2014-2015 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Social Psychology, PhD

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Leonard Newman, Ph.D.
430 Huntington Hall

Since its creation in 1924, the program has embraced research as a central focus for the training of social psychologists. We train students with the skills necessary to function as applied or research scientists within one or more of the many sub-domains of social psychology. Our program explicitly adopts multidisciplinary themes to create a unique graduate training experience. The central focus of the social psychology program is the scholarship of the causes, consequences, and/or remediation of social challenges. Students are encouraged to pursue specific research interests that complement this broad programmatic theme.


The admissions committee consists of social psychology area faculty members. This committee makes decisions on the admission of applicants to graduate school; students who have or will soon complete either bachelor’s or master’s degrees, and who qualify in the judgment of this committee are admitted. To make this judgment, the committee considers a candidate’s letters of recommendation, verbal and quantitative Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, previous grade record, personal statement, and whether the research interests of this student matches with a member of the faculty.

Program Requirements

Consistent with the general goal of the program, students are strongly encouraged to become involved in research at an early point in their training by participating in faculty research projects and by carrying out individual research under the guidance of faculty members. Accordingly, all students obtain extensive training in research methods, both within a classroom setting and in actual research practice. Students earn both the master of science (M.S.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees; the master’s degree is a prerequisite for the Ph.D.


The courses offered in the program consist of intensive exposure to the prominent theories and methods in social psychology. In order to qualify for the Ph.D., students are required to take 18 credits of theory-relevant coursework, which may consist of any combination of the following three-credit courses:

Methods Courses

Students must also complete 15 credits of the following methods courses, one of which must be PSY 679 :

Departmental Requirements

Finally, students are required to fulfill an additional 33 credits of departmental requirements. These requirements serve to ensure that the student’s training is well-rounded and well-grounded in methodological fundamentals.

Qualifying Examination for the Ph.D.

After a student completes the master’s degree and all requisite coursework, she or he selects one of two possible options to qualify as a doctoral candidate. These options are (a) writing a literature review of an area within social psychology in a style of reviews published in the Psychological Review (and similar sources); or (b) preparing for a written examination based on a list of readings. Once a student has passed the qualifying examination, she or he may select a topic and complete a dissertation regarding it. The student defends her or his work before her or his doctoral committee, including many social psychology faculty. It is recommended that the qualifying examination be satisfied during the third year of graduate school.

Doctoral Dissertation

When a student passes the qualifying examination, she or he is a doctoral candidate and may select a topic on which to write a doctoral dissertation, which also must be defended before a committee composed of faculty members knowledgeable in the domain of the research. Before actually conducting the thesis research, the candidate defends a proposal for this work before this committee. It is recommended that the dissertation be completed during the student’s fourth year of graduate studies.


The social psychology program tries to find sources of support for all of its students. This support may consist of fellowships, teaching assistantships, or research assistantships. A number of such assistantships are available, and outstanding students are placed into competition for University-wide fellowships. In addition, students are encouraged to apply for available external funding.

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