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Psychology Ph.D.

All students must meet the Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree


The Ph.D. program in General/Experimental Psychology admits students in four broad areas of concentration ("clusters"): Biobehavioral Psychology; Developmental Psychology; Social Psychology; and Behavioral Psychopharmacology.

The Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology places equal emphasis on research and clinical training. The Clinical Psychology program is fully accredited by the American Psychological Association.

The Ph.D. program in Clinical/Developmental Psychology provides students with training in the area of developmental psychopathology. Students completing the Clinical/Developmental degree meet the requirements of the Clinical program and those of the Developmental cluster in the General/Experimental program.

Additional clinical, research, and adjunct faculty supervise students in clinical and research placements.

Further information about graduate programs can be obtained electronically from the Department of Psychological Science website, which contains details of requirements, funding opportunities, clinical and research facilities, specialty areas, ongoing research, and faculty, as well as general information about the university and the area.

Applicants must apply for the Ph.D. degree only. Students whose goal is a terminal master's degree are not accepted.

Specific Requirements

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

A major or its equivalent in undergraduate psychology including courses in introductory psychology, statistics, and research methods. Applicants to the General/Experimental program should have coursework in experimental psychology, and applicants to the Clinical program should have completed abnormal psychology. Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination are required. Subject scores (Psychology) are not required but are strongly recommended for students applying without a psychology major. Applicants to the Clinical program must submit a writing sample of a research project or paper on which they were the primary author. An interview is required of top applicants to the clinical program.

Minimum Degree Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The General/Experimental program requires 75 credits and the Clinical program requires a minimum of 80 credits. A minimum of twenty credits must be accumulated in dissertation research and the remainder in course credits numbered in the 200 through 300 sequences of the psychology curriculum, or acceptable courses at 200- or 300-level from other curricula. The Clinical Ph.D. program requires satisfactory completion of a one-year pre-doctoral internship. Detailed information on courses of study is available on the department website. Satisfactory performance on the department final oral examination (dissertation defense) is required. There is no foreign language requirement. Although the requirement differs, both programs have a required preliminary examination.

Comprehensive Examination

In the General/Experimental Psychology program, the comprehensive exam ("preliminary exam") is taken in the next academic year after the academic year of the successful defense of a master's thesis.  The examination consists of a two-day written examination on select primary literature within the student's broad research area.  The details of the examination are decided upon by a committee of faculty members within the student's research area.

In the Clinical Psychology program, the comprehensive examination is structured to provide assessment in four formats:  two oral and two written.  The four phases of this exam should be satisfactorily completed before the end of the third year and before the dissertation is proposed: (1) Phase I Written Examination constituting a proposed study.  Timing:  By end of second year; (2) Phase II Oral Examination on scientific knowledge in area of study.  Timing:  By end of second year; (3) Phase III Written Examination constituting the completed study in manuscript form.  Timing:  By end of third year; (4) Phase IV Oral Examination on completed study.  Timing:  By end of third year.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

For the General/Experimental program, satisfactory completion of the minimum degree requirements for the Master of Arts degree or equivalent; for the clinical program, satisfactory performance of the Ph.D. comprehensive examination.