The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Psychology - PhD

Division: Social Sciences
Degree Type: PhD (For the MA degree, see the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences)

Program Description

Originally founded as the Laboratory of Psychology in 1893, the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago has been for a century a leading center of scholarship, research and teaching in psychology and related fields. Among its distinguished faculty and students have been James Rowland Angell; John Dewey; George Herbert Mead; John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism; L. L. Thurstone, a pioneer in psychological measurement; and Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize winner for his work in cerebral lateralization. Consistent with the interdisciplinary traditions of the University of Chicago, many faculty members serve in more than one of the department's programs.

The interdisciplinary character of the University is further reflected in the close connections the Department of Psychology maintains with other departments in the University. The department's faculty and students participate in courses, colloquia, workshops, and joint research ventures with scholars in related areas (e.g., anthropology, biology, computer science, education, linguistics, and philosophy) and in the University's professional schools (i.e., business, public policy, law, medicine, and social service administration).

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Specific Areas of Focus

  • Cognition
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Integrative Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology



Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

The Department of Psychology admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus interviews will take place in mid-February.

Degree Objective

The Department of Psychology admits applicants only for the PhD degree. We do not offer an MA program. If you are interested in pursuing an MA focusing in Psychology, look at the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS).

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form and Supplemental Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee Fee waiver information »
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores
  5. Statement of Academic Purpose
  6. Resume/CV
  7. Transcripts
  8. Supplemental Data Form


Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

The common curriculum consists of 11 courses. Other requirements for graduate students will be set by the student's area of specialization.

  1. Proseminar: One-quarter course in which faculty members with a primary affiliation in the Department of Psychology give a summary of their ongoing research. This introduces new students to the range of research areas in the department.
  2. Statistics Requirement: Three courses: Statistical Methods and Applications, or a more advanced Statistics course, Experimental Design I, Experimental Design II. These courses must be passed with a grade of "B" or higher.
  3. Trial Research Seminar: All graduate students are required to take the trial research seminar in Spring Quarter of the first year. The purpose of this seminar is to help students formulate and complete their trial research projects.
  4. Core Courses: Five core courses: Biological Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Advance Seminar Developmental Psychology, Advance Seminar Social Psychology, Sensation and Perception. Students will be required to take three of these five courses. These courses must be passed with a grade of "B" or higher.
  5. Minor Area: Students must take three graduate courses that provide coherent coverage of a discipline outside of psychology that complements his or her course of study within psychology (e.g., computer science, neurobiology, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, mathematics, statistics beyond the courses required). These courses should be chosen in consultation with the student's advisor, and they may be taken pass-fail.
  6. Trial Research Project: Each student must complete a trial research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor or advisors by the end of the seventh week of Spring Quarter of the second year. The student must submit a proposal for the trial research project to his or her committee for their approval by the second week of Autumn Quarter of the second year. Essential to this approval is the committee's decision that the project can feasibly be completed by the end of the second year. On Friday of the seventh week of the Spring Quarter of the student's second year, a written report of the trial research project is due. The student must defend the trial research paper at a hearing with his or her committee before the end of the Spring Quarter. Successful completion of the trial research project is a prerequisite for PhD candidacy.
  7. Dissertation: Once a dissertation committee exists, the student must formulate an independent research project to be carried out under the committee's guidance. The student then prepares a written dissertation proposal and submits it to his or her committee. When the student's advisor agrees, the student schedules an oral defense of the proposal. The completed thesis must be submitted to all three committee members. When the student's advisor agrees, the student schedules an oral defense of the dissertation. The oral exam is administered by four members of the University community: the three members of the dissertation committee and an outside reader. If, after the oral defense, all committee members approve the thesis, the student has met the Psychology Department's requirements for the PhD degree.

Costs & Financial Aid

As a general principle, we provide extensive funding for all students who matriculate in our doctoral programs. Applicants to our doctoral programs are considered for all fellowship resources at the University of Chicago for which they are eligible.

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