Degree requirements

For information about the graduate degree programs offered in each of the six research areas in the Department of Psychology, see Programs.


  • Because core courses are considered to be the foundational courses for the specific Area, students must take them for a numerical grade. The only exception are the core practicum courses, which are taken on a credit/no-credit grading basis. All statistics courses required by the Research Area must also be taken for a numerical grade. (Any additional statistics courses, beyond the required ones, may be taken as breadth courses for credit.)
  • At least half of the courses taken to complete the PhD (including breadth, statistics, and core courses) must be taken for a grade rather than for credit/no-credit.
  • A course cannot be considered both breadth and core for a particular Area (except in unusual circumstances, such as not enough core courses are offered by an Area). Any additions or other alterations to the list of an Area’s core courses must be approved by the Area Head and the Graduate Associate Chair, and it must be clear how any newly proposed core course relates to the mandate of the specific Area. Subsequently, such alterations to courses designated as core for an Area must be vetted by the Graduate Affairs Group (GAG) and then added to the Area degree requirements.
  • PhD students are strongly urged to fit their studies within one of the six designated Research Areas if at all possible. However, occasionally a student who has completed an MA program may find that his or her PhD research interests extend beyond the existing Areas, or overlap between two or more of them. In such a case, the student may choose to apply to Special Programs. This option requires that the Psychology faculty member willing to supervise the student’s planned PhD thesis will work with the student to devise a set of core courses that will represent the areas of expertise broadly relevant to the thesis research as well as the courses proposed to satisfy the departmental breadth and statistics requirements. A written proposal specifying both this plan of study and the proposed thesis topic, signed by the student and proposed supervisor, must be submitted to and approved by the Graduate Associate Chair.