Preparing for admission to the Graduate Program

The Department of Psychology invites applications from students of high intellectual and scientific aptitude, especially those interested in shaping the future of psychology through research.

The Department offers the Ph.D. degree, a five year, full-time program.  Candidates seeking only the M.A. , part-time,  or limited student status are not admitted. A Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor's or Arts or Bachelor's of Sciences) or its equivalent from an accredited university worldwide is not required to apply to our program, but is required to enter our program. A Master’s degree is not required to apply or enter our program. Applications are considered only for the Fall term. The Department offers training in eight specialty areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Health Psychology, Learning and Behavior, Quantitative, and Social Psychology.

All areas of the Ph.D. program are research-oriented. Therefore, applicants should have research experience before applying to the program. The Department's aim is to train researchers dedicated to increasing the body of scientific knowledge upon which the discipline of psychology rests. This applies to the Clinical area as well: although this area offers excellent clinical training, the emphasis lies in research, not in training private practitioners.

Those candidates primarily seeking training as psychotherapists or careers in counseling or industrial/organizational psychology, should not apply to this program. Instead, please consult the American Psychological Association's Graduate Study in Psychology to identify programs more congruent with your career goals.

Coursework (For Students Entering Fall 2013 and Beyond)

The department regards a broad undergraduate background in the behavioral, biological, physical, and social sciences as the best preparation for graduate study in psychology. It is desirable but not required to have majored in psychology. A course in college level math or statistics is required.

IMPORTANT: Some areas within this Department have additional requirements. Be sure to view their admissions statements below:

Behavioral Neuroscience Area: Undergraduate courses in basic biological and physical sciences are strongly recommended.

Clinical Area: The program requires a psychology major or its course equivalent, as well as the Psychology GRE subject test. Students admitted to the Clinical Area must pass a Live Scan background check, arranged by the program, which is required for participation in clinical practica and internship.

Cognitive Area: Consistent with the interdisciplinary nature of cognitive psychology and cognitive science, the area welcomes applicants with majors or strong backgrounds in any of a number of areas, including cognitive science, psychology, computer science, applied mathematics, engineering, neuroscience and linguistics.

GRE Test Scores and Grade Point Averages

Candidate evaluations are handled by Faculty Area Admission Committees. For Fall of 2014, the Committees reviewed 856 applicants to form an incoming class of 26. As with any graduate program, test scores and GPAs are very important. The average Graduate Record Exam (GRE) percentile scores of students entering our program for Fall 2014 are: Verbal 93th percentile, Quantitative 84th percentile, Analytical Writing Section 95th percentile, and Psychology Subject Test 97th percentile. 

Please note that the Department DOES NOT ACCEPT GRE SCORES OLDER THAN FIVE YEARS and reviewers consider your MOST RECENT SCORES. In addition, the Department does not have a minimum score "cut-off." All applicants are required to submit GRE General Test scores for the three sections of the test which includes verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing.

The average overall undergraduate GPA of the Fall 2014 incoming class is 3.77. University policy holds that an applicant must have a minimum GPA of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better--or its equivalent if the letter grade system is not used--for the last 60 semester units or last 90 quarter units of undergraduate study and in any post-baccalaureate study.

Research Experience, Letters, and Other Important Considerations

In addition to the above measures, very careful consideration is given to your Statement of Purpose, research experience and letters of recommendation. An outstanding record in any one of these areas, especially demonstrated achievement in research endeavors, may compensate for poorer performance in another. Research experience--gained as a laboratory assistant, through independent studies or prior graduate work, or by writing a senior or honors thesis--is a valuable asset for all applicants to the Ph.D. program. Please note that although substantial prior research experience is not a formal application requirement, such experiences greatly enhance an applicant's likelihood of admission.

The Department seeks a diverse student body. Cultural diversity and socioeconomic background are strongly considered when assessing candidate's potential for graduate study. Applicants are encouraged to include information on their background, achievements, obstacles, and special contributions to the discipline on their application.