Ph.D. in Psychological Sciences

UConn offers a Ph.D. in psychological sciences with eight areas of concentration, open to full-time students at the Storrs campus.

Our Ph.D. students benefit from advanced study with world-class faculty. They also gain hands-on training through teaching, research, clinical, and outreach experiences. Alumni pursue exciting careers in academia, research, government, health care, industry, and beyond.

The University of Connecticut is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top 25 public institutions by U.S. News & World Report. The Department of Psychological Sciences is one of the most active and collaborative scholarly communities at UConn. It is among the top 15 psychology departments for total research and development spending, according to the National Science Foundation.
 

Full Ph.D. program requirements

Concentrations

Ph.D. students can choose a concentration in one of eight specializations that align with the Department’s research strengths.

Our concentrations in behavioral neuroscience and neuroscience offer a wide variety of approaches and methods for studying the relationship between the nervous system and behavior. Behavioral neuroscience emphasizes electrophysiological, genetic, pharmacological, and neurochemical analyses of sensory, motor, motivational, and cognitive processes organized by the forebrain, along with animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Clinical psychology trains students to conduct empirical research on the causes, assessment, and treatment of mental health conditions and to deliver evidence-based services that promote wellbeing across the lifespan.

Developmental psychology takes an integrative approach to the study of development from infancy to early adulthood. It investigates growth and transformation across multiple domains (cognitive, language, social, emotional), embraces a variety of theoretical perspectives, utilizes a wide range of methodologies, and crosses multiple levels of analysis.

Ecological psychology emphasizes the interactions between organisms and their environments, self-organization, and non-linear dynamics in the context of natural-law explanations of biological behavior.

Industrial and organizational psychology emphasizes the research and application of psychological methods and principles to understand human behavior in work settings, with a particular focus on occupational health psychology.

Language and cognition studies how humans represent and communicate both the external world and our internal states. Methods include behavioral experiments, neuroimaging, and computational modeling.

Social psychology emphasizes important social issues—like health, prejudice, and discrimination—using multiple theoretical perspectives, methods, and levels of analysis, including individual, dyad, group, intergroup, culture, network, society, international, and ecology.

For more information about admissions or the application process for the Ph.D. in psychological sciences, please contact psychgrad@uconn.edu or reach out to the director of each concentration.

What is it like to be a student in the UConn psychological sciences Ph.D. program? View testimonials from our current graduate students!

Program Sequence

The following sections outline Department and Graduate School requirements for completing the MS and Ph.D. in psychological sciences. These sections suggest the sequence in which graduate students should complete the milestones toward their degrees. For more information, please reference the Policies and Rules for Graduate Study in Psychological Sciences.

If you have an external master’s degree, please consult with your advisors and the director of your concentration before proceeding with these guidelines.

Master’s

Step 1: Establish Advisory Committee

Your MS advisory committee should include at least three members: your major advisor, an associate advisor who represents your area of concentration, and another associate advisor outside of your concentration.

If you change your major advisor, please fill out the Change in Major Advisor form. If you change your associate advisor, please fill out the Request for Change in the Plan of Study form. You must submit both forms to the Registrar's Office and the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator.

Note: One of your associate advisors can be from another concentration in the Department or, with proper qualifications, they can be from another department in the University or from outside the University. A written request to have the external associate advisor appointed to the committee must be submitted by the major advisor to the Associate Head for Graduate Studies, and the Graduate School. The request must be accompanied by the CV of the external advisor.

Step 2: Submit Plan of Study

Submit the MS Plan of Study, signed by all members of your MS advisory committee, to the Registrar's office and the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator by the end of the fourth week of your final semester before completing the MS degree. The Plan of Study lists 30 credits, including 9 credits of GRAD 5950 (recommended to enroll in 3 credits for semesters 1-3) and 21 credits of coursework.

If you make changes to your Plan of Study after you submit it to the Registrar’s Office, you must fill out a Request for Changes in Plan of Study form and submit it to the Registrar's Office.

Note: Please contact the director of your concentration for guidelines on the specific courses you need to take. Once you complete 9 credits of required GRAD 5950, you may start to enroll in GRAD 6950.

Step 3: Apply for Graduation

Students who are candidates for graduation must apply to graduate through the Student Administration System.

You should apply to graduate by the fourth week of your final semester for each degree you are completing (or the spring semester for summer graduates). You can apply to graduate once registration for your last semester opens up. The Degree Audit section of the Office of the Registrar will then determine whether all degree requirements will be satisfied by the end of your final semester. For more information about using the system to apply for graduation, see Apply for Graduation.

