Thanks for your interest in graduate studies in the Department of Psychology at Penn State University. I hope that our web-based materials will answer most of your questions about graduate training in the department program and about the application process.
Prospective students apply to one of our five program areas: Clinical (Adult or Child clinical), Cognitive, Developmental, Industrial/Organizational, and Social. Although each of these programs has a different substantive focus, all are characterized by flexibility and the opportunity to individualize the course of study. With a faculty adviser, each student organizes his or her work in such a way as to reflect the student’s interests and career aspirations, while ensuring the breadth and depth of training that we expect. The department also offers students in any program area a behavioral neuroscience specialization and the option of a dual degree with Women’s Studies. Students can also choose a minor area focus. The minor may be selected within the department from one of the other program areas (e.g., a student in clinical might take a minor in social), or the minor may involve work outside the department (e.g., in statistics, sociology, biology, management, or a wide array of other areas). Although the minor is optional for most students, all students are required to demonstrate breadth in their coursework by taking some courses outside their major area.
We admit students only for full-time work toward the PhD. We do not have a separate master’s degree program. Instead, a master’s thesis or its equivalent is required as a step toward the PhD. Most of our students are supported by teaching assistantships, research assistantships, clinical assistantships, and related positions. No separate application is needed to be considered for funding. We also urge applicants to apply for outside support through competition for national fellowships or traineeships.
The primary qualification for admission is the student’s superior ability to engage in advanced graduate study and conduct research in psychology. We judge this ability on the basis of your academic record, test scores, research experience, and letters of reference. We anticipate that, in most cases, offers of admission and financial aid will be made by the middle of March, although some offers will be extended after that date.
Again, thank you for your interest. The application deadline is DECEMBER 1 for all program areas: Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, Industrial/Organizational, and Social Psychology. If you need any additional information beyond that on this website before then, please contact Sherri Gilliland at firstname.lastname@example.org. My colleagues and I look forward to seeing your application and, if all goes well, to working with you over the coming years!
Kristin A Buss
Professor and Head
Department of Psychology