Graduate Handbook

Program Overview

The graduate program in Psychology at Georgetown University offers a full-time program of study leading to a Ph.D. in Psychology. Entering Ph.D. students select one or more primary mentors from among our faculty with whom they will conduct their research, and they are guaranteed 5 years of tuition and stipend support while conducting this research. 

Entering students also select to follow either the Human Development and Public Policy (HDPP) or Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience (LCN) track, which offer different selections of courses. In addition to required Psychology courses, HDPP students also take courses in Public Policy at the McCourt School of Public Policy; a dual degree (MPP/Ph.D.) in Psychology and Public Policy is also offered. Students in the LCN track take courses in Neuroscience through the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN).

Both tracks offer an interdisciplinary education in the processes and contexts of psychological development across the lifespan. Program requirements provide training in the theories and methods of the psychological sciences with an emphasis on psychological development and the contextual variables–biological, familial, social, cultural, economic, historical, and political–from which the field draws its societal applications.

The Department of Psychology thus provides a unique graduate education that bridges academic study and practice in both public policy and neuroscience, facilitated by our department’s close ties with Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience, and School of Medicine, as well as our proximity to Congress, the White House, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academies, and many of the world’s most prestigious research and nonprofit organizations.

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Human Development & Public Policy (HDPP) Coursework

The concentration in Human Development and Public Policy and the dual degree in Psychology and Public Policy link students to Georgetown’s extensive network of policy scholars and programs in the McCourt School of Public Policy. The coursework integrates a solid grounding in the theoretical, conceptual and empirical work that defines developmental science with rigorous instruction in quantitative skills and policy analysis, the policy process, and additional disciplinary perspectives common to policy studies, notably economics and political science. 

Required coursework and credits

(NOTE: the sequence in which courses are taken may vary)

Year 1 – Fall
PSYC 5001 Lifespan Dev: Brain & Cognition (3)
PPOL 5000 Statistical Methods (3)*
PPOL 5006 Public Policy Process (3)
Elective (3) OR
PPOL 5004 Intermediate Microeconomics (3) if in MPP

Year 1 – Spring
PSYC 4810 Child & Fam Policy (3) (or similar)
PPOL 5001 Regression Methods  (3)
PPOL 5010 Ethics, Values & Public Policy (3) AND
PPOL 5005 Microecon II:Mkt Fail Pub Econ (3) if in MPP

Year 2 – Fall
PSYC 5002 Human Development in Context (3)
PPOL 5002 Adv Regression/Prog Eval Meth  (3)
Elective (3) OR
PPOL 5008 Public Management (3) + PPOL 5013 Thesis Workshop (3) if in MPP

Year 2 – Spring
Elective (3)
Elective (3) OR
Elective (3) + PPOL 5014 Thesis Workshop II (3) if in MPP

Students are required to complete 36 credits to fulfill HDPP degree requirements and an additional 12 credits (for a total of 48) to complete the dual MPP/PhD program. Please note that dual degree students have few elective courses available to them given the course requirements of the PhD and the MPP programs. We highly recommend HDPP students take PSYC 5005 Quantitative Methods in Psychology II as an elective. See the Georgetown Schedule of Classes and McCourt MPP Courses pages for information about specific courses.  For registration information, please refer to the University Registrar website.

*Note: students can test out of taking PPOL 5000 by passing an exam during McCourt’s orientation week in their first-year Fall. PPOL 5000 covers the foundations of statistics for social and behavioral science: probability theory, descriptive statistics, statistical inference, t-tests and other basic statistical tests. Students who pass the exam can take an additional elective in their first semester in lieu of PPOL 5000.

Students can register in elective classes in any relevant topic (including classes offered through partner universities) if: 1) the instructor agrees to allow the student to enroll in their course, 2) the student meets all prerequisites, and 3) the course is open to non-degree students. 

First semester HDPP students should submit their Public Policy course requests to the HDPP Graduate Co-Director, who will forward them to the McCourt School Dean’s Office, who will manually enroll each student in the policy courses. The co-director will contact incoming HDPP students in June regarding their first semester fall registration requests.

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Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience (LCN) Coursework

The Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience (LCN) track is selected by students whose interests include the neural basis of cognition, emotion, and behavior, and who seek grounding in molecular and systems neuroscience. Students in this track take courses offered through Georgetown’s Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program (IPN)in addition to core psychology courses. Together, these courses are aimed at providing students with in-depth education in neuroscience research methods and findings and will prepare students for future positions as academic researchers and instructors in academic, biomedical, or applied settings.

