Graduate work within the Department of Psychology emphasizes preparation for research and teaching in psychology, with specialization in the following broad areas: cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, language, learning and memory, perception and cognition, the psychology of inequality, social neuroscience, social psychology, and systems neuroscience. The program is designed to prepare students for attaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and a career of productive scholarship in psychology.
First-year students work closely with a faculty adviser to plan and conduct research, as well as begin their coursework. Second-year students take advanced seminars and conduct research to prepare a written report of a research project and prepare for the general exam. Students may also take relevant courses in other departments. The third year is devoted to conducting research and to continuing study in the student’s area of specialization by means of courses, independent reading and advanced seminars. During the fourth and fifth years, students are expected to dedicate their time to mastering methods and techniques in the relevant area of study, complete dissertation-related research, and write the thesis. Students are expected to write up and submit for publication their research on an on-going basis throughout their graduate career.
The final public oral examination for the doctoral degree is based on the problem, methods and results of the dissertation and the relation of its findings to major trends and current problems in psychological research.
Applicants are required to select a subplan when applying.
Optional: Applicants may submit a statement with their application, briefly describing how their academic interests, background, or life experiences would advance Princeton’s commitment to diversity within the Graduate School and to training individuals in an increasingly diverse society. Please submit a succinct statement of no more than 500 words.
Students are required to take the proseminar, PSY 500/501, which covers several basic areas of psychology, in the first year. First-year students should consult their advisers about enrolling in seminars in addition to Psychology 500/501. By the end of the second year, students should have demonstrated basic competence in quantitative methods by having successfully completed PSY 503 - Quantitative Analysis in Psychological Research. Each student must complete a six-week course in the responsible conduct of scientific research, entitled PSY 591a - Ethical Issues in Scientific Research. This course is normally taken during the second year. In subsequent semesters, it is expected that students will enroll in seminars in the psychology department and/or other departments at Princeton.
All social area students are required to take PSY 551 - Design & Interpretation of Social Psychological Research each semester. All cognitive area students are required to take PSY 543 - Research Seminar in Cognitive Psychology each semester. If a first-year student plans to receive a joint degree with neuroscience, the neuroscience seminar (NEU 511/PSY 511 - Current Issues in Neuroscience and Behavior) should be taken each year.
Colloquia and Seminars
Psychology colloquia are held at regular intervals throughout the year and are attended by faculty, research staff, and graduate students. A series of research seminars is also held throughout the year. At these seminars students in various research areas interchange ideas with one another and with the faculty.
Pre-generals Research Project
Students are required to work with a faculty member on a research project related to their area of interest. Students must prepare a written report on their pre-generals research project prior to the general examination.
Students can take the general examination beginning in the fourth term of enrollment. All students are expected to have successfully completed the general examination by the end of the sixth term of enrollment. No student will be admitted to a fourth year (seventh term of enrollment) without completing the general examination. All components of the examination must be passed before a graduate student can advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
A decision as to whether the student has passed the general examination is made by the full faculty acting on the recommendation of the examining committee. The basic criterion for passing the examination is the faculty's conviction that the student is prepared to begin work on the doctoral dissertation.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after successfully passing all parts of the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that the following requirements are met: passing the proseminar, passing coursework in graduate statistics and ethics, successfully completing the pre-generals research project, and passing the general examination.
Every Ph.D. candidate in psychology is required to teach at least nine class hours during their graduate career. Nine semester hours of teaching, then, is the minimum required for the degree, although most students teach more than nine hours over their graduate careers. In any case, students will be appointed as assistants in instruction and paid for any hours that they teach.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
Kenneth A. Norman
Director of Graduate Studies
Jonathan D. Cohen
Nathaniel D. Daw
Susan T. Fiske
Asif A. Ghazanfar
Adele E. Goldberg
Michael S. Graziano
Kenneth A. Norman
Elizabeth L. Paluck
Jonathan W. Pillow
J. Nichole Shelton
Stacey A. Sinclair
Susan L. Sugarman
Alexander T. Todorov
Elke U. Weber
Alin I. Coman
Jordan A. Taylor
Ilana B. Witten
Timothy J. Buschman
Johannes A. Haushofer
Diana I. Tamir
Justin A. Jungé
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.