FAQs for Prospective Graduate Students
Our graduate program trains students to make original contributions to knowledge by conducting scientific research. Students therefore spend most of their time planning, doing, presenting, and publishing their research. They also spend their time taking courses that build knowledge in varied areas of psychology and beyond, depending on their interests. The research projects students do and the courses they take help them achieve the seven objectives of our program.
During your time as an undergraduate, the courses you took were the primary way you learned things. Of course, you likely did many other things that were important to you and that contributed to your development – things like participating in clubs, sports, student government – but it was the courses you took that laid a foundation of knowledge in the fields you studied.
As a graduate student in a PhD program like ours, by contrast, the primary way you learn things is by planning, doing, presenting, and publishing research. You still take courses as a graduate student, and the courses are interesting and contribute to developing expertise in the field, but even more important is the research you do outside the classroom.
You may have been a research assistant in a research lab as an undergraduate, and you may even have conducted a senior honors thesis with a faculty advisor too, but you likely did not emerge ready to disseminate the findings to scientists in the field at conferences or in manuscripts submitted to journals for publication independently. Training people to do so is the focus of programs like ours.
Graduate students do research projects to fulfill program requirements in collaboration with their faculty advisor. Typically, the research projects graduate students in our program pursue are extensions of or clearly linked to the faculty advisor’s research program. That’s why it is so important to apply to work with a faculty advisor who does research that you’d like to build upon. In most cases, the level of research independence increases as one progresses through the program, but the research you do with your faculty advisor should be a good fit with the advisor’s program of research throughout your time in the department.
Admitted students are funded for the 9-month academic year for up to 5 years. There are a few sources of funding.
Most graduate students in our program earn a stipend for serving as a teaching assistant who helps an instructor with one of our department’s courses for up to 20 hours per week on average. Some graduate students earn a stipend for serving as a research assistant who helps conduct grant-funded research in a faculty member’s lab for up to 20 hours per week on average. Stipends are governed by a collective bargaining agreement negotiated through the Service Employees International Union Local 509.
We also encourage students to apply for fellowships through external funding agencies; such fellowships allow students to earn a stipend while conducting their own research in collaboration with their advisor. Fellowships typically allow graduate students to focus on their research more than they would be able to do when funded through the teaching or research assistantships described above. Graduate students receive a full tuition waiver and free health insurance each year during the period of funding eligibility. See Psychology’s Graduate Program Handbook and the GSAS PhD Student Handbook for details.
In addition, graduate students in our program can apply for a stipend to help them cover expenses while they continue their research over the summer (June to August). We typically award 5-8 fellowships of $5,000 each; the award process is competitive. Applications for summer fellowships are due in March with notifications made later that month or in April. See fellowship descriptions here.
Finally, thanks to a generous gift from Dr. Jeff Stibel, A95, we typically award two summers of funding ($5,000 each summer for the first two summers after matriculation) to up to three applicants at the time of their admission to the program. In addition, our department is often successful obtaining Dean’s or Provost’s Fellowship funding from the university; these fellowships also give recipients $5,000 for each of the first two summers after matriculation. These are awarded at the time of admission to the program or shortly thereafter.
Faculty in our program are experts in helping graduate students pursue research-oriented academic positions post-PhD. However, earning a Psychology PhD from our department opens many career doors and we support them all. The knowledge, skills, and abilities that graduate students in our program develop by learning how to make original contributions to knowledge through scientific research have many applications. Regardless of their eventual career pursuits, however, graduate students in our program spend most of their time planning, doing, presenting, and publishing their research. Graduates from our program leave with scientific training that enables them to get jobs in many settings. Examples from the last several years:
- Chief Diversity Officer, Chatham University
- Chief Science Officer, Blank Slate Technologies
- Cognitive scientists @ DEVCOM Soldier Center
- Data scientists @ Onboard Data, Google, Boston Fusion
- Director of Diversity & Inclusion, US House of Representatives
- Faculty members @ Aalborg, Duke, Miami, SUNY Purchase, Wellesley
- Postdocs @ ASU, Emory, Harvard, HBS, MGH, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest
- User experience researchers @ Google, Instagram, Meta, Yahoo
For help with pursuing internships and full-time permanent positions in corporate, government, nonprofit, technology, and other non-academic sectors, graduate students in our program can rely on experts at the Career Center.
The best way to learn about the research that faculty members are doing – really learn it, well enough to know whether you want to spend a lot of time doing research with them – is to read some of their most recent publications. Faculty publications are listed in their faculty profiles and often on their lab websites. If you don’t have access to a paper you’re interested in reading, email the faculty member to ask for a copy. Faculty love to know that someone is reading their work and are happy to give access to anyone who asks.
We don’t offer training in Clinical Psychology at the graduate level. If you are only interested in earning a PhD in Clinical Psychology, other programs will be a better fit for you. However, several faculty members in our department do clinically-relevant research; if you are interested in earning a Psychology PhD without clinical training, feel free to apply. If you are interested in School Psychology please take a look at the School Psychology program at Tufts.
