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Ph.D Program


Students’ graduate work will largely consist of courses, seminars, reading, and research in their graduate area, and all graduate students should discuss their proposed coursework with their area head prior to registration. There are, however, some departmental requirements that everyone must satisfy. These requirements are primarily designed to insure that students acquire a reasonable breadth of experience within psychology.

Departmental distribution Requirements

Core Courses All students are expected to take at least three departmental core courses from at least two of the three content groups listed below.

Core Course Content Groups


PSY 383C Functional Neuroanatomy

PSY 383T Principles of Sensory & Behavioral Neuroscience*

PSY 391N Learning and Memory

PSY 394  Behavioral Neuroendocrinology              

PSY 396D Clinical Psychopharmacology


PSY 380E Vision Systems

PSY 387C Human Language Processing

PSY 387N Perceptual Systems

PSY 387S Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience*

PSY 394U.3 Introduction to Cognitive Science

PSY 381E Introduction to Psychophysiology

PSY 386D Multivariate Pattern Analysis of Neuroimaging Data


PSY 385N Fundamentals of Personality Psy      

PSY 385P Fundamentals of Social Psychology*

PSY 388D Individual Differences 

PSY 395S  Fundamentals of Developmental Psy (B or C)*

PSY 380F  Evolutionary Psychology

PSY 394V Social Neuroscience

PSY 394V Theory and Explanation in Social Psychology

PSY 396  Advanced Behavior Pathology*

* APA approved for Clinical students.

First year students must take at least one core course, and must take all core and quantitative courses, on a letter grade basis. Students should complete the core course requirement by the end of the third year. Core courses may be taken on a credit/no credit basis during the second and third years. 

Quantitative Courses:  All students are expected to take two quantitative (statistics) courses.  At least one quantitative course must be taken during the first year. Most first-year students will take PSY 384M-Advanced Statistics: Inferential. The graduate areas may specify which courses should be taken and impose additional quantitative requirements.

Course Load Requirements

First Year:  First year students must take at least nine hours of course work per semester.  During the first year, at least one course must be a departmental core course, at least one must be a statistics course, and at least two must be other substantive courses (which can include other core or statistics courses) that have formal evaluation requirements such as a final exam. In addition, all students are expected to become involved in research activities during the first year. Areas may require their students to register for the research course (390), area seminar courses, and to take additional courses or seminars as deemed necessary for the education of the student.

Teaching Assistants and Research Assistants:  All students employed by the  University as a TA or RA must take at least nine hours of coursework each semester that will count towards the graduate degree. (3 hours in summer session).

Ethics Course Requirement

An ethics course must be completed prior to being accepted into candidacy. It is expected that the ethics course will be taken in the first or second year. The ethics course may be taken in Psychology or in another department with Graduate Office approval and may vary in number of hours. 

Area Requirements

Courses:  Areas may require their students to take certain courses. Some of these required area courses may overlap with the departmental core courses.

Other Area Requirements

Many areas have research or paper requirements.

See Areas of Study for more information.


First Year Evaluation: First year students are formally evaluated by their areas and then by the entire faculty at the end of the first year. The evaluation considers grades and relative performance in core courses and statistics courses, performance in non-core courses, research aptitude and motivation, and professional competence. Outcomes include "pass" with continuation in the PhD program, "probation" with reevaluation, or "fail" with possible option of completing an MA degree.

Competency Evaluation: Each area is required to evaluate its students at the end of their second year or third year to determine their competence in their area of specialization.  The specific form of this evaluation is determined by the areas and varies widely.

Master of Arts (MA)

The ten courses (30 hours) required for the MA degree must include: a core course from two of the core course content areas; a statistics course; and the thesis courses (698A and 698B). The thesis courses may not be taken simultaneously. Core courses in the core content areas that do not include the student’s own graduate study area may be counted as supporting work courses. An empirical thesis is required.

Admission to Candidacy for the Doctoral Degree

The Graduate Adviser’s office has a policy statement, Admission to Candidacy, which you should consult; it describes the departmental and Graduate School requirements and procedures for admission to candidacy. The required course work for admission to candidacy includes three core courses from at least two of the core content areas, two quantitative courses, and appropriate training in the student’s area of specialization.  Discuss area requirements with your area head.

Time Limits

You may not receive TA and/or GRA support for more than 14 long semesters.  Students must complete their doctoral degree in seven years.  If they do not, subsequent courses will be billed at the non-resident tuition rate, regardless of the student’s residency status. No Departmental funding is provided after the sixth year.