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