Graduate Program

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About our Ph.D. Program

The Graduate Program in Psychology at Georgetown University offers a fully funded five-year, full-time program of study leading to a Ph.D. in Psychology. Students in the program concentrate in either Human Development and Public Policy (HDPP) or Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience (LCN).

The program is fundamentally a research program. Students are expected to meet rigorous research milestones and receive training in conducting independent scholarly research. Students in the HDPP track also take core courses at the McCourt School of Public Policy, while students in the LCN track take core courses in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at The Georgetown University School of Medicine. Students in both concentrations also take core and elective courses in the Psychology Department. A dual degree in Psychology (Ph.D.) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) is also offered in collaboration with the McCourt School of Public Policy to students in the HDPP concentration.

The department does not offer degrees in Clinical/Counseling Psychology or a Masters program.

Program requirements are designed to offer students rigorous training in the theories and methods that characterize the psychological sciences and enable them to place the study of development and neuroscience into the broader contexts–biological, familial, social, cultural, economic, historical, political–from which the field draws its societal applications. All entering Ph.D. students select a primary mentor or mentors with whom to conduct research. Faculty research ranges from studies of learning, cognition, emotion, and social behavior at specific stages of childhood and adolescence to the study of neural and physiological mechanisms supporting these and other processes throughout the lifespan.

Located in close proximity to the White House, Congress, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and many of the world’s most prestigious research and nonprofit organizations, the Department of Psychology provides a unique graduate education that bridges academic study and practice in both public policy and health/medicine. Our graduate Ph.D. program is designed to take full advantage of these resources.

Applying to Our Ph.D. Program

Students can apply to the Psychology Ph.D. program through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences portal. 

Requirements

In addition to completing the online application form, prospective students must submit the following materials. Because our PhD program is fundamentally a research program, successful applicants must demonstrate a record of scholarly research experience and should highlight their research-related strengths, interests, and goals. Admissions materials are evaluated holistically by members of the department. Following best practices, we do not apply cutoffs when evaluating GRE or other standardized scores:

  • Post-secondary transcript(s) 
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • A resume or CV
  • A writing sample, which should be academic in nature. The applicant must be the sole author.
  • GRE General Test scores* (Psychology Subject Test scores are optional). Scores must be submitted directly from ETS and must be dated no more than 5 years prior to the date of matriculation. GRE scores are optional in the 2020-2021 application year only.
  • English proficiency scores (TOEFL or IELTS) for non-native English speakers. Scores must be dated no more than 2 years prior to the date of matriculation. International applicants who have earned a post-secondary degree from an accredited college or university for which the primary language of instruction is English are not required to provide English proficiency scores. 
  • An application fee ($75)

Reducing barriers to application

The Department is committed to reducing barriers to graduate school application. The following options are available to reduce potential financial and logistical barriers to applicants:

  • Optional GRE scores in the 2020-2021 application year only. In light of potential barriers to taking the GRE that are posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, submitting GRE scores will be optional for the 2020-2021 application year.
  • Application fee waivers. Students for whom the $75 application fee is prohibitive may send a brief email to the Graduate Program co-directors. The co-directors will then determine whether to recommend that the application fee be waived. 
  • Use of the GRE Fee Reduction Program. Students for whom the costs of taking the GRE and submitting GRE scores pose barriers to applying should see ETS’s GRE Fee Reduction Program for possible reductions in fees.
  • Submission of unofficial transcripts. Applicants may directly submit unofficial transcripts with their application, rather than requesting official transcripts be submitted by their institution. Transcripts must be retrieved from applicants’ institutions and must include the institution name, years of matriculation, degree(s) earned, and graduation date. Please do not upload screenshots of a transcript. 
  • Direct payment of travel costs during interview visits. For the subset of applicants invited to visit campus for an interview, the department will pay air or rail travel costs directly, rather than requiring applicants to submit documents for reimbursement. NOTE: in the 2020-2021 application year, interviews will be conducted virtually.

Diversity at Georgetown

The Psychology Department, along with Georgetown University, encourages all qualified students of any age, gender, race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin–including students from racial and ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in the social and behavioral sciences–to apply to our program. The University, including the Psychology Department, does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, handicap, color, national or ethnic origin in administration of educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other University-administered programs. Inquiries regarding Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity may be addressed to Director, Affirmative Action Programs. Georgetown University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Applying to joint and linked programs

Dual PhD/MPP

Students applying to the HDPP concentration have the option of simultaneously applying to the MPP program at the McCourt School of Public Policy. Note that students who enter the HDPP program can apply to the MPP program during their first year of the doctoral program. For students accepted into the MPP program, credits earned in their first year will be conferred to their MPP program status.

Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience

Students can apply simultaneously to the Ph.D. program in Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN) if they wish. The IPN has a separate admissions process and is appropriate for students wishing to focus intensively on neuroscience. Students admitted to the IPN can select a member of the Psychology faculty as their primary mentor beginning in their second year. Either the student or faculty must procure external funding to support IPN students in Years 3-5 of the program.

Cognitive Science program

Students can apply simultaneously to the Ph.D. program in Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Cognitive Science program. This program is designed to enable graduate students to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive science by taking courses and building an advisory committee of faculty members from multiple departments at the University, including the Departments of Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Neurology, Biology, and Spanish and Portuguese. 

Questions?

Please contact the Graduate Program Co-Directors. You may also read our FAQ.

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