Graduate Program Brochure

Graduate Program Brochure

General Information

Graduate study in psychology at Penn State is characterized by highly flexible, individualized programs leading to the Ph.D. in psychology. Each student is associated with one of the five program areas offered in the department. These programs are: Clinical (including Adult and Child-Clinical); Cognitive; Developmental; Industrial/ Organizational; and Social. Each of these areas is described more fully in the attached material. The program descriptions include listings of the relevant graduate faculty at the University Park campus. Penn State faculty at lo-cations other than University Park are also members of the Department of Psychology and are available to supervise graduate students’ work. Their research interests are described in the Synopsis of Faculty Research Interests. Faculty with emeritus, joint, adjunct, and affiliate ap-pointments provide additional resources.

To be considered for admission, applicants must select one of the five program areas. Once a student is admitted to a program area, it is possible to change areas only with faculty approval of the involved areas. The details of a student’s program are formulated on an individual basis with a faculty adviser. Each student organizes his or her work into one major and one minor ar-ea. The major is selected from among the five specialty areas of the department listed above. The minor may be fulfilled within the department by work in the four remaining areas of psychol-ogy or by satisfying minor requirements of any other division of the University entirely outside the department (e.g., statistics, computer science, special education, sociology, biology).

Financial Support

Many graduate students in psychology are supported by half-time departmental assistantships that include a stipend and remission of tuition, permit 9–12 credits of course work each semes-ter, and require twenty hours of work per week. Support is also provided by a variety of training grants, individual faculty members’ research grants, and various University-wide funds.

Application Deadline and Additional Information

Additional information may be obtained from:

Christine Andrus, Administrative Support Assistant (cma18@psu.edu)
Department of Psychology
The Pennsylvania State University
133A Moore Building
University Park, PA 16802.
Ph: 814-863-1721

Completed applications must be received by:
DECEMBER 1, 2023, for Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, I/O, and Social Psychology

Program Area Descriptions

Cognitive Psychology

The Cognitive Psychology program at Penn State emphasizes research and theory in a variety of areas of cognitive psychology and human performance. All cognitive students’ programs emphasize basic theo-retical issues and research methodologies in cognitive psychology, but individual programs vary widely depending upon the student’s substantive interest. As in the other programs in the department, the stu-dent works with his or her faculty adviser to develop an individualized program of major and minor areas. Faculty and students in the cognitive area participate in a weekly “bag lunch” that provides opportunities to discuss ongoing research projects and issues. Graduates of the program are prepared to enter re-search and teaching positions in university or college settings, or to work in applied research organizations.

Students in the Cognitive Psychology program may choose elective courses from, or minor in, areas such as linguistics, computer science, kinesiology (motor control), and neuroscience (SCAN). The College of Medicine at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA, the School of Information Sciences and Technology and the Center for Language Acquisition on the University Park campus provide addi-tional resources for students interested in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. More than fifty faculty members in other departments of the University also have interests in cognitive research that complement those of the cognitive faculty and students, providing a broad range of interdisciplinary per-spectives.

Developmental Psychology

The doctoral program in Developmental Psychology at Penn State offers a flexible program designed to provide students with a broad theoretical and empirical background in developmental psychology coupled with expertise in one or more areas of specialization. Specialty areas may concern basic research questions in cognitive or social development, and/or issues related to the application of developmental psychology to various settings. These goals are met through course work, research projects, and practicum experiences. Depending upon the individual student’s particular program of study, graduates may be employed in academic departments, research institutes, governmental agencies, or various service-delivery settings. The program faculty includes both a core developmental faculty group as well as a larger Developmental Pro-gram Network (DPN) that involves faculty affiliated with other areas of the Psychology Department who are interested in developmental phenomena. DPN faculty are involved in Develop-mental Proseminar, research supervision, and the developmental graduate curriculum.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

The program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Penn State combines course work, research, and supervised practical experience to prepare students for positions in a variety of industrial, govern-mental, consulting, and academic settings. Students participate in seminar topics such as personnel se-lection, industrial training, and social-industrial psychology. In addition to conducting research for their master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, students participate in practica that provide the opportunity to work on real-world problems in industrial and government organizations. Teams of I/O graduate students, under faculty supervision, plan and conduct research requested by firms and governmental agencies. In addition to providing practicum opportunities, these organizations contribute to the graduate program fi-nancially, helping to support convention travel, thesis and dissertation research, summer employment, etc. Students are encouraged to combine their work in the I/O program with training in other areas of psy-chology and related disciplines, including social psychology, organizational behavior, and statistics and methodology.

Social Psychology

The Social Psychology program at Penn State is designed to train our students to conduct theoretically-grounded, methodologically sound social psychology research that promotes positive social change. Strengths of our program are our focus on advancing research in a socially conscious manner and our promotion of cross-disciplinary collaboration. Our research emphases are (1) stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination and (2) affect and emotion, with research on gender and the self overlapping both of these areas. Students obtain research experience through collaboration with faculty and through the development of their own empirical research. Each student selects a program of study in consultation with an advisory committee of her or his own choosing. Faculty and students in social psychology meet weekly to discuss on-going re-search projects. Graduates are trained to teach and to conduct research in academic and applied settings. Core course work is designed to introduce students to significant topic areas within social psychology, to provide training in a range of research methods and statistical techniques, and to promote acquisition of advanced research and writing skills. Additional courses provide in-depth coverage of specialty areas within social psychology. See https://psych.la.psu.edu/graduate/program-areas/social/ for further information.

Specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

The specialization in cognitive and affective neuroscience is a department-wide effort to integrate the study of brain and behavior by infusing neuroscience throughout the traditional areas of psychology. This approach recognizes the rapidly growing connections between psychology and neuroscience. Stu-dents will be admitted to one of the traditional substantive areas of the psychology department—clinical (child or adult), cognitive, developmental, industrial-organizational, or social psychology—and augment their work in that area with coursework and research using a variety of physiological methods.

Modern approaches to brain-behavior research are interdisciplinary, and the specialization in cognitive and affective neuroscience offers training that reflects this vibrant dynamic. Students taking part in the specialization will have the opportunity to pursue cross-disciplinary work with faculty in other areas of the psychology department and in other departments of the university, including biology, kinesiology, biobehavioral health, and human development. In addition, students can take advantage of university-wide neuroscience activities, both here in University Park and at the College of Medicine in Hershey.

As with the other programs in the department, students will work with one or more faculty advisors to develop an individualized program of study. Faculty and students taking part in the specialization will also participate in a bi-weekly seminar that provides opportunities to discuss ongoing research. Graduates of the program will be prepared to enter research and teaching positions in university or college settings, or to work in applied research organizations.