Required coursework and credits

(NOTE: the sequence in which courses are taken may vary)

Year 1 – Fall
PSYC 5001 Lifespan Dev:Brain & Cognition (3)
NSCI 5002 Cellular & Molecular Neurosci (6)
NSCI 5003 Neurosci Critical Readings (1)

Year 1 – Spring
NSCI 5005 Systems & Cognitive Neurosci (6)
NSCI 5006 Critical Readings II (1)
NSCI 5008 Org of the Nervous System (2)
NSCI 5007 Surv Skills & Ethics for Scien (2)

Year 2 – Fall
PSYC 5002 Human Development in Context (3) 
PSYC 5004 Quant Methods in Psychology I (3)
Elective (3)

Year 2 – Spring
PSYC 5005 Quant Methods in Psyc II (3)
PSYC 5003 Cognitive Neuroscience (3)
Elective (3)

Students can register for electives in any relevant topic (including classes offered through partner universities) if: 1) the instructor agrees to allow the student to enroll in their course, 2) the student meets all prerequisites, and 3) the course is open to non-degree students. See the Georgetown Schedule of Classes and IPN Courses pages for information about specific courses.  For registration information, please refer to the University Registrar website.

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Program Requirements

General | First Year | Second Year | Third Year | Fourth Year | Fifth Year

The Ph.D. program in Psychology at Georgetown is designed to provide students with the knowledge, skills, experience, and professional network necessary to become an independent investigator in an academic setting if they so desire. There are many outstanding career paths available for psychology Ph.Ds., and we encourage students to consider a wide range of career options following graduation. However, the program is explicitly designed to provide students with the training required to become an independent investigator. 

Students’ first years in the program will focus on classroom learning and developing their research and teaching skills under the supervision of experienced researchers and classroom instructors. As students progress, they will gain skills, knowledge, and judgment such that by the time their 5th year is complete they will be able to independently conduct scholarly research; design and lead classes; and engage in other professional activities such as presenting work to colleagues, applying for funding, and performing service activities for the department, university, and the field.

Students in the program are expected to be familiar with and adhere to all of the requirements described in this handbook. 

General requirements

(1) Satisfactory completion of coursework. Students must complete all required coursework in their selected track (HDPP, HDPP/MPP, or LCN). They must also maintain a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.00 and grades in all courses must exceed a C+. Following receipt of a C+ or lower (or a U) the student will be placed on probation until the course is retaken or a full semester of additional coursework is taken with satisfactory grades, and, in cases in which the unsatisfactory course is required for the degree, that required course has been retaken successfully. Students may not otherwise repeat courses for credit. The Department discourages the use of incomplete (I) grades. Incompletes should be made up within 3 weeks of the end of the semester. Any student with 2 or more incompletes will be placed on probation in the absence of extraordinary justifications. Grades received in courses approved for transfer credit and in courses taken through the Consortium are not included in GPA calculations.

Students are generally discouraged from switching concentrations. However, in unusual cases a student may petition the Graduate Committee to transfer between concentrations. Decisions will be based on preparation prior to entering the program, performance in the program, and reasons for proposing to switch concentrations. Petitions will not be accepted after 3 semesters in the program.

For complete academic procedures and requirements, students are advised to consult the Graduate Bulletin.

(2) Teaching fellowships. Students are required to serve as Teaching Fellows or instructors in undergraduate courses each semester to receive a Teaching Service stipend. Students are exempted from teaching during their first semester and their final semester of the program, during the semester they complete their teaching tutorial, and during both semesters the year (usually the 4th) they teach an independent seminar. When students obtain external funding that supports all or nearly all (at least ⅔) of their annual stipend, they are released from teaching obligations other than those that are part of our department’s training requirements (one term of PSYC 1000, one term of PSYC 2000, a tutorial, and an independent seminar). Stipends that cover 3 or more years of a student’s stipend (e.g., an NSF, a full Healy fellowship, or an ICOS fellowship) release a student from additional teaching obligations during the entirety of their time in the program. Dissertation grants generally only release students from teaching obligations during their final year that is covered by the grant. Satisfactory evaluations from course instructors are required to remain in good standing in the program. Unsatisfactory evaluations may be grounds for probation or dismissal from the program. 

(3) Graduate Lunch. All students are also required to attend (and, beginning in their 2nd year, present annually at) weekly Graduate Lunch meetings, which are held Fridays during the academic year from 12:15-1:15pm. These meetings are aimed at establishing a community of scholars among graduate students and faculty. The content varies, but the central activity consists of research presentations by students. Students and faculty may also suggest content, including outside speakers and professional development seminars or activities. The last Graduate Lunch of each academic year consists of a students-only discussion, after which the group sends the Co-Directors of Graduate Studies a summary of their concerns and suggestions about the program.

(4) Colloquia. Graduate Lunch is typically not held on the first Friday of each month, which is reserved for Psychology Department colloquia, which students are also required to attend.

