2022-23 Edition

Psychological Science, Ph.D.

The Department of Psychological Science offers a Ph.D. program in Psychological Science. The main goal of this program is to train behavioral scientists to apply theory and methods in psychology, together with perspectives and knowledge from allied disciplines, to the analysis of human behavior and health across the life span and in diverse sociocultural contexts. This program values both basic and applied research that is relevant to the improvement of individual, community, and societal functioning. Emphasis is placed on the integration of knowledge from several subspecialties in psychology in order to understand the antecedents and developmental course of adaptive or maladaptive behavior and on the conduct of research that has implications for social policies, programs, and interventions.

Program Requirements

All students take seven required core courses:

PSCI P201 Research Methods in Psychology
SOCECOL 264A Data Analysis
SOCECOL 264B Data Analysis
SOCECOL 200 Seminar in Social Ecology
An additional research methods/data analysis course from an approved list
PSCI P209A Applied Psychological Research
PSCI P294A- P294B- P294C Research Directions in Psychological Science I
and Research Directions in Psychological Science II
and Research Directions in Psychological Science III

The course on Applied Research PSCI P209A introduces students to the scientific, professional, and ethical issues involved in conducting and translating psychological research in a variety of applied settings. The three-quarter course Research Directions in Psychological Science (PSCI P294A-PSCI P294B-PSCI P294C) allows students to increase their breadth of knowledge regarding contemporary issues and controversies in psychology by participating in the Department’s weekly colloquium series and interacting with visiting scholars and other speakers.

Students must select one of four core specialization areas in which to further focus their graduate training. Additional course requirements vary across each specialization.

Health Psychology Specialization
PSCI P258 Health Psychology
and three additional courses from approved health electives
Social and Personality Specialization
PSCI P214 Seminar in Social Psychology
and three additional courses from an approved list
Affective Science Specialization
PSCI P226 Emotion in Psychology
or PSCI P250 Emotion, Reasoning, and Memory
and three additional courses from an approved list of Affective Science electives
Developmental Psychology Specialization
PSCI P220 Developmental Psychology: Theories and History
and three additional courses from approved developmental electives

In addition to selecting a core specialization area, students are also required to select a minor specialization and complete one required specialization course and one elective course in this area. The minor specialization and elective courses should be chosen according to the plan that best meets the needs of the individual student, as determined in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and the departmental graduate advisor. In addition to courses offered by the Department of Psychological Science and the School of Social Ecology, students may take courses offered by other departments in other schools such as the Departments of Cognitive Science, Anthropology, and Sociology in the School of Social Sciences and the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the School of Biological Sciences. Approval from instructors is required to enroll in these courses.

Students who are interested can pursue an optional training track in psychology and law. This track is supplemental to the requirements associated with the required specializations and supplemental to the required minor. That is, all students must complete the above-listed requirements for their specialization and minor. Then, if the student decides to complete the training track in psychology and law, this training is in addition to the requirements listed above. For the training track, a total of four courses must be taken, one required (PSCI P266) and three electives. The electives must be approved by the student’s faculty mentor and departmental advisor and can be a course in PS, or in the School of Social Ecology or School of Law, with instructor and school approval.

Advancement to Candidacy and Dissertation

Normative time to advancement for doctoral students in the School of Social Ecology is three to four years. In no case will students be allowed to advance to candidacy after the end of the fifth year of study (adjusted for any approved Leaves of Absence the student may have taken). Psychological Science Ph.D. students are required to advance by the end of their fourth year to remain in good standing with the department.  

A student may formally advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. when all requirements except the dissertation have been completed, and when their Candidacy Committee has approved the student’s dissertation plans. The Candidacy Committee must be approved by the department Chair and the Associate Dean of the School of Social Ecology, acting on behalf of the Dean. The committee must consist of a minimum of five members, majority of whom must hold affiliations with a student’s home department. Additionally, at least one committee member, but not more than two, shall be faculty members from academic units outside of the student’s department.  

Emeritus Professors may serve on students' Candidacy Committees as long as they are current members of the Faculty Senate. The Dean of Graduate Division must approve any exceptions to membership for either the advancement to candidacy or doctoral dissertation committees.

The Doctoral Committee (also referred to informally as the “Dissertation Committee” or the “Thesis Committee”) will supervise following advancement to candidacy, the preparation and completion of the doctoral dissertation. The Doctoral Committee ordinarily consists of three members from the Candidacy Committee, a majority of whom hold affiliations with a student’s home department although more than three of the original members may be retained if the student and their Candidacy Committee Chair consider this desirable and feasible. The exact membership of the Doctoral Committee should be determined in consultation with the Chair of the Candidacy Committee. 

Ph.D. in Psychological Science with a Concentration in Clinical Psychology

Students pursuing a Concentration in Clinical Psychology must meet the core course requirements in addition to specialized coursework and clinical training, which includes clinical practica and a one-year internship. Those in the clinical Concentration are required to take eight core courses, eight major specialization courses (five clinical core courses, three clinical electives), and five breadth courses. The additional major specialization courses and breadth courses in the clinical Concentration are required for APA accreditation. Students in the concentration are not required to choose a minor.


