Psychological Science Ph.D. Program

Program Overview

The department offers a Ph.D. in Psychological Science, with students specializing in one of 5 areas. Students are trained with a strong foundation in theory, research methods and advanced statistics, as well as in classic and contemporary issues relevant to their specific area.

Students collaborate with faculty on research from the very beginning of their graduate training and are encouraged to gain research experience with more than one faculty member. As student’s interests and skills develop, they pursue more independent research projects.

With 36 full-time faculty to serve as mentors for approximately 80 graduate students, our students enjoy the benefits of a program with an excellent faculty-to-student ratio and with a strong sense of community. Since students work closely with faculty throughout their graduate careers, they regularly have opportunities to co-author conference presentations, journal articles, and book chapters.

Ph.D. students select a primary (major) specialization in one of the following five core areas:


‚ÄčFor an overview of the curriculum please visit our program information in the UCI catalogue. Please see below for application requirements and instructions for non-clinical areas.

Program Learning Outcomes

Develop Knowledge of the Discipline

  • Answer questions concerning history, principles, and theories in the student’s area of specialization (Social/Personality, Health, Development, or Affective Science).
  • Discuss central concepts, principles, and ideas in their major area from a broad, historical perspective, including major theoretical constructs, and important emerging themes.
  • Master current research within their own area of interest (social/personality psychology, health psychology, developmental psychology, or affective science).  

Research Methods and Statistics

  • Master analytical and statistical techniques in psychological research.
  • Identify appropriate methods and statistics to address different types of research questions.
  • Ability to design studies in their research area.


  • Communicate effectively to large and small groups in pedagogical settings in both lecture and discussion formats.
  • Identify and effectively deploy suitable digital media for use in all aspects of instruction.
  • Assess students effectively, including developing and using appropriate measures.

Scholarly Communication

  • Structure a coherent academic argument that rigorously presents and evaluates evidence to support claims.
  • Review and cogently synthesize relevant literature.
  • Write in a level and style of English consistent with that found in leading academic journals.
  • Understand and properly use styles of citing, referencing, and formatting found in psychological research outlets.
  • Make clear and cogent oral presentations, including effective use of digital media.
  • Cogently summarize their research and its significance for non-specialist audiences.


  • Select appropriate conference venues for their research.
  • Prepare a presentation suitable for a research conference.
  • Prepare manuscripts that meet the standards of psychological research journals and respond appropriately to recommendations for revision.
  • Select appropriate fellowship or grant opportunities and prepare competitive proposals.
  • Make effective contributions to research teams and lab groups.

Independent Research

  • Develop their own research projects that meet high standards of theoretical and methodological rigor.
  • Produce scholarship that is comparable in scope and format to articles and books that appear in leading peer-reviewed journals and presses in the field of psychology.
  • Supervise research assistants effectively.

Application Requirements for the Ph.D. in Psychological Science

Application requirements and deadline for the Clinical area can be found here. The application deadline for the clinical area is December 1st.

Applications for all other areas (Developmental, Health, Social/Personality) are due December 1st.  Psychological Science applicants will complete an online application via SLATE. 

PLEASE NOTE - UCI has multiple psychology programs, be sure to select the correct program to avoid a delay in processing your application.
If you are interested in Cognitive Neuroscience, please visit the School of Social Sciences.

Statement of Purpose (essay format, 1200 words maximum)

In your statement of purpose, please describe your aptitude and motivation for graduate study in your area of specialization. We expect applicants to include:

  • A description of your background, research experience, current and future research interests, future goals, and how you see yourself fitting in our department.
  • The area of interest you plan to pursue (Developmental, Health or Social/Personality) and if you wish to pair an area of interest with a specialty in Psychology & Law.
  • Name(s) of the faculty member(s) with whom you are interested in working and why.

Personal History Statement (essay format, 1200 words maximum)

In your personal history statement, please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. A sample of topics you might address in your statement is below: 
  • Any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences or opportunities relevant to your academic journey
  • Challenges and/or obligations you have had to address in order to achieve your educational goals and how you addressed them
  • Prior employment, as a student or as a working professional, that is relevant to your pursuit of a graduate degree
  • Discuss any leadership roles or plans, outreach, or community service experiences and goals that have or will benefit others or the community
  • How your perspectives, activities, or goals have or may contribute to inclusivity and/or broaden your understanding of the experiences of diverse groups of people

We expect applicants to include the following in the context of the above:

  • Any experience(s) you have in advocating for diversity in organizations or communities of which you have been a member (3-5 sentences).
  • Any significant challenge(s) you have faced and your ability to demonstrate resilience and achievement despite the challenges (3-7 sentences).
  • Your interest in an academic career in teaching/research and/or other professional goals and interests you may have (3-5 sentences).

GRE Scores

  • GRE scores for the upcoming admissions cycle are optional. We do not require applicants to our graduate program to submit a GRE score report as part of their application. Applicants may choose to submit GRE test scores, and they will be reviewed as one part of the application evaluation. Applications with GRE scores will not be given greater consideration than those without scores. For applicants who wish to include their scores to supplement their application, please note that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) code for UCI is: 4859. Please visit the Graduate Division Website for more information.


  • Unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended after high school. Applicants must upload unofficial transcripts directly into the online application.

Application Fee

  • Submit your non-refundable application fee ($135 for U.S. Citizens and lawful U.S. Permanent Residents, and $155 for all other applicants). The application fee can be paid by credit card only; checks will not be accepted.
    • Fee waivers are available to qualified domestic applicants only. Eligibility to apply for a fee waiver is determined by program participation, US veteran status, or demonstrated financial need based on information requirements specified on the application.

Letters of Recommendation

  • Three letters of recommendation. Paper letters will not be accepted. They must be uploaded digitally. These letters should speak to your academic and/or professional achievement, describe your strengths and weaknesses, and comment on your character, integrity and motivation are especially useful. Additional information regarding letters of recommendation can be found here.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

  • International students must meet English language proficiency requirements for admission and may also need to meet proficiency requirements in order to serve as a Teaching Assistant (most students serve as a TA). Submitting a TOEFL or IELTS score is highly encouraged at the time of application. 
    • All graduate applicants, except those who have earned an undergraduate or master's degree from an institution at which English was the sole language of instruction according to the World Higher Education Database, are required to demonstrate English proficiency for admissions consideration. If English is not the sole language of instruction listed or if no language is listed at all, the waiver does not apply and the applicant is required to take and pass an approved English proficiency test (TOEFL or IELTS).
    • English proficiency for Teaching Assistantship - All international students, including those with Permanent Resident status, who wish to serve as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate must pass an oral English proficiency exam approved by UCI. Exemptions to this exam are ONLY given to students who meet specific criteria listed on the Graduate Division website for English Proficiency for Teaching Assistantships. For more detailed information on these exams of spoken English proficiency, including the respective passing scores, please review the English Proficiency Summary Chart.

Program Duration

The normative time-to-degree is six years. 

Financial Support

We offer guaranteed support for the first five years of the program, which includes tuition, most fees, and a stipend. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including teaching assistantshipsgraduate student research assistantships, and fellowships

Information Sessions

Online information sessions will be hosted by UCI Social Ecology representatives and are designed for prospective students to learn more about the Psychological Science Ph.D. programs, application requirements, tuition & funding. Archived information sessions and application workshop registration can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you would like additional information, please review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or contact us here.

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