Yes! Psychology is one of several home departments for the interdisciplinary PhD program in Cognitive Science. If you are interested in working with a faculty advisor in the Psychology Department to earn a joint PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science, you should apply through the Psychology Department. There is a lot of information about this program available on the Cognitive Science program website.
APA accredits health service psychology programs (e.g., clinical, counseling, school). Our PhD program is an experimental psychology program so APA accreditation does not apply. Information about Tufts accreditation is available on the Office of Institutional Research website.
Individual faculty play a huge role in determining which applicants are admitted to our PhD program; this is because admitted students are essentially accepted to work in the lab of a specific faculty member, which is where they get much of their research training outside of coursework. Faculty review applications with an eye toward identifying applicants who have the knowledge, skills, and interests to succeed in their labs.
The following faculty members may be recruiting a graduate student to join their lab in the Fall 2024 application cycle (applications due December 1, 2023):
- Aerielle Allen
- Stephanie Badde
- JP de Ruiter
- Xandra Kredlow
- Keith Maddox
- Paul Muentener
- Ani Patel
- Liz Race
- Ayanna Thomas
- Marcus Weera
The following faculty will not be recruiting a new graduate student in the Fall 2024 application cycle:
- Bob Cook
- Phoebe Dinh
- Ari Goldberg
- Gina Kuperberg
- Klaus Miczek
- Alexander Queen
- Jessica Remedios
- Lisa Shin
- Sam Sommers
- Holly Taylor
- Heather Urry
- Nate Ward
If your preferred advisor is listed in the "Not Recruiting" list, we suggest you not list them in your application to our program. Instead, we encourage you to consider the full-time faculty in the "Recruiting" list to see if someone else could be a good fit; many of us collaborate and have overlapping interests. If a faculty member is not listed above, chances are good that they will not be recruiting a new graduate student.
It’s often a good idea to contact prospective faculty advisors by email before applying. You’ll find reasons why and suggestions for how to do this on our How to Contact a Prospective Faculty Advisor page.
Successful applicants to our PhD program in Psychology at Tufts are those who exhibit great fit in terms of their research interests and experience, and readiness to pursue doctoral training, including skills related to writing and technical matters that may be relevant.
Most were undergraduate psychology majors who have taken statistics and research methods courses. Most applicants earned a solid cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) or have explained in their research statement, optional materials, or via their recommenders any extenuating circumstances that contributed to a lower GPA (e.g., caregiving, a need to work full-time while pursuing the degree).
Most have been a research assistant in a research lab at another institution during their undergraduate studies and many have worked full-time as research coordinators after completing their undergraduate degree. Some have already earned a master’s degree before starting our program but that’s not typical or required.
A complete application has many elements, all of which we review holistically and are important. Arguably the most important part of the application, however, is the research statement. To help you craft the strongest possible research statement, please see information about writing a research statement on our website.
In addition, if you apply to our program, please note the name(s) of specific faculty in our department with whom you're applying to work in the application portal and in your research statement. The full list of application requirements for the Psychology PhD program is provided on the Graduate Admissions website.
Consistent with the position taken by the Tufts administration, we in Tufts Psychology believe that the creation and maintenance of a diverse and inclusive environment is essential to rigorous thought, informed analysis, and scholarly excellence. As such, we will continue our efforts to achieve the excellence that travels with diversity while also upholding the law.
We encourage you to make it clear in your application how your lived experience demonstrates qualities that are critical to success in pursuing a PhD in our program. Earning a PhD in any program is hard! Thus, we are especially interested in learning how your lived experiences showcase perseverance, resilience in the face of difficulty, motivation to undertake intensive research training, involvement in efforts to promote equity and inclusion in your professional and/or personal life, and how your lived experiences have led to unique perspectives that enrich the research questions you ask, the methods you use, and the communities to whom your research applies. The research statement is the ideal place to incorporate such information.
Applications are due no later than December 1. If a member of the faculty is interested in interviewing someone, they will contact that applicant directly, possibly as early as December but often in January. Applicants that the department wants to consider further would be invited to our prospective graduate visit, which takes place in February. Offers of admission generally are issued after that visit in February or March, but no later than mid-April.
Yes! There are a few ways to obtain an application fee waiver.
For one, the graduate school will waive the Fall 2024 application fee for folks applying to Psychology’s PhD program who participate in our open house this fall. Our open house will be an online asynchronous event that you can participate in at your leisure. Here’s a flyer describing the event; click here to register up to December 1, the day applications to our program are due.
The graduate school will also waive the application fee for applicants with connections to various organizations (e.g., McNair Scholars, Leadership Alliance, NESCAC seniors and recent graduates); see Application Waivers and Special Funding here.
Lastly, applicants can request a waiver of the application fee by contacting Graduate Admissions.
Submitting Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as part of your application is optional. You may submit GRE or GRE Psychology subject test scores if you wish. Students sometimes choose to submit GRE scores if they believe those scores better characterize their academic preparation for graduate school than their grade point average at other institutions. But we do not rely on any one element of the application. We review applications holistically and our admissions process does not disadvantage applicants who do not submit GRE scores.