Students in the clinical Concentration are required to take the seven core courses, nine major specialization courses (six clinical core courses, three clinical electives), and five breadth courses.

Clinical Concentration Core Course Requirements
A. Complete:
PSCI P238 Child Psychopathology
PSCI C217 Psychological Assessment
PSCI C201 Clinical Assessment and Interviewing
PSCI C202 Cognitive and Neuropsychological Assessment
PSCI C200 Evidence-Based Treatments
PSCI C204 Practicum in Clinical Psychology
B. Complete the following breadth courses:
PSCI P214 Seminar in Social Psychology
PSCI P250 Emotion, Reasoning, and Memory
PSCI P220 Developmental Psychology: Theories and History
PSCI P273 Biobehavioral Aspects of Health and Illness
PSCI C205 History and Systems
C. Select three electives from a list of approved courses.

Students complete a supervised research project during their second year culminating in a paper that may form the basis for a publication. They take a written comprehensive examination during their third year, which requires them to demonstrate mastery of the principles of social ecology and of major theoretical, substantive, and methodological issues in the study of their major and minor specializations and in the psychology of human behavior. The normative time for advancement to candidacy is four years. The fourth year is devoted to developing and defending a dissertation proposal, and the fifth year is spent completing the dissertation research. The normative time for completion of the Ph.D. is six years, but we encourage students to complete within five years as the university can only provide five years of funding to students. Students must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. in Psychological Science no later than their seventh year of study, adjusted for any approved leaves of absence that may have been taken. It is expected that most students will complete the degree requirements well in advance of this deadline. All Ph.D. students in the Psychological Science program are required to pass a final oral defense of the dissertation.

Potential employment sites for graduates of the program include academic institutions, research organizations, government policy institutes, health care and human services settings (e.g., hospitals, schools, community agencies), and a variety of private sector employers. The Ph.D. Program in Psychological Science specializes in the training of researchers, not in the training of clinical practitioners.

Practicum Placements

An essential part of the Concentration involves training in clinical psychological assessment and treatments, conjoined with supervised clinical work. This supervised clinical work, beginning in spring quarter of the first year of study and continuing through the second year, will be in the outpatient Psychology Clinic; subsequently in years three and four, there will be practicum placements at various hospitals and clinics.


All students are required to complete a one-year American Psychological Association-accredited internship in clinical psychology, typically in a major medical setting or counseling center. Most students will complete the internship after they have advanced to candidacy and have collected and analyzed the data for their dissertations. Ideally, students will complete their dissertation before the internship begins, which is the current practice in other clinical doctoral programs.

Students will learn to understand human behavior from a social ecological, contextual perspective. They will be exposed to the major theories in each specialization and learn various social science research methods. All students are encouraged to become actively involved in research from the earliest stage of their training. Through close association with faculty members and participation in the faculty’s research projects, students learn to conduct methodologically sophisticated research that addresses contemporary psychological and social issues. Current research teams are investigating stress, coping, and social support; biobehavioral mechanisms of cardiovascular reactivity; psychobiology of stress; personality factors that increase resilience to health threats; parent-child relations; work and family; transitions across the life course; adaptive aging; end-of-life medical decision making; culture and adolescent psychosocial development; cultural influences on social judgment; relations between cognitive and emotional development; emotion regulation; memory and eyewitness testimony; violence and anger management; the development of health-risking and health-protecting behaviors during childhood and adolescence; economic stress and psychopathology/behavioral disorders; health impacts of environmental stressors; mental health and psychopathy; juvenile and criminal justice; positive psychology; and person-environment fit.

Program in Law and Graduate Studies (J.D./Ph.D.)

Highly qualified students interested in combining the study of law with graduate research and/or research qualifications in cognate disciplines are invited to undertake concurrent degree study under the auspices of UC Irvine’s Program in Law and Graduate Studies (PLGS). Students approved for this concurrent degree program may pursue a coordinated curriculum leading to a J.D. from the School of Law in conjunction with a Ph.D. in Psychological Science. The objective of the program is to promote interdisciplinary study of law while also enabling students to obtain both a J.D. and a graduate degree in less time than would be required to acquire both degrees separately. The normative time for completion is seven years for the J.D./Ph.D. combination.

Applicants must submit separate applications for admission to the School of Law and to Psychological Science. Once admitted for study into both components of their program, concurrent degree students will work with the PLGS director and the PS graduate advisor to develop a program of study that will permit efficient pursuit of both degrees. Ordinarily, students will commence their studies in PS and begin their first year of law school instruction after one or more years of graduate program training. Upon completion of the first year of law instruction, students will pursue a coordinated curriculum of upper-level law study and PS graduate program courses and research. Concurrent degree students’ law enrollments will include a required 1-unit “Graduate Legal Studies” colloquium and 3-unit “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Law” course. Concurrent degree students will be eligible for financial support through PS while pursuing the Ph.D. and through the law school while pursuing law studies.