Note: Applying to graduate also grants you the ability to participate in the spring commencement ceremonies.

Step 4: Prepare for Oral Defense

  • Meet with your advisory committee to establish the details for your defense and schedule a room in Bousfield Building.
  • Email the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator two weeks in advance of your oral defense with the date, time, location, room number, advisor name, and a working copy of your thesis.

Step 5: Submitting Final Thesis and Final Paperwork

Final Thesis

Before you submit your thesis to the Registrar's Office, make sure your thesis is appropriately formatted. Find more information about format specifications on the Registrar's website.

  • Submit your thesis via Submittable following the instructions in this Submittable help file, and submit your Degree Audit Signature Approval form to the Office of the Registrar.
  • Your submission will be reviewed by the Office of the Registrar administrator for format compliance, and you will receive notification if you need to make any revisions.
  • Accepted theses may be posted immediately unless the submitting author requests otherwise. No revisions are permitted once accepted by the Office of the Registrar.
  • We recommend that you use your full legal name on the title page and on the approval page.
  • You are no longer required to submit a printed copy of your thesis.

    Final Paperwork
    • Submit your Degree Audit Signature Approval form to the Office of the Registrar (this webform accounts for both the final exam and overall approval of the thesis).
    • Submit final thesis and approval form by the published deadline (no later than two weeks before the end of the semester for the degree you are completing) on the Academic Calendar.
    • You should also review your Plan of Study to make sure the courses you list correspond to your transcript. If they do not, you will be required to submit a Request for Changes in Plan of Study form to the Office of the Registrar.

    Doctoral

    During Degree Program

    Step 1: Establish Advisory Committee

    Your Ph.D. advisory committee can be the same as your MS committee, but it does not have to be. It should include at least three members: your major advisor, an associate advisor who represents your area of concentration, and another associate advisor outside your concentration.

    If you change your major advisor, please fill out the Change in Major Advisor form. If you change your associate advisor, please fill out the Request for Change in the Plan of Study form. You must submit both forms to the Registrar's Office and the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator.

    Note: One of the associate advisors can be from another concentration in the Department or, with proper qualifications, they can be from another department in the University or from outside the University. A written request to have the external associate advisor appointed to the committee must be submitted by the major advisor to the Associate Head for Graduate Studies, and the Graduate School. The request must be accompanied by the CV of the external advisor.

    Step 2: Submit Plan of Study

    The Registrar's Office requires that students submit a Ph.D. Plan of Study, signed by all members of your Ph.D. advisory committee, no later than the completion of 18 credits. Students should also submit a copy to the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator. The Plan of Study lists 30 credits which include a minimum of 15 credits of GRAD 6950 (recommended to enroll in 3 credits for semesters 4-8) and a minimum of 15 credits of coursework, including related area courses and breadth courses.

    Before you submit the Plan of Study to the Registrar's Office, you must:

    1. Gather approvals from all members of your advisory committee.
    2. Submit your Plan of Study to the Associate Head of Graduate Studies for approval, along with the Departmental Requirements Form for the Ph.D. Plan of Study, including breadth courses, instructor names, and any waivers for STAT or breadth courses.

    Note: Please contact the director of your concentration for guidelines on the specific courses that you need to take. You cannot include courses that are listed on your master's Plan of Study in your Ph.D. Plan of Study.

    Step 3: General Exam

    Note: This is an approximate time of when you should take the general exam. Some students will take it while completing their master's degree. Check with your advisor or the director of your concentration about when you should complete the general exam.


    Once you complete the general exam, submit the Report on the General Examination for the Doctoral Degree form to the Registrar's Office and copy the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator.

    After the Graduate School approves your general exam, please inform the Department's administrative manager so that they can approve your pay increase.

    Step 4: Dissertation Propsoal

    Students must hold a dissertation proposal meeting and collect approvals from their reviewers, the members of their advisory committee, and the director of their concentration.

    After you have completed these steps, submit the following information to the Associate Head for Graduate Studies for final departmental approval:

    After receiving final approval from the Associate Head for Graduate Studies, please submit the original form to the Registrar's Office and submit a copy to the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator.

