Psychology Ph.D.

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


The Ph.D. program in Experimental Psychology admits students in 4 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 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,  specialty areas, ongoing research, and faculty.

Applicants interested in the Ph.D. must apply for the Ph.D. degree only. Students whose goal is a terminal master's degree should apply through the M.A. program.

Specific Requirements

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

A major or its equivalent in undergraduate psychology is recommended. All applicants must have completed coursework including introductory psychology, statistics, and research methods. Applicants to the Experimental program should have coursework in experimental psychology, and applicants to the Clinical program should have completed abnormal psychology. The Graduate Record Examination is not required or accepted. Applicants 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.

Minimum Degree Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The Experimental program requires 75 credits and the Clinical program requires a minimum of 80 credits. A minimum of 20 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 1-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 master’s and a required preliminary examination.

Comprehensive Examination

In the Experimental Psychology program, the comprehensive exam ("preliminary exam") is taken following the successful defense of a master's thesis. The examination consists of a 2-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 exam is proposed following the successful defense of a master’s thesis. The examination consists of either a literature review (or meta-analysis) on a topic relevant to the research program of the student or an NRSA F31 application submitted to the National Institutes of Health. Both options involve a proposal and an oral defense. Students in the Clinical/Developmental program complete the comprehensive exams for both the clinical and developmental programs.

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

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