Ph.D. Requirements

Our program emphasizes research and scholarship. Our goal is for most students to finish within five years and get a job; students in the clinical program will need a 6th year to complete an APA-approved clinical internship.

Requirement Timing Description
P&N First Year Seminar Fall and Spring of 1st year
Year-long course that meets weekly to guide students through program requirements. Topics covered include the preparation of competitive fellowship and grant applications (e.g., NSF GRFP), ethics, and the basics of scientific talks.

The year ends with a First Year Festival where all 1st years tell the department about their research interests. 

Students Matriculating Fall 2022 or Later


P&N Breadth Course


One graduate course outside of your training area





Fall and Spring of 1st year


1st or 2nd year





Year-long course that surveys and integrates current topics across the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience. Can also be taken in the 2nd year.


Choose in consultation with your advisor and the DGS

Students Who Matriculated Fall 2021 or Earlier*


Four Core Courses





typically completed in years 1-3





  • Psychopathology
  • Cognitive Development OR Social Development
  • Social Behavior & Personality
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral and Computational Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience I
Each program has the option of selecting one course outside of P&N to be approved for inclusion on this list.
Students are not advised to wait years for a specific course. If a student decides that a course other than those listed above would be more suitable for the student’s graduate education, it is possible to request a substitute, as long as the student obtains permission from the advisor and area head first.  This request must be submitted directly to the DGS (cc’ing both advisor and area head) with a brief explanation of why a given course is more suitable than the listed core course.  Note that undergraduate courses cannot be used.
* with permission, students who matriculated in Fall 2021 may choose to fulfill the breadth requirements of the matriculating class of 2022.
Successful defense of the Major Area Paper Fall of 3rd year is recommended; latest possible date is Spring of 3rd year The Major Area Paper (MAP) and oral examination serves as the preliminary examination in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. More information can be found by clicking on this link.
Dissertation Proposal 4th year

Forming a dissertation committee is the first step towards the dissertation; the committee will advise on the content of the proposed dissertation. Students are encouraged to meet with their committees prior to writing their proposal. During the proposal meeting, the student and the committee finalize the plan for the dissertation. 

Area-Specific Requirements see area pages In addition to the department-wide requirements, each training area may require practica, talks in brownbags, and/or additional courses (or, in the case of the Clinical program, an internship). Please refer to each area page for the additional requirements: Clinical Psychology, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Systems and Integrative Neuroscience.)
TA'ing typically years 2-4
  • 4 TA'ships are required for most students
  • Students in the Clinical program are required to complete 3
  • Students transferring from the CNAP program are required to complete 3 if they matriculated in Fall 2021 or earlier; students matriculating in Fall 2022 or later will complete 4 TAships.
Thesis and Final Defense

5th year

(6th year for Clinical students)

The final requirement for the PhD is the dissertation; both the written document and an oral examination must be passed. Our policy is that part of the final defense is open to the public; this consists of a colloquium-style talk followed by audience questions. The second part of the oral exam is closed to the public, and consists of questions from committee members.