    Final Semester

    Step 5: Apply for Graduation

    Students who are candidates for graduation must apply to graduate through the Student Administration System. Apply to graduate by the fourth week of your final semester for each degree you are completing (or the spring semester for summer graduates). You can apply to graduate once registration for your last semester opens up. The Degree Audit section of the Office of the Registrar will then determine whether all degree requirements will be satisfied by the end of your final semester. Learn more about how to apply for graduation.

    Note: Applying for graduation grants you the ability to participate in the spring commencement ceremonies.


    What’s my completion date?

    The completion date signifies the point at which a student has been separated from active status at the University. For spring and fall semester graduates, the University conferral date will also represent the completion date, provided all degree requirements are completed by necessary deadlines. Graduates finishing during the summer will have a completion date determined by the submission of their final approved paperwork and/or completion of their enrollment. As students are no longer eligible to work as graduate assistants after their completion date, students should coordinate the end date of any summer employment with the submission of their final paperwork.

    For students completing prior to the end of the fall or spring semester an alternate completion date can be requested upon submission of all final paperwork and completion of your academic engagement. Students should typically only request an alternate completion date if enrolled solely in research credits or independent study credits for the semester. Please note, if enrolled in a class that will not have completed and had a grade posted prior to the requested completion date, then an alternate completion date may not be possible. An Alternate Completion Date Request form must be submitted to the Graduate School for approval for international students or those with Graduate Assistantships.

    Final paperwork approved and submitted past the posted deadline, but prior to 10th day of the fall or spring semester, requires no additional enrollment by a student. Students who choose to self-enroll but submit final documents for graduation prior to the 10th day are still responsible for any tuition/fees incurred. Submission after the 10th day of fall or spring semester will require enrollment for that semester.

    Step 6: Preparing for Oral Defense

    When applicable, talk with your advisory committee about scheduling your final exam/oral defense for your Ph.D. dissertation. Once you decide on the details, book a room for your defense and announce your oral defense in the University Events Calendar at least two weeks before the date of your defense. Please cross-list the event in the Psychology Department calendar.

    Once you submit the event, email the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator two weeks before your oral defense with the date, time, location, room number, advisor name, title of dissertation, and working copy of dissertation.

    One week prior to your defense, complete and submit the Departmental Dissertation Defense form to the Psych Graduate Program Coordinator only. This form indicates your dissertation examiners and solidifies that all members involved will be present at the Ph.D. defense.

    Note: The proposal reviewers must be two faculty members outside of your advisory committee. The Department requires at least one reviewer to be a member of the UConn graduate faculty; the Graduate School encourages the use of at least one reviewer from outside the University. Individual concentration programs may have policies in addition to those listed here; please check with your advisor or the director of your concentration for details of the proposal procedures in your program.

    Step 7: Submitting the Final Dissertation and Final Paperwork

    Final Dissertation

    Before you submit your dissertation to the Registrar's Office, check that you have requested all requirements for formatting. Find detailed information regarding format guidelines on Registrar’s website.

    After you successfully complete your defense, your committee may require further revisions of your dissertation. Once you have completed all necessary revisions and have final approval, you are ready to prepare the final copy of your dissertation for submission.

    • Submit one electronic copy of your dissertation to Submittable. Follow the instructions found in the Submittable help file. Effective May 9, 2016, a printed copy of the dissertation is no longer required to be submitted.
    • To ensure efficient degree auditing of student records at graduation time, please be sure you have already submitted a Doctoral Plan of Study, a Report on the General Examination for the Doctoral Degree, and a Dissertation Proposal for the Doctoral Degree to the Office of the Registrar. Review your transcript and make sure grades are posted for all courses listed on your Plan of Study, including dissertation research credits. Any discrepancies may cause delays in graduation.
    • Your electronically submitted dissertation will be reviewed by the Office of the Registrar administrator for format compliance, and you will receive notification if any revisions need to be made. Once the dissertation is approved by the Office of the Registrar administrator, your dissertation will be posted to Submittable and will be publicly viewable on the web according to the embargo period you selected. You will receive a notification via email of the posting. You will not be able to make changes or revisions to your dissertation submission after it has been approved and published in the Doctoral Dissertation Collection of UConn’s Submittable.

    Note: If you are a student in the clinical psychology concentration and have defended prior to your internship, do not submit your approval form or your final dissertation until the year you will be conferring your degree.


    Final Paperwork

    You must also submit the required paperwork below by the published deadline on the Academic Calendar:

    See the Office of the Registrar's web page on Doctoral Degree Programs for more information about degree requirements and graduation information.