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Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Although graduate education is offered through separate programs, each student prepares an individualized plan of study in consultation with faculty members. These plans indicate how the student proposes to fulfill the requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, including all general requirements and conditions.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

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Social Psychology

Monica Biernat, Social Psychology Program Director

The social psychology program is an intensive research training experience seeking students who are committed to empirical, scholarly work. The major research interests of faculty members are stereotyping, prejudice, intergroup relations, person perception, close relationships, social competence and aggression, emotion and motivation, culture and psychology, and self and identity.

In addition to course work, the central requirement of the program is continuous involvement in research. Research opportunities range from laboratory experimentation to field research. Depending on backgrounds and goals, students may move from one research setting to another or concentrate on a particular type of research throughout their training.


Students are guided by individually tailored plans called contracts. These describe sequences of learning experiences developed by the student and a 3-member faculty committee. Beginning students are urged to enroll in basic courses in theory and research in social psychology and statistics. The contract specifies students’ long-range goals, specialties, other fields of psychology or related disciplines in which they will become proficient, proposed sequence of course work, research and teaching experiences they hope to obtain, plans for the M.A. proposal, comprehensive requirements and dissertation landmarks, and an approximate timetable. Contract details can be changed by agreement of the student and faculty committee.

The contract is a general framework that permits students’ graduate work to be adapted to their interests and abilities and provides a standard against which progress can be assessed. Students’ contracts must specify how the research skills and responsible scholarship requirement is to be met. The research skills requirement typically is met by completion of 6 graduate courses in statistics and research design. The responsible scholarship requirement currently is being revised; refer to the program website for the latest information. All contracts must comply with other departmental and general rules including residence and time limits.

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Cognitive Psychology

Paul Atchley, Cognitive Psychology Program Director

The cognitive psychology program seeks students with the intellectual potential, motivation, and quantitative aptitude to engage in productive scholarship in a basic or applied area of interest.

Interdisciplinary training is also available in

  • Cognitive neuroscience
  • Developmental science
  • Aging and cognition
  • Child language
  • Quantitative methods

The training program emphasizes the development of a broad-based foundation in theory, research methods, technical skills, and quantitative analysis for application in a variety of basic and applied research settings. Areas of focus of current faculty members include memory, cognitive development, language, perception, attention, aging, and cognition.

Recent graduates have found employment in academic programs, research organizations, and applied research units in industry and government. The rate of employment for graduates is high. General program requirements are listed below. Applicants are encouraged to consult the department’s website for details.

The admission process includes evaluation of submitted materials and may include additional interviews by individual faculty members, as appropriate. The program follows a mentorship model; students are admitted to work with specific faculty members rather than to the program at large. During the application process, applicants are encouraged to contact faculty members with whom they are interested in working.

General Program Requirements

(with recommended completion time)

  • Research activity (continuous)
  • Course requirements (before oral comprehensive examinations)
  • Master’s thesis and oral defense (year 2 or 3)
  • Written preliminary examination (year 3 or 4)
  • Research skills and responsible scholarship requirement (year 3 or 4)
  • Comprehensive oral examination (year 4 or 5)
  • Dissertation and oral defense (year 5 or 6)

Course Requirements

Statistics/Methods Core (12 hours by the end of the third year)

  • PSYC 790 Statistical Methods in Psychology I
  • 1 additional advanced quantitative psychology course
  • PSYC 982 Issues in Scientific Conduct
  • PSYC 983 Methodology

Content Core (9 hours by the end of the second year)

  • PSYC 723 Advanced Cognitive Psychology
  • Plus 2 subsequent classes in spring semester; these have previously included
    PSYC 725 Cognitive Neuroscience
    PSYC 737 Topics in Psycholinguistics
    PSYC 757 Theories of Perception
    PSYC 831 Advanced Human Learning and Memory
  • PSYC 870 Cognitive Development

Breadth/Depth (12 hours before oral comprehensives)

  • Breadth I and II
  • Depth I and II

Breadth/depth courses may come from a number of sources, depending on student interests and adviser suggestions. Students are expected to use this requirement to gain additional specialization in 2 areas in addition to cognitive psychology. Examples include Quantitative (courses in psychology and PRE), Language (courses in linguistics or speech-language-hearing), Neuroscience (courses in psychology, biology, or pharmacology), Philosophy, or Computer Science. These courses also can be used to help meet research skills and responsible scholarship requirements with breadth goals set out by the adviser.