(5) Submit a proposal for external funding. All students are required to submit at least one proposal for pre-doctoral funding or dissertation funding during their time in the program. This process accomplishes several goals: giving students experience with grant-writing; helping students develop their ideas for their dissertation research; and, optimally, earning funding to support their research and training. Students should discuss optimal sources of funding with their mentor(s) and other faculty and colleagues early and often. For details on sources of external funding, see the Funding Graduate Training section below.

(6) Annual progress reports. Every spring, students will be asked to update a sheet reporting their progress meeting program milestones. They will be asked to provide this updated sheet plus a copy of their CV (with annual updates highlighted), their transcript, and any teaching evaluations to the Graduate Committee by uploading them to a Box folder created by the department administrator. (Teaching evaluations are encouraged for all courses but are required for Research Methods TFs and for students independently leading seminars.) The Graduate Committee will review this information along with evaluations from the student’s faculty mentor(s) and instructor(s) of courses for which the student served as a TF. The committee will then provide the student with a letter reviewing their progress and confirming whether they have met all requirements needed to remain in good standing within the program.

If a student is determined not to be in good standing in the department due to a failure to meet one or more program requirements, the student may receive, in the following order:

The fourth action, termination of candidacy, will be taken either when the student has accumulated two failing grades (F or U) regardless of the number of credits assigned to those courses, or when it is no longer possible for the student’s GPA to reach the minimum level required for graduation in their degree program. Students will not be allowed to register for additional credits beyond those required for graduation for the purpose of raising an inadequate GPA. Termination may also occur if the student fails to meet one or more program requirements and it is determined that they cannot, within a timely period, fulfill them.

First year requirements

The 1 program requirement for students in their 1st year of the program is as follows:

(1) Complete a first-year research project. During the student’s first year in the program, intensive research experience with the mentor will result in a first-year research project. This project is likely to be part of an ongoing project in the mentor’s lab, but students are welcome to conduct original research, including original secondary analyses of existing datasets, subject to the approval of their mentor(s). This project is designed to ensure that students rapidly gain experience conducting research and presenting their results. Students are required to present this research at Graduate Lunch in their second year. They are also required to submit this project as a conference presentation (poster or talk).

Guidelines for timing of first-year research project:

Second year requirements

The 2 program requirements for students in their 2nd year of the program are as follows:

(1) Complete a second-year research project. The second-year project is an independent research project conducted under the supervision of the mentor(s). In contrast to the first year research project, which is likely to be an offshoot of faculty research, this project is intended to be an independent research project designed and conducted by the graduate student. This project may grow out of the first-year project, or it may be separate.

Students are required to present their second-year project during Graduate Lunch in their third year. Students are also required to submit this project as a presentation (poster or talk) at a conference by the summer after their second year. 

Finally, students are required to submit their first-year project and/or second-year project to a peer-reviewed journal. This submission should occur no later than the fall semester of their third year (but preferably the preceding summer). Writing and submitting a journal article requires students to conduct a more sophisticated review of the literature, data analysis, and interpretation of their results than does preparing a poster or talk. In many cases, first- and/or second-year projects also provide pilot data for inclusion in the pre-doctoral research proposal.

Guidelines for timing of second-year research project:

(2) Fulfill a departmental service role. Starting in their second year, all doctoral students assume at least one service role in the department. These roles include but are not limited to coordinating colloquium speakers’ on-campus schedules, serving as the graduate student representative to the faculty, and co-planning and hosting candidates during Ph.D. interview weekends in the winter. Selection and assignment of service roles is made collectively by the graduate students. 

Third year requirements

The 3 requirements for students in their 3rd year of the program are as follows:

(1) Write and orally defend Area Paper. The Area Paper is a written review of the theoretical and empirical literature on the student’s planned dissertation topic, written in the style of a scholarly review article (e.g., Psychological Bulletin or TICS). Ideally, it should serve as a preamble to the dissertation proposal by identifying gaps in the literature the dissertation would aim to fill. The Area Paper can be a meta-analysis, and thus empirical, of a particular research question; however, the paper must still contain sufficient theoretical and empirical background to provide the committee a thorough grounding in the relevant literature.

Students select an Area Paper committee with a minimum of three members; at least two of whom are members of the Department of Psychology, and the third of whom can be a member of the Department or external to the Department. (Usually, this committee comprises 3 of the 4 committee members for the student’s dissertation). Students then must schedule an oral defense in consultation with the committee members. Students submit the written Area Paper to the committee no less than one week in advance of the oral defense. The oral defense involves an approximately 45-minute presentation by the student followed by an exam (questions from the committee). The oral exam also provides an opportunity for students and their committee to reflect on the student’s first two years of study, preliminary plans for their dissertation, and career plans. The area paper and its oral defense serve as the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. Upon its successful complete, the committee completes the Qualifying/Comprehensive Examination Report Form, collects the signatures of the committee, and delivers it to the Registrar. The student should request that the Psychology Department administrator send the committee members the correct form.

