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Psychological Sciences Ph.D. Program

Thank you for your interest in the Psychological Sciences Ph.D. program at UC Merced. We will be accepting applications for Fall 2024. Applications are due Dec. 1, 2023, and admissions decisions will be made in late December and early January.

GRE scores are not required for applications to our Ph.D. program for 2024 admission but can be optionally reported by applicants. The decision to include or not include GRE scores in the application will not affect admissions decisions.


UC Merced offers doctoral graduate training in Psychological Sciences, culminating in the Ph.D., with emphases in developmental, health, and quantitative methods, measurement, and statistics. We welcome applications for Ph.D. studies in any of these three areas.

    Guiding Principle

    We create, cherish, and champion a culture of community, collegiality, and compassion. 

    Program Goal

    Our goal is to prepare sophisticated and creative independent researchers who can apply the qualitative distinctions of our program in a variety of professional settings, including academic institutions, public or private agencies, and industry. To that end, our Program Learning Outcomes indicate the most prominent skills and knowledge that our graduates will possess to enable them to start successful research careers. Graduates have gone on to a range of positions upon graduation where they utilize their research competence.

    What Distinguishes Us

    Having opened its doors in 2005, UC Merced is one of the youngest research universities in the United States. The Psychological Sciences Ph.D. program has grown rapidly since then, with 18 faculty and 44 graduate students in 2018. Our highly productive faculty conduct impactful research and have gained national and international recognition.

    Our program’s national stature has likewise grown rapidly. In the 2018 US and World News Report, our Ph.D. program ranked 90th (tied with UC Santa Cruz) out of over 200 Ph.D. programs in psychology. We are by far the youngest program ranked this high. We were ranked as 190+ in 2013 and 158 in 2015, indicating a remarkable increase in recognition and influence in a very short time.

    We are a congenial group of faculty and graduate students who enjoy creating a supportive work environment that gives everyone here the opportunity to succeed. We strive to maintain a positive, supportive environment for all members of our academic community. This starts with faculty actively practicing kindness, civility, and empathy with one another and with students. We believe that by applying and modeling these values, students more often feel respected and empowered to do their best.

    With nine members, we claim the largest identified health psychology faculty group in a regular academic department of psychology (discounting universities with research medical schools) and certainly one of the strongest such research and training programs anywhere in the world. Among strengths in this group is our focus on understanding disparities in health, especially as relevant to our unique region.

    Likewise, we feature one of the largest and arguably strongest quantitative methods, measurement, and statistics research and training programs anywhere. Our five quantitative scientists conduct research from both frequentist and Bayesian approaches applied to a wide range of methods.

    Developmental psychology at UC Merced seeks to achieve world-class recognition for strong empirical research on cognitive, language, and socio-emotional development that relies on advanced quantitative methods and emphasizes the unique contextual and biological factors that may promote or hinder healthy development.

    View the Psychological Sciences digital brochure

    To apply, visit the UC Merced Graduate Division website.

    Updated 2023