Graduate Program Requirements

In the first year, students are required to take the Proseminar (PSY 500/501), which covers several basic areas of psychology. By the end of the second year, students should have demonstrated basic competence in quantitative methods by completing Foundations of Statistical Methods for Psychological Science (PSY 503) and Advanced Statistical Methods for Psychological Science (PSY 504). Students must have completed a six-week course in the Responsible Conduct of Research (PSY 591a). In consultation with their advisor, students may enroll in additional seminars in the Department of Psychology and/or other departments at Princeton when appropriate.

Students are required to take Design & Interpretation of Social Psychological Research (PSY 551) and/or Research Seminar in Cognitive Psychology (PSY 543) every semester. These courses are weekly seminars in which colleagues and external speakers in the student’s field present. In addition, students are themselves required to present once per year. If a student is seeking a joint degree in neuroscience, Current Issues in Neuroscience and Behavior (PSY 511) is also required every semester.

The third, fourth and fifth years are devoted to continuing study in the student's area of specialization by means of completing the general examination, submitting a thesis proposal, doing independent research, and taking advanced seminars. Normally, the doctoral dissertation is completed by the end of the fifth year.


Students can take the general examination beginning in the fourth term of enrollment. All students are expected to have successfully completed the general examination by the end of the sixth term of enrollment (effective fall of 2018, students will be required to complete the general examination during the third year October general exam period set by the Graduate School). No student will be admitted to a fourth year without completing the general examination. All components of the examination must be passed before a graduate student can advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

A decision as to whether the student has passed the general examination is made by the full faculty acting on the recommendation of the examining committee. The basic criterion for passing the examination is the faculty's conviction that the student is prepared to begin final stages of work on the doctoral dissertation.

The final public oral examination for the doctorate is based upon the problems, methods, and results of the dissertation and the relation of its findings to current problems in psychological research.

Please contact the Graduate Program Manager with any questions.