Seminar (continuous enrollment)

  • PSYC 902 Proseminar in Experimental Psychology
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Quantitative Psychology

Todd Little, Quantitative Psychology Program Director

The quantitative psychology program provides a unique doctoral training experience. Graduate students are trained as quantitative specialists who can interface quantitative methods with substantive issues across the behavioral and social sciences. Students develop a substantial background in quantitative methods. Some students pursue more depth in quantitative content areas, and some pursue complementary expertise in a nonquantitative content area (e.g., clinical, cognitive, developmental, health, social). The exact nature of a student’s nonquantitative focus depends on the interests and goals of the student and the faculty mentor. Current methodological interests include psychometric methods, item response theory, structural equation modeling, multivariate statistics, multilevel modeling, nonparametric statistics, and other topics in quantitative methods as applied in the behavioral and social sciences.

Recent graduates are employed in academic programs, basic research units in academic and organizational settings, applied research, and freelance consultation. Nearly all graduates proceed directly to full-time employment. About half the positions are academic, nearly all in upper-tier universities with graduate programs. Quantitative specialists have substantial technical expertise that provides an advantage in the job market. They often earn higher starting salaries and have access to additional income-enhancing activities such as grants and departmental consulting.

The program requires a total of 58 nonthesis hours (15 courses). Requirements are as follows:

Quantitative Training

Quantitative Foundations (8 hours). Quantitative foundations is 1 semester of basic psychological statistics, offered yearly:

  • PSYC 790 Statistical Methods in Psychology I

Area-Specific Methodology (1 course, 3 hours minimum). e.g., PSYC 815, PSYC 816, PSYC 818, PSYC 819

Quantitative Core (7 courses, 27 hours minimum). The quantitative core is a more intense series of courses in fundamental quantitative areas, currently including

Quantitative Concentration (3 courses, 9 hours minimum). The quantitative concentration focuses on a range of specialized applications, currently including

  • PSYC 990 Methods for Clustering and Classification
  • PSYC 991 Longitudinal Data Analysis
  • PSYC 993 Seminar: Advanced Quantitative Topics
  • PSYC 996 Structural Equation Modeling II
  • Advanced courses offered in other departments or schools also may be taken with the director’s consent.

PSYC 881 Proseminar in Quantitative Behavioral and Social Sciences (6 semesters, 1 hour a semester, 6 hours minimum). The quantitative proseminar is an ongoing discussion series covering advanced topics and emerging issues.

Courses will be added to these offerings. In addition, students complete at least 1 semester of a research methodology course. Methodology courses associated with the different substantive foci are available.

Minor Concentration (3 courses, 9 hours minimum, e.g., Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Health Psychology, Social Psychology, Education, Mathematical Statistics). The minor concentration is fulfilled by taking 3 or more courses in a specialized area, education (e.g., testing, evaluation), mathematical statistics, or a tailored curriculum that meets the goals and objectives of the student (e.g., business).

General Requirements

Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship

  • Because the quantitative training track is all about research methods, the research skills requirement is met by completion of the core requirements in statistics and research design. The responsible scholarship requirement currently is being revised; refer to the program website for the latest information.
  • M.A. thesis (1-9 hours plus public defense, typically completed by the end of the second year of training, 3-person committee).
  • Comprehensive written and oral examinations (review paper, dissertation proposal, elaborate project, or written examination plus public defense, typically completed by the end of the third year or early in the fourth year of training, 5-person committee with 1 outside member).
  • Dissertation (1-12 hours plus public defense, 5-person committee with 1 outside member).

