About The Graduate Program

The Department of Psychology has fostered excellence in research and scholarship for over 100 years. The department provides graduate students with the best available training to prepare them for a variety of professional careers in academic, clinical, research, and other settings. Emphasis is on both extensive academic training in general psychology and intensive research training in the student’s area of concentration. The department expects students to become creative scientists and to exhibit an early and continuing commitment to research and scholarship. All students initiate a first-year research project and present the results to the entire department in the fall of the second year. Many students have several significant publications before receiving the Ph.D. degree. To support professional development, small grants fund student research and travel to present work at national conferences. The department hosts two training grants from NIH, one focused on Emotion and one focused on Language, that each support several predoctoral students. Consideration for admission to our department is highly competitive. We receive approximately 425 applications each year and admit, on average, 25 to our program. http://www.grad.wisc.edu/education/academicprograms/profiles/832.pdf provides information about students admitted into our graduate program in four different years.

Degree Requirements

Minimum Departmental Course Requirement

  • Students are required to take two semesters of statistics/methods (610 and 710) and six additional courses. Two of the six additional courses should be outside the student’s area of research expertise.
  • Average grade of B or better and no grade lower than a BC in six courses.
  • Psychology 610 and 710 are required and students must earn a grade of B or better in each course.
  • Graduate level courses are numbered 600 or higher and do not include “Proseminars” or professional development courses.
  • Eight week courses count as half courses. Two half courses are equivalent to one full course.
  • By end of Year 3, all departmental course requirements should be completed.
First Year Project and Symposium Our graduate program is committed to strong training in scientific psychology, and the First Year Project is designed to get you off to a flying start in research. You will gather data, run analyses, write a research report, and present your data to faculty and students at a symposium held in the fall of your second year. This experience gives you an early sense for the demands and satisfaction of psychological research. Most importantly, it provides a sense of accomplishment. It is an opportunity to synthesize newly learned skills, and it becomes a reference point for continued efforts.
Breadth Requirement The breadth requirement will typically be satisfied by at least 2 full courses (8-week courses count as half) outside the student’s area of expertise. 
Preliminary Exam Prior to official admission to candidacy for the Doctoral degree, students complete preliminary examinations in their area of expertise. Three or more faculty members knowledgeable in that area write and evaluate preliminary examinations. By passing the preliminary exams the student demonstrates his or her competence to begin dissertation research.
Dissertation and Defense Each Doctoral student completes a dissertation covering original research. The student will be examined by a committee of four to five faculty members at the University of Wisconsin, at least three from Psychology and at least one from another department.