Information for Prospective Students
The department no longer prints information to be mailed. Prospective students can download or print information about our program from this website.
Students are admitted by one of the department's eight areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Health Psychology, Learning and Behavior, Quantitative, and Social Psychology. With rare exception, this area affiliation is retained throughout a student's stay in the program. Much of the program is administered by the areas. For example, the area has immediate responsibility for directing the student's progress. However, students can take courses from all other areas, except certain courses in clinical. The department also has several cross-area research programs.
The department DOES NOT OFFER A MASTERS ONLY OR PSY.D. PROGRAM. A Bachelor's degree (Bachelor's of 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. The Ph.D. program is a five year, full-time only program. All areas are research-oriented. 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.
The program begins with the core curriculum. These courses have dual roles: they provide breadth and they serve as a basis for subsequent specialized study. The core program has three parts: a two-quarter statistics series, four courses selected from among special offerings in each of the eight areas, and a two or three quarter research sequence. In the latter sequence the student designs, conducts, and writes up a research project under the direction of two faculty members. Core-program work is completed by the end of the second year.
Much of the course work in the second and third year is devoted to the requirements of the student's major area. In addition, a minor area of coursework is selected from seven areas (there is no clinical minor) or from specialized minors including diversity science and political psychology. A student may also petition to formulate an individual minor.
Throughout the program, students are involved in research working with one or more faculty advisors (see Faculty Research Interests). Some students are paid research assistants in an ongoing research program related to the student's area of concentration. Students develop their teaching skills by participating in a Teaching Practicum Program working as paid teaching assistants and, in some cases, teaching their own courses.
In clinical psychology, students continue their specialized work through courses closely coordinated with laboratory and practicum experience in a clinical setting. Although the primary prerequisite for beginning specialization in any area is successful completion of the core program, some additional screening is required in clinical psychology. Continuation into the second year of the Clinical program must be approved by the Clinical Area Committee.
When sufficiently prepared through courses and research, and (in some cases) practicum experience, some students take major area written qualifying examinations. The requirements for these examinations are set by the areas.
By the fourth year a student should have enough experience and knowledge of current research issues to begin formulating a dissertation proposal.
Thereafter, the student concentrates primarily on dissertation research. The oral qualifying examination, focusing on the dissertation proposal, must be completed no later than the end of spring quarter of the fourth year. Upon completion of the dissertation, the student takes a final oral examination, defending his/her research and explaining its contribution to his/her field of knowledge.
Although this program is described as spanning five years of graduate study, it is flexible enough to permit considerable individual variation. For all students, work toward the Ph.D. degree must be completed within seven years from the time of admission. The dissertation must be filed within three years of the oral qualifying examination.
For a more detailed outline of the course of study, please see the Graduate Division's Program Requirements for Psychology or the Psychology Graduate Handbook.
It is UC policy that students who have earned a previous Master’s Degree in Psychology are not permitted to earn a duplicate Master’s Degree in Psychology at UCLA. However, once admitted to our program, students with extensive prior training in a given area, such as an M.A. in Psychology or another major, may petition the Department for exemption from courses. To learn more about possible course exemption, please contact the Graduate Advising Supervisor.