Additional Graduate Experiences

Quantitative psychology students have opportunities for experience in teaching, statistical consulting, and data analysis through employment in various settings. Students also are expected to participate and assist with our regular summer training institutes on advanced quantitative techniques. Opportunities may include teaching undergraduate statistics in psychology, research assistantships in quantitative projects, assisting in research at an institute such as the Institute for Life Span Studies, or working in the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis. Students have access to quantitative workshops and brown-bag lunches offered regularly by the quantitative training program. Workshops are conducted by national leaders in quantitative methods. Special resources for attending national workshops and conventions are also available.

Quantitative Minor

A minor in quantitative psychology is offered for graduate students in any of the department’s major programs and for select programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (e.g., sociology). The quantitative minor is an addition to the regular program and does not replace any existing or future requirements of the student’s major program. Students desiring a major emphasis in quantitative psychology should apply directly to the quantitative psychology program.

The minor consists of advanced course work in statistics, measurement, and methodology. The quantitative minor provides the student with elevated levels of quantitative expertise to enhance the overall quality of the research program. It gives students a competitive edge in the job market. Many faculty positions now request expertise in both a specific content area and in quantitative methods. Advanced quantitative skills also offer students additional job opportunities. The quantitative minor provides the additional credentials needed to pursue these jobs.

The minor requires 5 courses in quantitative methodology beyond the basic foundations course requirement (PSYC 790). The classes normally are taken in the department but can come from other departments with approval. Currently available courses include Categorical Methods, Nonparametric Statistics, Multivariate Methods, Multilevel Modeling I, Structural Equation Modeling I and II, Test Theory, Factor Analysis, and regularly offered Advanced Topics in Quantitative Psychology seminars with varying topics.

For more information, contact Todd D. Little,

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Developmental Psychology

Andrea Greenhoot and Patricia Hawley, Developmental Psychology Program Co-Directors

Training in developmental psychology is interdisciplinary and collaborative. The developmental emphasis profits significantly from affiliated faculty in other academic units such as Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, the School of Education, and doctoral programs in Clinical Child Psychology, Child Language, Gerontology, and Neurosciences. The developmental emphasis is substantively linked to the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, and the Center for Biobehavioral Neurosciences in Communication Disorders. Many of the developmental psychology faculty have affiliations with more than one entity on campus. This breadth offers students multidisciplinary exposure and experiences that train them to conduct cutting-edge research on developmental phenomena across the life span. The program includes a number of concentrations, including cognitive, social, evolutionary, language, and quantitative. Students work with a faculty mentor to customize a concentration that suits the needs of the student and the expertise of the available faculty. The program is appropriate for students who wish to be trained in the traditional divisions of psychology (e.g., cognitive-developmental, social-developmental, quantitative-developmental) as well as those whose interests may not fall squarely within traditional divisions.


The curriculum involves 35 hours of formal developmental courses in addition to master’s, research skills and responsible scholarship, and dissertation research hours. Students are expected to enroll in a biweekly Proseminar on Developmental Science (6 semesters minimum). The program allows students to pursue their developmental research interests and accumulate academic credentials that give access to the job market of their choice. Formal course requirements are as follows:

Statistics, Design, and Professional Issues (13 hours, minimum)

  • PSYC 790 Statistical Methods in Psychology I (4 hours)
  • 1 additional advanced quantitative psychology course
  • PSYC 815 Design and Analysis for Developmental Research
  • PSYC 982 Issues in Scientific Conduct

Core Developmental Courses (12 hours)

  • PSYC 691 The Psychology of Aging
  • PSYC 870 Cognitive Development
  • PSYC 825 Social Development
  • PSYC 923 History and Systems of Developmental Psychology: Developmental Theory

Concentration (9 hours, minimum)

