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

Coursework Requirements
The departmental course requirements for the Ph.D. consists of three different segments: content courses including seminars, methodology courses, and workshops. The purpose of the content courses are to give students a broad base in psychology and to allow them to become acquainted with faculty and students from area groups other than their own. Seminars allow for depth in areas of special interest to the student. The methodology courses are intended to provide the skills necessary for designing and analyzing research projects. Finally, the workshops provide training in the responsible conduct of research and professional development.

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.

Minor Requirement
The Graduate School no longer requires a minor concentration for cohorts beginning Fall 2013. For students beginning before 2013, you can chose the previous minor consisting of 9 credits taken outside the major area of concentration. Students have two options available in order to fulfill the minor requirement. One option is to minor in an outside department and enroll in 9 credits in only that department. The other option is to choose a distributed minor, which can include credits from within the psychology department, as long as they are not within your area group, as well as credits from any department outside of psychology.

Breadth Requirement
For students beginning 2013 or later, the new 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. Content courses outside of your area that are used to fulfill the content course requirement may be used to fulfill the breadth requirement.

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 Oral Exam
Each Doctoral student completes a dissertation covering original research. The student will be examined by a committee of five faculty members at the University of Wisconsin, at least three from Psychology and at least one from another department.