Successful completion of coursework and the defense of the Area Paper advances the student to Doctoral Candidacy. 

(2) Complete a Graduate Tutorial in Teaching (PSYC-7949). Students must choose a faculty member to lead their tutorial, which is aimed at helping them to develop the syllabus and course that they will lead independently in their fourth year (see Teaching Experience). They then register for PSYC-7949 as a tutorial during the add/drop period. The tutorial form and instructions can be found on the University Registrar’s website. Students have the option to complete this requirement in the fall of their fourth year if they plan to teach their seminar in the spring of their fourth year.

(3) Register for thesis research (PSYC-9999). Starting this year, students must register for thesis research (PSYC-9999) each year to maintain their full-time status in the program in any semester during which they are not otherwise taking courses that provide at least 3 credits.

Fourth year requirements

The 4 requirements for students in their 4th year of the program are as follows:

(1) Form a dissertation committee. In consultation with their mentor(s), students must identify a four-member dissertation committee. The committee must consist of three Georgetown University faculty plus one external reader. The three Georgetown University faculty include the primary mentor(s), and at least two of the three must be members of the Department of Psychology. The external reader must be faculty from another institution (although they may be affiliated with Georgetown University) who is an expert in the topic of the dissertation. 

(2) Defend the dissertation proposal. In consultation with their mentor(s), students must complete and defend a dissertation proposal using the Graduate School form. Students should aim to complete their dissertation proposal as soon as possible after successful completion of their area paper. 

Dissertation proposals should be written keeping in mind that dissertations in the Psychology Department typically follow the “three paper” format, consisting of several (usually three) stand-alone but interrelated papers, each suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The dissertation is required to be the original work of the student and to contain at least one publishable set of findings, which is to say findings that make an original, empirical contribution to the field and thus advance knowledge. The role of the dissertation committee is to ensure the proposal meets the above criteria and can feasibly be completed and defended by the end of the student’s 5th year in the program.

Students must schedule an oral proposal defense and submit the written proposal to the three members of the committee who are Georgetown University faculty (including the student’s mentor(s)), for their review no less than one week in advance of this defense. 
The defense consists of an oral presentation by the student, followed by a question-and-answer period guided by the selected dissertation committee chair, who cannot be the student’s mentor. Committee members may attend virtually or in person. Following the defense, the proposal form must be approved and signed by the three-person committee, as well as the Director of Graduate Studies. The student must then submit this proposal to the Graduate School. It is recommended that the fourth committee member (the external member) should also attend the proposal defense and approve the dissertation proposal.

(3) Teach an independent seminar. Students are required to teach an independent undergraduate seminar in the Psychology Department on the topic of their choosing. The syllabus and readings for this course should be planned during the student’s Teaching Tutorial in their 3rd year. (Please see Teaching Experience for additional resources related to teaching.)

(4) Register for thesis research (PSYC-9999). To maintain their status as full-time students, students must register for thesis research (PSYC-9999) both semesters. Students must register specifically for Thesis Research, Section 5 (PSYC-9999-05) during the semester that they are teaching an independent seminar.

Fifth year requirements

The 4 requirements for students in their 5th year of the program are as follows:

(1) Defend dissertation data. Prior to scheduling their oral defense, students must defend their dissertation data and receive approval from the three members of their dissertation committee who are Georgetown University faculty (the external reader can also review this information, but does not need to provide approval at this stage). Students must provide these committee members with a written document describing the analyses and results of their dissertation studies, including all relevant tables and figures. The committee is not required to meet at this stage. However, all committee members must provide written approval (email is acceptable) that the student can advance to the dissertation defense, and/or provide suggestions or requirements for changes before the student can proceed to the defense. This written approval from all committee members must be obtained before students can schedule their dissertation defense. The Dissertation Data Defense Approval Form can be found here.

(2) Complete the written dissertation. The dissertation is a description of original research conducted by the student during their 4th and 5th years in the program (although data collection or analysis may have begun earlier). The dissertation is required to be the original work of the student, rather than being derivative of previous research, although the dissertation can be part of a larger project directed by the mentor(s). The dissertation must contain at least one publishable set of findings, which is to say findings that make an original, empirical contribution to the field and thus advance knowledge. Ideally, one or more studies that compose the dissertation will have been submitted for publication by the time of the defense. Dissertations in the Psychology Department typically follow the “three paper” format, consisting of several (usually three) stand-alone but interrelated papers, each suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Accordingly, the dissertation should be written in the format of a series of journal articles suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Each article represents a chapter in the dissertation, which will also include separate introductory and concluding chapters.

