Preparing for Admission to the Graduate Program

The Department of Psychology invites applications from individuals 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 six year, full-time program. Candidates seeking only the M.A., part-time, or limited student status are not admitted. A Bachelor’s degree (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor 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 quarter. The Department offers training in seven specialty areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Health Psychology, 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 counselors or private practitioners.

Those candidates primarily seeking training as psychotherapists or careers in forensic psychology, counseling psychology, 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.


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. 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 internships.  Psychology courses that you may consider taking if you did not major in psychology could include courses in introductory psychology, statistics, research methods with lab, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive, clinical, developmental, learning & behavior, and social which can be taken at any accredited school/university worldwide.

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.

Research Experience, Letters, and Other Important Considerations

In addition, 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.

The Department seeks a diverse student body. Cultural diversity and socioeconomic background are strongly considered when assessing a 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.