The concentration builds expertise in an area chosen by the student in conjunction with the faculty adviser. Courses offered outside the department may count toward the concentration. The concentration can be either very focused or a uniquely tailored hybrid of courses. Some examples of concentrations that students may create are listed below. Many related courses may be substituted for the same general theme of the concentration and students can create a concentration that fits with their interests and educational objectives. Possible concentrations include

General Cognitive Development

  • PSYC 723 Advanced Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 800 Experimental Psychology: Cognition and Aging
  • PSYC 872 Attention, Perception, and Learning in Infancy

Social-Personality Development

  • PSYC 777 Social Psychology: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications
  • Theories of Personality
  • PSYC 962 Advanced Personality

Quantitative Developmental Methods

Note: Such a concentration also lends itself to completing a graduate minor in quantitative psychology and satisfying the FLORS requirements.

Developmental Evolutionary Psychology

  • PSYC 993 Seminar: Developmental Evolutionary Psychology
  • BIOL 625 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • BIOL 668 Evolutionary Ecology

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

  • PSYC 725 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYC 800 Experimental Psychology: Neuroscience Methods
  • PSYC 800 Experimental Psychology: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Language Development

Developmental Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship (8 hours, minimum)

The RSRS requirement generally is satisfied by taking 2 additional quantitative courses and PSYC 982 Issues in Scientific Conduct. Satisfying the RSRS requirement in this way also lends itself to the completion of a graduate minor in quantitative psychology (6 quantitative courses total are required for the minor).

For more information, contact Andrea Greenhoot,, or Patricia Hawley,

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Clinical Psychology

The clinical psychology program educates students about content issues that define a minimum knowledge base and processes of learning and problem-solving. All students take basic course work and practica in academic/research and clinical application. Students may take electives or practica to augment either aspect of training. About half the graduates pursue academic/research-oriented careers, and the rest undertake careers emphasizing applied activities (e.g., psychotherapy in community mental health centers or hospitals). Information is available from the graduate admission secretary or online.

Health and Rehabilitation Specialty

Work centers on the psychosocial and biomedical aspects of physical health, illness, and disability. Students apply the knowledge and techniques to problems of prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation. A detailed overview is available from the graduate admission secretary or online.


Individual plans of study are designed to meet the standards established by state licensing boards and professional organizations. Individualization is achieved by selecting among alternate ways of meeting specific requirements and by selected electives or choosing the health and rehabilitation emphasis. The plan of study constitutes an agreement between the student and the entire clinical faculty. Program requirements:

General Core Requirements for Clinical Psychology (13-17 credit hours)

Quantitative Analysis of Behavior

Cognitive Bases of Behavior. 1 course from the following:

  • PSYC 723 Advanced Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 725 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYC 800 Experimental Psychology: Cognition and Memory
  • PSYC 800 Experimental Psychology: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYC 800 Experimental Psychology: Memory, Emotion, and Development
  • PSYC 831 Advanced Human Learning and Memory
  • PSYC 863 Clinical Neuropsychology Across the Life Span
  • PSYC 870 Cognitive Development
  • PRE 807 Theories and Research in Human Learning

Social Bases of Behavior. 1 course from the following:

  • PSYC 774 Advanced Social Psychology I
  • PSYC 775 Advanced Social Psychology II (Current Issues)
  • PSYC 777 Social Psychology: Theory Research, and Clinical Applications
  • PSYC 825 Social Development
  • PSYC 956 Social Neuroscience (Theory and Applications)

Developmental Bases of Behavior. 1 course from the following:

  • PSYC 825 Social Development
  • PSYC 863 Clinical Neuropsychology Across the Life Span
  • PSYC 870 Cognitive Development
  • PRE 705 Human Development Through the Life Span

Clinical Requirements (46 hours)

9 content courses (25 hours):