No less than two weeks in advance of the oral dissertation defense, students must provide their complete written dissertation (plus a copy of their CV) to the committee and obtain their signatures on the Dissertation Reviewers’ Report form. 

No less than one week  in advance of the oral dissertation defense, students must submit the completed and signed form to the Graduate School. At this time they must also email their dissertation title and abstract to The Graduate School will then announce the dissertation title and date to the entire University community. 

(3) Defend the dissertation. For the dissertation defense, students (Ph.D. candidates) present their research to the committee in the format of a 45-minute research colloquium. In addition to the committee (who may attend virtually or in-person) Psychology Department faculty and graduate students are encouraged to attend, as are friends and family of the candidate and members of the wider Georgetown community. Following the research presentation, audience members are invited to ask questions. Following this open question period, the candidate and committee go into a closed session during which the members of the committee question the candidate. At the end of questioning, the candidate leaves the room while the committee comes to a conclusion about the status of the dissertation. The candidate is then invited to return and informed of the committee’s decision.

If the members of the committee determine that this dissertation is complete and satisfactory in all respects, that all revisions required by the committee have been made, and that the candidate has demonstrated knowledge of the field commensurate to Ph.D. status during oral questioning, they sign and date the Dissertation Cover Sheet. This cover sheet is then returned to the Psychology Department administrator by the dissertation committee chair (not by the candidate).

Although the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences allows Committees the option of selecting “High Pass” and “Distinction” when grading the Dissertation Defense, our Department does not make these distinctions.

(4) Register for thesis research (PSYC-9999). To maintain their status as full-time students, students must register for thesis research (PSYC-9999) both semesters. 

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Teaching Experience

Teaching Fellowships | Teaching Tutorial | Independent Seminar

Teaching is an essential part of an academic career. Providing instruction to undergraduate and graduate students is the central reason universities exist, and main campus faculty like those in the Department of Psychology are compensated in exchange for their service as instructors. Developing your skills as an instructor will enable you to provide this essential service in your future career if you so choose, and will also enable you to hone your skills in public speaking and science communication.

All students in the Ph.D. program in the Department of Psychology are required to serve as Teaching Fellows or independent course instructors every semester to receive Teaching Service stipends. Students are exempted from teaching during the following semesters:

Thus, students typically serve as a Teaching Fellows for a total of five of their ten semesters in the program, as well as serving as an independent instructor for one semester. 

Students may be exempted from some teaching requirements if they are receiving external stipend support (for example, an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Healy Fellowship, or dissertation fellowship; see Funding Graduate Training).

All students, regardless of the source of their funding, are required to complete the following teaching requirements as part of their training in the program:

Teaching Fellowships

All students eligible to serve as Teaching Fellows (TFs) will be assigned lecture courses for which they will serve as TFs by the Graduate Committee. They will receive these assignments before the start of the semester and can then meet with the course instructor to review the goals and design of the course and their specific responsibilities. TF responsibilities are estimated to require 15 hours of work per week each semester. 

Students may have the opportunity to develop and present lectures as part of their responsibilities. When this is the case, they are advised to collect student evaluations for use in their development as instructors. They can create an evaluation form of their own devising or ask the course instructor for a template. These evaluations should be submitted with their annual review packet. Evaluations can also be submitted in future applications for faculty positions.

At the end of the semester, the course instructor will provide the Graduate Committee with a review of the student’s performance as a TF. Unsatisfactory evaluations may be grounds for probation or dismissal from the program. 

Teaching tutorial

In their 3rd year, students complete a teaching tutorial with the instructor of an advanced undergraduate seminar of their choosing. Students should choose an instructor to lead their tutorial who teaches a seminar similar in topic or design to the one the student aims to develop. The teaching tutorial replaces TF responsibilities during that semester; however, the teaching tutorial participant is not a TF for the course. Rather, the professor and student should meet at the start of the semester to determine, jointly, which responsibilities the student should assume to gain the type of training the student needs to design and teach their independent seminar.

The goal of the teaching tutorial is to provide the student with the opportunity to learn evidence-based practices for developing and leading an independent class in a one-on-one tutorial format with an experienced instructor. The tutorial will also provide the student an opportunity to gain experience and training leading a seminar. Goals of the tutorial include:

Among the excellent resources you can find that provide guidance on developing and teaching courses, we recommend The Professor’s Guide to Teaching

Independent seminar

In their 4th year, students will lead an independent 3-credit seminar (PSYC-4120) on a topic of their choosing. Please be prepared for the process of developing and leading your seminar to be challenging and time-consuming as well as intellectually stimulating and rewarding.

