span perspective providing students with a strong foundation in dynamic modern developmental theories and models. Current studies focus on risk and resilience, longitudinal modeling, developmental contexts (e.g., poverty, child care, race/ethnicity, culture), ethology and marital relations, parent-child relationships, stress reactivity, emotion regulation, temperament, joint attention, school readiness, language development, autobiographical memory, and child maltreatment.

The SOCIAL-PERSONALITY sub-area focuses on theory-based basic and applied research. Students can be trained in a variety of experimental, survey research, and intervention methods and techniques, including alcohol administration, daily diaries, hormone assays, and implicit/automatic processing. These research methods are used to address basic research questions in the areas of social cognition, close relationship processes, interpersonal violence, and personality processes.

INDUSTRIAL/ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY offers coursework in Personnel Psychology (including such topics as criterion development, performance evaluation, and personnel selection) and Organizational Psychology (including such topics as employee training and development, motivation and morale, and leadership and executive development). Opportunities exist for field experience in a variety of local and national corporations.

Academic Scholarship: All course work must be completed in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Residence: All new doctoral students must enroll for their first academic year on a full-time basis. Students must complete at least six three-credit courses, exclusive of research and thesis credits, during the first year. Any incompletes in these six courses must be removed prior to the fall semester of the second year.

Examinations: The qualifying examination, a written examination covering the student’s major area, is required. It is normally taken after completion of the master’s thesis.

Training, Teaching, and Research: Doctoral students are required to participate in a training assignment each academic year they are in residence. This is required of all full-time students, irrespective of whether the training assignment includes a stipend. The student’s area committee is responsible for seeing that this requirement is met each year. The training assignment involves appropriate teaching, research (other than thesis or dissertation research) or professional activities.

Dissertation Research: The thirty credit dissertation registration requirement is fulfilled by registering for the courses PSY 9991, PSY 9992, PSY 9993, and PSY 9994 (Doctoral Dissertation Research and Direction I, II, III, and IV, respectively), in consecutive academic year semesters.