  • PSYC 805 History of Psychology or
    PRE 998 Seminar in: History of Psychology or
    ABSC 921 The History and Systems of Psychology
  • PSYC 888 Diversity Issues in Clinical Psychology or
    PRE 875 Cross Cultural Counseling
  • PSYC 898 Proseminar: Professional Issues in Clinical and Health Psychology
  • PSYC 946 Theories and Methods of Psychotherapy
  • PSYC 950 Supervision and Consultation: Theory and Research
  • PSYC 960 Advanced Psychopathology
  • PSYC 961 Biological Foundations of Psychopathology
  • PSYC 968 Research Methods in Clinical Psychology
  • PSYC 975 Professional and Ethical Problems in Clinical Psychology or
    PRE 900 Legal, Ethical, and Professional Issues in Professional Psychology

Note: Because this is an American Psychological Association-approved clinical program, the faculty expect all students to operate within the APA Code of Ethics in professional and personal behavior. Adherence to the ethical principles is part of the normal evaluation of students during the degree program.

7 Courses Covering Practicum Course Work (21 hours)

  • PSYC 850 Assessment I: Foundations of Psychological Assessment
  • PSYC 855 Assessment II: Integrative Psychological Assessment
  • PSYC 964 Clinical Practicum I
  • PSYC 965 Clinical Practicum II
  • PSYC 966 Clinical Practicum III
  • PSYC 969 Clinical Practicum IV or
    PSYC 835 Clinical Practicum IV: Health
  • PSYC 970 Clinical Practicum V or
    PSYC 836 Clinical Practicum V: Health

Research Skills Proficiency

This requirement normally is met by completing all of the following with a grade of B or higher in each. Because these courses are required elsewhere in the curriculum, they do not represent additional required hours.

  • PSYC 968 Research Methods in Clinical Psychology
  • PSYC 790 Statistical Methods in Psychology I
  • One of the following:
    PSYC 791 Statistical Methods in Psychology II
    Computer Analysis of Psychological Data
    PRE 811 Statistical Methods II (Analysis of Variance)
    PSYC 879 Applied Nonparametric Statistical Methods
    PSYC 887 Factor Analysis
    PSYC 892 Test Theory
    PSYC 893 Multivariate Analysis
    PSYC 894 Multilevel Modeling
    PSYC 895 Categorical Data Analysis
    PSYC 896 Structural Equation Modeling I

Responsible Scholarship Requirement

This is a new requirement. Satisfying this requirement will not necessitate additional credit-hour enrollments. Refer to the program website for the latest information.

  • PSYC 968-Research Methods in Clinical Psychology (minimum of 3 hours on responsible research scholarship)
  • PSYC 975-Professional & Ethical Problems in Psychology (minimum of 6 hours on research and academic ethics)

Students must also complete:

  1. Online tutorial for Responsible Scholarship from Research & Graduate Studies
  2. Online tutorial for IRB (institutional Review Board)
  3. Online tutorial for HIPAA data (completed annually)

Thesis and Dissertation (18 hours)

The student must complete a master’s thesis based on an empirical study (minimum of 6 hours) and an empirical doctoral dissertation (minimum of 12 hours) and defend each in separate oral examinations. The thesis should be completed by the end of the second year and written in a form suitable for journal submission.

Electives/Independent Study (6 credit hours, minimum)

Because a minimum of 86 hours of graduate credit is required for the degree, the hours not included in the requirements above may be elective courses selected by the student and his or her adviser.

Examinations: Task

Each student must propose and demonstrate competence in one task or project. This task typically is done in the third year. It may be in applied/clinical, research/methodology, or program evaluation. A complete description is available from the clinic office or online.

Upon completion of all degree requirements except the dissertation and internship, the student must pass the oral comprehensive examination. This examination addresses a proposal for the dissertation as well as related, general questions in the field. It should be taken before completion of 4 calendar years for students entering with the B.A. and 3 years for students entering with the M.A. The faculty believes that the student is best served by completing the entire dissertation before the internship.

Internship (3 hours)

Students must complete a 12-month predoctoral internship at a setting approved by the clinical psychology faculty. Clinical students may complete their internships at any setting approved by the American Psychology Association.

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