Learning Outcomes

Psychology as a scientific discipline aims to describe, understand, and predict the behavior of living organisms. In doing so, psychology embraces the many factors that influence behavior - from sensory experience to complex cognition, from the role of genetics to that of social and cultural environments, from the processes that explain behavior in early childhood to those that operate in older ages, and from typical development to pathological conditions.


The Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley reflects the diversity of our discipline's mission covering six key areas of research: Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience; Cognition; Cognitive Neuroscience; Clinical Science; Developmental; and Social-Personality Psychology. Our program learning goals focus on honing methodological, statistical and critical thinking skills relevant to all areas of Psychology research; enabling students with sufficient breadth to retain perspective in the field of psychology and sufficient depth to permit successful independent and significant research.

The major academic objectives of the Ph.D. program are for students to:

  • Develop an understanding of the different theoretical and empirical frameworks that have defined and shaped the field
  • Develop an understanding of the central questions and issues in contemporary psychology
  • Develop expertise in one or more relevant research methodologies
  • Build expertise in formulating testable hypotheses and designing appropriate studies
  • Hone ability to critically evaluate scientific research
  • Develop expertise in statistics and advanced data analytic approaches
  • Develop an awareness of the importance of science to humanity while recognizing its limits (i.e., some scientific knowledge is culture specific and may not applicable to the human condition universally)
  • Develop competence as a teacher of undergraduates and mentor to graduate students.