About the Program

Duration of the Program


Our graduate program is a 5-year doctoral program with guaranteed funding for 5 years. Students typically complete the program in 5 or 6 years.


Areas of Specialization

We are a STEM designated program.

The areas offered to students to specialize in are the following:

Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience

  • Clinical Science
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental
  • Social-Personality


The department does not offer a terminal Master's degree, programs in criminal or forensic psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology (refer to UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education), a Psy.D. degree, or any joint or concurrent degree programs.  Information about programs in these areas is available at: American Psychological Association and American Psychological Association Divisions.


Department Evaluation Policies

  • Department-Wide Processes

    All committee members should disclose their relationships with candidates who are being reviewed. Where there is a conflict of interest (e.g., family members), committee members will be recused from consideration of that candidate.

    This document will be shared with all admissions committee members before review begins each year. We highly recommend that each committee consider current information about diversity in graduate school admissions and biases that may influence graduate school applications, such as the slides provided here.

    From Vero et al. (in press), DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/w5d7r
    We strongly recommend that all graduate programs incorporate more standardization, objectivity, and transparency in their admission processes. Standardization is a critical step toward addressing the validity and bias concerns that we outlined above. We suggest the following protocol for graduate programs seeking to immediately address potential concerns over predictive validity and bias (more details are included in Appendix C):

    • Decide on predictor constructs of interest
    • Link the predictor constructs to the existing assessment methods in an explicit, quantitative, and standardized manner (e.g., create a ‘grading rubric’ for all measures and conduct a frame-of-reference training
    • Decide how all information gathered from the entire admission process will be systematically recorded, assessed, and integrated into a final decision
    • Integrate constructs of interest into graduate student development and evaluation
    • Use such evaluations as well as other criteria identified to evaluate the selection system over time (AERA et al., 2014; Binning & Barrett, 1989; SIOP, 2018)

    Any admissions committee members who want further support or advice about this process are welcome to reach out to the Head Graduate Advisor, the Chair, the department's Equity Advisor, or members of the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion committee. The department's Equity Advisor will check with area heads before admissions to see if any area would like further support or training.

  • Admission Committee Review

    Each program creates an admissions committee.  These committees usually consist of faculty and advanced graduate students.  Students who work with a recruiting faculty member may also be involved.

    Committees review the applications and select a short list of potential candidates. These decisions are based on criteria such as these:

    • Past research experience
    • Candidate skills (e.g. programming, web development, modeling, experience working with children for developmental candidates, previous experience working with animals for BSN candidates, previous clinical experience for CS candidates, etc.)
    • Fit with research mentor
    • Contributions to diversity
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Research and personal statements
    • Transcript reviews

    Candidates are invited to interview with members of the admissions committee. Sometimes, interviews may be organized to meet collaborators of the potential mentor as well. The area faculty meets to decide on admission, waitlist applicants, and fellowship nominations.

    These decisions are based on:

    • Faculty mentor fit and endorsement following the interviews
    • Contributions to diversity
    • Other faculty, staff and student input following the interviews
    • Interest by faculty in mentorship
    • Funding availability within labs



A comprehensive explanation of program requirements and departmental policies are in our Graduate Student Handbook.


  • Accreditations

    Our Clinical Science program is accredited by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS). This is not applicable to the other five research areas of our program.

  • Credit Transfer 

    University policy prohibits students entering PhD Programs to transfer credit. All students will begin at Year one of our program regardless of having a Master's or a Bachelor's degree in psychology or other field.

  • Degree Completion

    There is not a unit requirement for degree completion.
    Progress in the program is measured by milestones: qualifying examination, advancement to candidacy, dissertation proposal meeting, filing of the dissertation, and graduation.

    The standard timeline for completion is as follows:

    • Qualifying Examination by end of 6th semester 
    • Advancement to candidacy by end of 7th semester 
    • Dissertation proposal meeting by end of 8th semester 
    • Filing of the dissertation and graduation by end of 10th semester 
  • Student Research with Faculty 

    Students are allowed to conduct research with professors in different areas of the department. Many students work with professors from more than one area within the department. Our students also collaborate with professors of other departments/schools/institutes, including: 

    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Integrative Biology
    • Law
    • Linguistics 
    • Music 
    • Neuroscience 
    • Optometry 
    • Public Health 
    • Public Policy
    • Social Welfare 
    • Sociology
    • Vision Science