CNDLS has excellent resources for students leading seminars, which can be found here

This seminar should be structured around the syllabus you have developed during your teaching tutorial and should be aimed at providing advanced undergraduate students with in-depth education in a topic in which you are an expert and that does not overlap too heavily with an existing seminar offered by the department.

For teaching needs related to classroom technology or other features of a physical classroom (temperature settings, furniture) contact Classroom Education Technology Services (CETS) at (202) 687-0131 or For more information about CETS, visit

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Funding Graduate Training

Pre-dissertation Funding | Dissertation Funding | Internal Funding Opportunities

All students accepted into the Department of Psychology’s Ph.D. program are guaranteed five years of funding. Stipends are distributed on a 12-month basis for incoming students, and typically are provided in exchange for students serving as Teaching Fellows in the Fall and Spring, and as Research Fellows in the Summer. Regardless of whether students are serving as Research or Teaching Fellows, their tuition, health insurance, and stipend will be covered by the Graduate School. Students’ first 4 years in the program are supported by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, assuming the student remains in good standing and continues to make satisfactory progress toward the degree, and the fifth year is supported by an external grant or fellowship or by available stipends from the Graduate School.

The amount of this stipend may be found on the Financial Support page of the Graduate School of Arts and Science’s website. In addition to the 9-month stipend amount guaranteed by the graduate school, our department guarantees that all students funded by the Graduate School will receive additional funding of $3,000 in Years 1 through 4 to bring the student’s stipend amount to the 12-month level, plus guaranteed full academic-year funding in Year 5.

Note: students who entered the program in 2018 or earlier receive stipends distributed on a 9-month basis and are guaranteed the additional stipend supplement offered by their doctoral mentors upon matriculation.

Pre-dissertation funding

All students are encouraged to apply for a pre-dissertation fellowship to support their graduate training. These fellowships are prestigious and often provide additional financial support for students’ educational and research activities. In addition, they represent a valuable service to the department, as they release funding to support the stipend of a fifth-year student who does not have external funding. 

If a student receives an external pre-dissertation fellowship that provides a lower stipend than the 12-month stipend amount guaranteed by the Department, the student will receive the difference up to the 12-month amount (this funding will come from the Graduate School and/or the Department). 

Federal sources of pre-dissertation funding include the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) and the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA, or F31). Incoming students can also be nominated by the Psychology department for a Patrick Healy Graduate Fellowship from the University, which may be awarded to students whose background or experience, when evaluated holistically, suggests they are uniquely able to contribute to the diversity of the Georgetown community and to the academic profession as a whole. A comprehensive list of predoctoral funding sources can be found in the linked list compiled by the Graduate School, including funding sources that provide special consideration for BIPOC students or those from other under-represented groups and non-U.S. citizens.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of annual stipend support and a cost of education allowance to the institution. The three years of funding may be distributed flexibly over the students’ time at Georgetown according to the student’s and mentor’s obligations and other funding.

Students funded through an NSF GFRP receive Research Fellow stipends and are not required to serve as Teaching Fellows in the 6 semesters they receive NSF stipend support. However, they are required to fulfill the teaching requirements that make up training component of our program: General Psychology (PSYC-1000, one semester), Research Methods (PSYC-2000, two semesters), the teaching tutorial, and an independently taught seminar (PSYC-4120).

Patrick Healy Graduate Fellowship Program

The Patrick Healy Graduate Fellowship Program is named in honor of Fr. Patrick Healy, the 26th President of Georgetown University. Fr. Healy is recognized as the first Black American to earn a Ph.D., to become a Jesuit, and to become the president of a predominantly white university. The fellowship named in his honor is designed to help recruit and retain graduate students who are talented individuals of the highest caliber and who might otherwise find it difficult or impossible to successfully pursue a doctoral degree, and was created in recognition that diversity is a crucial element in preparing students for the service of others. Healy Fellowships are awarded to students whose background or experience, when evaluated holistically, suggests they are uniquely able to contribute to the diversity of the Georgetown community and to the academic profession as a whole. Support is provided for up to five years, assuming satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. 

Students funded through a Healy Fellowship are required to fulfill the teaching requirements that make up training component of our program: General Psychology (PSYC-1000, one semester), Research Methods (PSYC-2000, two semesters), the teaching tutorial, and an independently taught seminar (PSYC-4120).

Dissertation funding

The Graduate School does not provide funding for the 5th year for Ph.D. students in the Department of Psychology. All students are required to apply for external dissertation funding as part of their training program requirements. Students who receive external dissertation funding will be exempt from serving as Teaching Fellows in their fifth year, provided they have met all program training requirements for teaching.

