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Understanding Behavior: From Neurons to Societies

Program Overview

Students are actively engaged in research from the start of their graduate training. We implement a strong mentorship model, where Ph.D. students work from day 1 in close collaboration with one or more faculty mentors, developing increasing sophistication and independence over their years of training.

Our Ph.D. program emphasizes a strong base of coursework, including research methods, statistics, and a one-year professional seminar covering the breadth of psychology. This base is supplemented by more specialized work in one or more of our three areas of emphasis: developmental psychology, health psychology, and/or quantitative psychology. Formal requirements are described here.

The Ph.D. program is for full-time students only. Students typically complete their Ph.D. in 5-6 years. Only 11% of graduates have taken more than 6 years for completion and 44% have done so in 5 years or less. A sample curriculum and timeline are provided here.

Please note that we do not offer training in clinical psychology or related fields such as counseling or school psychology. Neither do we offer Masters-only training; we only admit students committed to pursuing the Ph.D., but it is possible to earn a Master’s degree along the way.

Mentorship Model

We apply a mentorship model to provide the best research training. A mentor is more than an adviser. A mentor provides you with wisdom, technical knowledge, assistance, support, empathy, and respect throughout, and often beyond, your graduate career. Mentoring helps students understand how their ambitions fit into graduate education, department life, and career choices.

An effective mentoring relationship develops over time. The student benefits from the mentor’s support, skills, wisdom, and coaching. Later, both parties deepen their working relationship, typically collaborating on projects in which the student develops into a junior colleague.

After a while, the mentee may need some separation from the mentor to test his or her own ideas. This distancing is a sign that the mentoring relationship is maturing and providing the mentee with the skills needed to function independently.

Finally, both mentee and mentor may redefine their relationship as one of equals, characterized over time by informal contact and mutual assistance, thus becoming true professional colleagues.

In addition, there is both formal and informal peer mentoring provided in the program. Formal peer mentoring is provided through the Grad EXCEL Peer Mentoring Program, conducted by the Graduate Division, where advanced students are selected and trained to provide peer mentoring to every first-year student. Informal peer mentoring is usually provided in each faculty member’s research/lab team, where more advanced students provide guidance and feedback to less advanced students.

Psychological Sciences Ph.D. Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Core Knowledge: Graduate students will demonstrate advanced knowledge in a specialized area of Psychological Sciences of their choosing.
  2. Statistics and Methods: Graduate students will demonstrate skills in the use the basic data gathering methods statistical techniques used for typical analyses in conducting research in the Psychological Sciences.
  3. Pedagogy: Graduate students will participate in classroom pedagogy used in undergraduate education.
  4. Communication Skills: Graduate students will demonstrate effective communication skills appropriate for the field of psychology. These include written communication (clear expression, compliance with APA style) and oral communication (effective oral explanation of disciplinary material for both lay and scientific audiences).
  5. Professionalism: Graduate students know and participate in the intellectual and organizational aspects of the profession of psychology.
  6. Independent Research: Graduate students will conduct independent research resulting in an original contribution to knowledge in Psychological Sciences, including all steps from generating an original question to writing a manuscript describing all aspects of the study.