Graduate Study

The Department of Psychology offers programs leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with areas of specialization in Cognitive, Developmental, and Social/Personality Psychology, and in Systems Neuroscience. There is also cross-cutting and interdisciplinary study in Quantitative Psychology and in Health Psychology. If students are interested in two of these areas or in a question that overlaps areas, they may fashion individual programs that combine elements from the areas involved. There is no concentration in Clinical Psychology, but many graduate students study applied topics such as the promotion of the mental and physical health of children, adolescents, and the aging.

The program of study requires approximately four or five years to complete. Typically, graduate students receive financial support for up to five years. During the first two years, students develop skill in statistical and research methods; they take course work to ensure a broad understanding of the field of psychology; they acquire the foundation of knowledge in their particular area of specialization; and they begin a program of research. Although there is no separate master's degree program, the majority of the graduate students in psychology will receive the master's degree after completing the first two years of course work and taking an oral examination. During the third year of study, students prepare for the doctoral qualifying examination and continue their research. Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, students are advanced to candidacy. The remainder of a student's graduate career is spent conducting research for, and writing, the doctoral dissertation.

All students become involved in research during their first quarter on campus. Initially, they participate in an ongoing laboratory or field project. As the knowledge and methodological skills for independent research are acquired, students are encouraged to develop and pursue their own research questions. The doctoral dissertation is typically an extension of the student's own research program. One of the strengths of the doctoral program at UCR is the very close working relationship that exists between students and faculty. Research teams composed of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students often pursue related research questions.

Because many of our students are interested in teaching as a professor at the college level, each student in the doctoral program gains teaching experience by working as a teaching assistant for at least three quarters. Teaching assistants work with a faculty course instructor in an undergraduate class by assisting in examination preparation, reading papers, and conducting discussion and laboratory sections.

Graduate study in psychology at UC Riverside is ideal for students excited about developing the ability to do research on psychological questions. This includes learning to analyze unsolved problems, to decide which problems are worth pursuing, and finally, to solve a problem that has never before been solved. Another important part of graduate study entails course work to acquire more specialized and advanced knowledge than is possible in a bachelor's degree program.

There are a number of factors that you should keep in mind as you choose the university where you will carry out your graduate study and research.

  1. What is the quality and breadth of the research being done? This is the most important consideration.
  2. How much interaction is there between the research advisor and graduate student, and how much do different research groups within the department interact?
  3. To what extent are graduate students financially supported?
  4. Are the research, computer, and library facilities up-to-date and available to students?

The purpose of this site is to answer these questions with respect to the Psychology Department at UCR. Our department provides an excellent environment for graduate study in psychology in that it combines the facilities, quality, and breadth of research of a large university with the close student-faculty interaction most easily achieved in a closely-knit department.

Feel free to contact faculty members with specific questions (try e-mail first). Their phone numbers and E-mail addresses are in their faculty profiles. If you have any further questions, or if we can help in any way, please write or phone:

Kirsten Alonso, M.S – Graduate Student Advisor
Department of Psychology
University of California
Riverside, California 92521