PhD in Psychology

The graduate program's course-work and milestone requirements have been constructed to consider the student's professional development and to foster a successful research career. Effective written communication is an essential research skill. As such, one of the main objectives of the graduate program focuses on effective written communication of scientific research. To achieve this objective, students receive extensive feedback on writing from personalized faculty committees.

Additional program objectives include: 

  • Written communication — students will gain facility in written scientific communication.
  • Oral communication — students will gain facility in oral scientific communication.
  • Synthesizing psychological research literature — students will gain facility in understanding scientific research from theoretical and methodological perspectives.
  • Independent scientific research — students will move toward conducting independent and peer-collaborative scientific research.
  • Statistical competence — students will gain statistical competence in techniques common to psychological research.
  • Professional visibility — students will learn fundamentals of promoting and responding to the broader research community about their work.
  • Teaching competence — students will learn fundamentals involved with teaching courses in psychology

Tufts University also offers advanced degrees in the area of School Psychology through the Department of Education and Clinical Developmental Psychology through the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development.

Pre-master's and Post-master's Components

Our PhD program has two components: a pre-master's and a post-master's. Students admitted to the program with bachelor's degrees are initially admitted to the pre-master's component. After completion of the master's degree, the student formally requests to proceed to the PhD program. The decision to admit the student to the PhD portion of the program is made by a majority vote of the department faculty. Although most students enter the program with a bachelor's degree, students may be admitted with a master's degree from another institution and receive advanced standing in the program pending departmental approval (see Transfer Students section below). All students are expected to be full-time and actively involved in research throughout their graduate studies.

Program Requirements

The program is based around five major annual milestones:

  • Year 1: First year project
  • Year 2: Propose master's thesis and at least 6 months later defend master's thesis.
    *Apply to PhD portion of the program.
  • Year 3: Conceptual Review Paper
  • Year 4: Conceptual Presentation
  • Year 5: Propose Dissertation and at least 6 months later defend Dissertation

General Requirement (Years 1-4): Grant/Publication submission

Besides providing an easy way for you to measure your progress in the program, these major projects are designed, along with the associated course work, to provide you with a strong research oriented background in your specialty. The specific requirements for the these milestones are described in detail in the Psychology Department Graduate Handbook.

Transfer Students

Students entering the program with a master's degree in psychology from another institution must meet with their advisor, the graduate director, and the department chair to determine which course and program requirements remain to be met. Students entering the program with some graduate credits but without a master's degree may transfer up to two graduate level courses toward the MS, except when those courses have already been counted for another degree. Graduate courses taken elsewhere may, however, be used to waive a program requirement (e.g. statistics). Application for course transfer must be made to the Dean of the Graduate School, after approval by the department chair. Additional transfer courses may be applied to the PhD requirements; however, these courses do not need to be referred to the dean of the Graduate School. Students who did not do an experimental thesis as part of their MS degree elsewhere must do a thesis project at Tufts. Also, all students with an outside MS degree in psychology must do a first-year project, and must demonstrate statistical competence. Review the Psychology Department Graduate Handbook for more details.