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Experimental Psychology

Saint Louis University’s multifaceted, full-time Ph.D. program in experimental psychology prepares students for academic teaching and research careers in the areas of cognitive neuroscience, developmental or social psychology.


About the Program

You can choose to specialize your research within the experimental psychology doctoral program in cognitive neuroscience, developmental or social psychology. You’ll receive broad instruction in each of these program areas, and each concentration integrates theory and research through rigorous coursework, research activities and professional experiences.

Three Concentrations

Cognitive Neuroscience

This concentration focuses on the integration of cognitive psychology and neuroscience. It is designed to prepare students for research careers in basic and applied settings, and  teaching at the college level.

Coursework in the cognitive neuroscience concentration deals with basic issues in cognition and neuroscience, while specialty seminars address specific interests. In the laboratory, emphasis is placed on acquiring technical and practical skills in the instrumentation and research methodology associated with your specialization. Writing and presentation skills necessary for the communication of research are emphasized through course assignments, grant writing, presentations at regional and national meetings, and publications.

Developmental Psychology

This concentration investigates developmental processes in childhood and adolescence, with an emphasis on the social aspects of development, such as parent-child interaction, gender cognitions and socio-moral reasoning. It prepares students to teach and conduct research in academic and research settings. Students complete survey courses exploring issues in social and cognitive development, as well as topical seminars more specific to faculty research interests.

Research training for this concentration follows an apprenticeship model. Students begin by immersing themselves in their mentor's research area, conducting collaborative, and increasingly independent, work throughout their tenure in the program. Many students begin teaching — ranging from assistant duties or guest lectures to full responsibility for a course — to prepare for future academic appointments.

Social Psychology

This concentration examines the behavior of groups and individuals in a social context. Areas explored include: self-concept structure, self-regulation, close relationships, stereotyping and prejudice, social justice, the social psychology of health, social exclusion, racial and social identification, and attitudes. 

The social psychology specialty offers academic and research training, as well as an applied component that involves both coursework and professional experience. Students are trained in theoretical and programmatic research as those fields relate to both basic and applied issues. Graduates of the specialty will be prepared for research careers in academic and applied settings, as well as teaching at the college level.

Program Highlights

During each term of the program, you will actively participate in a concentration research team, either an individual lab group or a concentration group as determined by your adviser. The research vertical team will help you stay involved in research-related and other professional development activities during your time in the program.

Curriculum and Program Details

To complete the program, you must complete a minimum of 59 credit hours (or the equivalent for students who enroll with a master's degree in psychology, for which some credit hours may be transferred), as follows:

  • Departmental requirements (14 credits)
    • Methods/Statistics (12 credits)
    • Ethics (one credit)
    • Human Diversity (one credit)
  • Program Core: All students in the experimental psychology program will be required to take a 12 credit program core, consisting of one 500-level course from each of the following areas. Each course is a rigorous, entry-level seminar that provides an introduction to the major topics and questions addressed by the discipline.  
    • Cognitive Psychology (three credits)
    • Developmental Psychology (three credits)
    • Neuroscience (three credits)
    • Social Psychology (three credits)
  • Concentration core: Advanced 500- or 600-level coursework in concentration area (nine credits)
  • Program electives: Six credits of additional coursework in any of the experimental concentrations and/or the teaching of psychology
  • Thesis hours: Six credits
  • Dissertation hours: 12 credits
  • Research vertical teams: During each term of the program, you will actively participate in a concentration research team — either an individual lab group or a concentration group as determined by your adviser. The research vertical team will help you stay involved in research-related and other professional development activities during your time in the program.

Students in the cognitive neuroscience concentration participate in Cognitive Neuroscience of Stress Lab, Neuroscience Sleep Laboratory, Multidisciplinary Aging and Cognition Research Lab, Memory, Language, and Cognition Lab, and Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience of Aging Lab.

Gender Cognitions and Development Lab, Child and Adolescent Social Development Lab, and Child and Family Research Lab are associated with the developmental psychology concentration.

Applied Social Psychology Lab and Social Justice Lab are associated with the psychology concentration.
Faculty
  • Michael Anch, Ph.D.
  • Kira Hudson Banks, Ph.D.
  • Tony W. Buchanan, Ph.D.
  • Eddie M. Clark, Ph.D.
  • Phyllis Terry Friedman, Ph.D.
  • Annie Garner, Ph.D.
  • Jeffrey D. Gfeller, Ph.D.
  • Paul J. Handal, Ph.D.
  • Richard D. Harvey, Ph.D.
  • Dustin K. Jundt, Ph.D.
  • David A. S. Kaufman, Ph.D.
  • Ronald T. Kellogg, Ph.D.
  • Kristin Kiddoo, Ph.D.
  • Challis Kinnucan, Ph.D.
  • Brenda Kirchhoff, Ph.D.
  • Janet E. Kuebli, Ph.D.
  • Donna J. LaVoie, Ph.D.
  • Kimberly K. Powlishta, Ph.D.
  • Michael J. Ross, Ph.D.
  • Cort Rudolph, Ph.D.
  • Edward J. Sabin, Ph.D.
  • Mindy K. Shoss, Ph.D.
  • Bryan W. Sokol, Ph.D.
  • Jillon S. Vander Wal, Ph.D.
  • Jill Waring, Ph.D.
  • Ruth H. Warner, Ph.D.
  • Terri L. Weaver, Ph.D.
  • Jeremiah Weinstock, Ph.D.
  • Lisa Willoughby, Ph.D.
Careers
After graduating, you could pursue a career as a developmental psychologist, cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, social psychologist or university professor.
Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students admitted to SLU’s experimental psychology Ph.D. program typically receive two years of guaranteed assistantship funding that includes tuition, a stipend and health care. During the remaining years, you may receive additional assistantship support, grant support, external fellowships or loans, among others. Contact Student Financial Services at SLU for more about funding your graduate education at Saint Louis University. 


Applicant Criteria

Successful applicants possess a master of science degree in psychology, sufficient GPA, sufficient GRE scores and sufficient TOEFL scores (if applicable).

You’ll need the following items to apply:

Application Requirements

Application form and fee
Transcript(s)
Three letters of recommendation
GRE scores
Résumé
Interview
Professional goal statement

Requirements for International Students

Assistantship Application Deadline

Students who want to be considered for an assistantship must submit their application by Dec. 15.

Review Process

Applications are reviewed by a committee of psychology department faculty members.

The committee examines and reviews the applicant and application wholly, considering GRE scores, GPA, letters of recommendation, previous experience and the fit between the applicant's research interests/career goals and program offerings.

Because the program operates on an apprenticeship model, it is important that the applicant's research interests match the expertise of one or more program faculty members, as reflected in their professional goal statement.