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Experimental Psychology, M.S., Ph.D.

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.

You can apply to the M.S./Ph.D. program in which you will earn a master's degree on your way to the Ph.D. or directly to the Ph.D. program if you've previously earned your master's degree in psychology. SLU does not offer a terminal master's degree in experimental psychology.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Applied Social Psychology LabandSocial Justice Labare associated with the social psychology concentration.

Program Highlights

During each term of the program, you will actively participate in a research vertical team, which will include individual lab groups, concentration groups and/or full program groups. Through discussions, presentations and other activities, this team will help you stay involved in research and other professional development activities during your time in the program.

Curriculum and Program Details

Thirty hours of coursework are required for the master’s degree, which counts toward the 59 hours required for the Ph.D. Students entering the program with a master's degree may present course syllabi and/or other documentation from previous courses to the experimental psychology graduate program director to request substitutions for specific SLU course requirements.

Psychology General Degree Requirements
  • PSY 6030: Human Diversity (1 Credit Hour)
  • PSY 6800: Ethics and Professional Issues (1 Credit Hour)
  • PSY 5080: Advanced Experimental Methods (3 Credit Hours)
  • 5790: Applied Univariate Statistics in Behavioral Science (3 Credit Hours)
  • PSY 6500: Multivariate Analysis (3 Credit Hours)
  • Advanced methods or statistics course (3 Credit Hours)
  • PSY 5990: Master’s Thesis Research (6 Credit Hours)
  • PSY 6950: Written and Oral Preliminary Examinations (0 Credit Hours)
  • PSY 6990: Dissertation Research (12 Credit Hours)
Additional Experimental Psychology Requirements

The following courses are required for the Ph.D. in experimental psychology:

  • Program core: All students in the experimental psychology program will be required to take one 5000-level course from each of the following areas:
      • PSY 5120: Cognitive Psychology (3 Credit Hours)
      • PSY 5250 or 5260: Developmental Psychology (3 Credit Hours)
      • PSY 5130: Neuroscience (3 Credit Hours)
      • PSY 5300: Social Psychology (3 Credit Hours)
  • Concentration core: Advanced 5000- or 6000-level coursework in concentration area (9 Credit Hours)
  • Program electives: Additional coursework in any of the experimental concentrations and/or the teaching of psychology (6 Credit Hours)
  • Research vertical teams (RVT): Each term (including summer) that a student is in the program, the student will actively participate in concentration research teams that meet on an ongoing basis. These may be either individual lab groups or concentration groups, or some combination thereof, as determined by the student's adviser. The goal is to maintain constant involvement in research-related and other professional development activities throughout the student's time in the program.
  • Michael Anch, Ph.D.
  • Tony W. Buchanan, Ph.D.
  • Eddie M. Clark, Ph.D.
  • Richard D. Harvey, 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.
  • Bryan W. Sokol, Ph.D.
  • Jill Waring, Ph.D.
  • Ruth H. Warner, Ph.D.
  • Lisa Willoughby, Ph.D

Find More Information on Faculty Research and Teaching Interests

After graduating, you could pursue a career in research or teaching at the university level.
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2018-2019 Tuition and Fees
Cost Calculator
Financial Aid

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, or adjunct teaching opportunities, among others. Contact Student Financial Services at SLU for more about funding your graduate education at Saint Louis University.

Applicant Criteria

Although there are no specific GRE or GPA admission requirement, the program is competitive. We accept 6-7 students into the program each year, each faculty member accepting one new student a year, on average. GPA, GRE scores, TOEFL scores (if applicable), letters of recommendation, experience, and the fit between the applicant's research interests/career goals and program offerings are all considered.

You’ll need the following items to apply:

Application Requirements

Application form and fee
Three letters of recommendation
GRE scores
Professional goal statement
Interview (may be requested by review committee, usually by phone)

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 experimental psychology department faculty members representing the concentration to which a student has applied.

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.