Students who do not receive external funding to support the 5th year of their training will be funded through external grants awarded to their mentor(s) or using Department of Psychology funds.
Some external scholarships and fellowships limit each department to a single nominee (e.g., the APF Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Fellowship). Students interested in applying for such funding should indicate their interest to the co-directors of the Graduate Program no later than three weeks before the application deadline. If more than one student wishes to be nominated by the department, the Graduate Committee will select the student who will be nominated. 

Sources of dissertation funding

There are various federal and foundation dissertation fellowships available to our students. Below is a sample, though not an exhaustive list. Please also see the list of external funders of doctoral and dissertation work available on the Graduate School website and the linked list provided by the Graduate School, which includes dissertation fellowships that provide special consideration for BIPOC students or those from other under-represented groups and non-U.S. citizens.

Internal Funding Opportunities

Students can apply for funding for research related activities to both the department and the Graduate School. For a full list of information on GSAS funding for dissertation research, conference travel and other research or training related activities, see the Graduate School website. Below is a list of the most commonly used funding opportunities.

Dissertation Travel Funding

The Graduate School also invites nominations for Dissertation Research Travel awards for up to $5,000 each. These competitive awards support the travel costs of students enrolled in doctoral students engaged in archival or field research outside the United States.

Conference Travel Funding

Graduate students are expected to present their work annually at conferences, and the Department will provide up to $1200 to each student annually to support their expenses incurred in conference attendance. Funds must be used within the fiscal year awarded (July 1 – June 30). To receive reimbursement, students must submit the Graduate Student Travel DocuSign PowerForm (available on the shared Box folder “PowerForm Links”) with original, itemized receipts attached to the form within 60 days of attending the conference. This fiscal year restriction applies to all funds, including those awarded by the Graduate School.

Extramural Workshop or Training Funding

Many workshops, such as those offered by the American Psychological Association, provide important opportunities for learning specialized skills, such as advanced data analysis, as well as opportunities for networking. Graduate students are encouraged to apply for and attend these workshops as appropriate. Students may apply for up to $1,000 in funding from the Psychology Department to support participation in workshops. Note that requests must include a brief description of how the work will benefit the student’s training and must be endorsed by the mentor. The Graduate Co-Directors then make a recommendation to the Department Chair regarding whether a proposal should be supported. Students are typically limited to receiving funding for only one workshop during the course of training. To receive reimbursement, students must submit the Workshop Funds Request Form and original, itemized receipts within 60 days of attending the workshop to the department administrator.

Language Scholarships

The Graduate School provides tuition scholarships to graduate students who need to develop language skills for their research. On the recommendation of the psychology grad directors, a scholarship will be provided to cover enrollment in one approved language course per semester. Summer language scholarships are also available. More information is available here

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Graduate Student Union (GAGE)

The Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE), in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), is a collective bargaining unit that represents students enrolled in graduate degree programs (Ph.D. and Master’s) and who also hold service titles as teaching or research assistants. Thus, doctoral students in our program are required to maintain membership in GAGE. For information about the benefits and procedures of GAGE, see the GAGE website.

Personal Leave and Vacation

It is important that students familiarize themselves with policies relevant to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with GAGE. This includes policies relevant to personal leave and vacation days. Doctoral students on service stipends (TF or RF) are only permitted to take up to 5 consecutive personal days off during the 12-month academic year (including Fall, Spring, and Summer terms). Requests for additional or individual (non-consecutive or fewer than 5 days) personal days must be made in writing to the student’s primary doctoral mentor in advance and be approved by the mentor. Personal days do not include official university breaks, such as winter break and spring break, or holidays, such as Memorial Day, which apply to all students, faculty and staff.

If a student seeks to take more than 5 consecutive personal days, they must apply to the Graduate School for a leave of absence. For a medical or parental leave of absence, a student can request to continue to receive their stipend for up to 6 weeks without assuming research or teaching assistant responsibilities. Alternatively, the student can decline the stipend during the entire leave and receive it in a later semester.

Life at Georgetown

The Department of Psychology is housed on the third and fourth floors of White-Gravenor Hall (abbreviated WGR; all campus buildings have 3-letter abbreviations) located at the corner of 37th and P Streets NW in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC. The contact information for the department is as follows:

Mailing Address:

306N White-Gravenor Hall
37th and O Streets, NW
Washington DC 20057

Phone: 202-687-4042
Fax: 202-687-6050

History and layout of White-Gravenor

The building was completed in 1933 as one-fourth of an intended quadrangle (the fourth building was never completed) on the main campus of the University. It is named after Jesuits Andrew White and John Altham Gravenor, who in 1633 set sail from England on The Ark for British North America to avoid giving the oath of allegiance and supremacy to the King of England, and whose landing on March 25, 1634 on Saint Clement’s Island in Maryland is now celebrated as Maryland Day. The gothic-style stone and brick building is adorned with symbolic ornamentation, including carvings over the main entrance representing academic subjects that include philosophy (a lamp) and lab instruments (science). 

The building’s basement houses the University Registrar, Bursar’s Office, and Student Accounts and can be accessed by two entrances on the west side of the building. The first floor houses the Deans Offices and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and can be accessed by the central and east entrances. The second-floor houses classrooms. This floor, as well as the third and fourth floors, can be accessed through the east and west entrances. In addition to the Psychology Department, the fourth floor contains classrooms, laboratories used by the Department of Chemistry, and Classroom Education Technology Services (CETS).  An elevator services all floors of the building and can be accessed via two entrances on the east side of the building. Restrooms are available on the west end of each floor of the building. A stairwell to be used for fire evacuation is located in the rear of the building on the east side (off the 301-hallway kitchen).

Office space and keys

The Department occupies all of the third floor of WGR and several suites on the fourth floor. On the third floor, faculty and staff offices can be found in three wings connected to the main central corridor: the 301 suite, 302 suite, and 306 suite. Shared lab spaces can also be found off these wings, off the central corridor, and on the fourth floor.

First-year PhD students are provided with a joint office space in WGR 311A. In addition, students are usually provided work space within their mentor(s)’ laboratory. Keys for each office can be obtained from the department administrator, located in WGR 306-N, as well as the Wright lounge and seminar room, which graduate students are free to use when available.


Each graduate student will be provided with a mailbox in Suite 306. Mail for graduate students is placed in these individual boxes daily. Be sure to check your mailbox regularly. 


There is a telephone for use by all members of the Department located in WGR 405. If this phone is out of service or busy, please use the phone at the front desk in Suite 306.

Kitchen and common areas

There is a kitchen located in Suite 301 for the use of faculty, staff, and students. Water, coffee and tea are available, as well as a table and chairs, storage space, dishes, silverware, a refrigerator, microwaves, and a toaster. 

A large multi-purpose space (that includes a lounge, classroom, and space for group meetings and presentations) can be found in the WGR 311 suite off the main corridor. This space has computers for public use, a refrigerator, and drinking water. 

A small lounge can be found on the east end of the main corridor that contains seating and a table. This space can be used by guests or participants waiting to take part in a study.

Please help keep these facilities in good condition. You MUST clean up after yourself. Do not leave food in the refrigerator for more than a week and expect it to remain there. Do not leave any dirty dishes in the sink or in the dishwasher.

Safety and Security

Please do not leave personal valuables lying in sight in unlocked spaces in the building, as the campus is open to the public and theft is a semi-regular occurrence. Do not lend your keys to any other individual under any circumstance. Do not provide access to the building to anyone unfamiliar to you. If you lose your keys, please notify the Department Administrator.

For any safety concerns, please contact the campus police department at (202) 687-4343.

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Other Resources

Electronic resources

University Information Services. UIS is your primary resource for electronic and computing needs at Georgetown. Visit or email The NetID you obtain through UIS will be the code you use to access most university resources. You will be required to set up a password and Duo password protection.

Wifi. The on-campus network is SAXANET, which you can access with your NetID.

Qualtrics. You can request a Qualtrics account for creating online surveys; for more information visit You can also request this account be linked to your lab’s account to enable sharing surveys and data.

SONA. The department uses SONA to recruit and schedule undergraduate and community research participants. 

Other university resources

General policies. In general, the information can be found in the Graduate Bulletin, the primary source for information about all manner of academic policies and procedures.  

Registration and academic calendar. Important policies and procedures pertaining to graduate student registration, including the registration schedule, withdrawal deadlines, academic calendar, and course schedules, are found in the Graduate Bulletin, Section II: Registration.

Graduate Deans. The Graduate School deans and other administrators are responsible for the governance of graduate programs across the university. Please visit the Graduate School Leadership page for more information about academic affairs, financial aid, admissions, administration, and graduate finances.

Office of Global Services. Issues of special relevance to international graduate students are handled by the Office of Global Services (OGS).  These include visa and immigration issues; work visas; full-time/part-time study issues; emergency situations; and other topics. The OGS offices are located in the Car Barn building at 3520 Prospect Street, N.W. (near 35th and Prospect Street) in Suite #210.

Graduate Student Government. The GSO is the governing body for graduate students and also serves as an advisory board for student organizations composed primarily of graduate students. The GSO hosts academic, networking, cultural and social events and also allocates funding to member organizations for events and programming. 

Policies relevant to integrity and conduct. The policies and procedures for general integrity and conduct are found in this document from the Office of Student Conduct. In particular, policies related to sexual misconduct, diversity, equity, and affirmative action can be found here.

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The handbook was most recently updated on 8/31/2022.