Experimental Psychology PhD Programs

Experimental psychology Ph.D. programs provide the training and knowledge necessary to pursue a career in the research and study of psychological issues for the purpose of finding new and effective treatments and therapies. Schools offering Community Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Admission Requirements for Ph.D. Programs in Experimental Psychology

Admittance to an experimental psychology Ph.D. program will require the submission of official transcripts from all previous undergrad and graduate universities and colleges. In most cases, the applicant must have at least a bachelor's degree in a psychology-related field or have met a prerequisite number of hours in psychology and psychology research courses. A GPA of as low as 2.75 is acceptable but typically not competitive. The candidate for admission will also need to supply at least three and up to six letters of recommendation, including letters from academic sources, and an essay or personal statement that speaks to their prior experience in research, current research, and career goals. Most programs require applicants to have taken the GRE and typically to have scored in the 50th percentile or higher.

General Info For Experimental Psychology Ph.D. Programs

Experimental psychology Ph.D. programs train students in the rigorous processes of scientific experimentation for the purpose of discovering new treatments and therapies for social, mental, and emotional disorders. These programs typically incorporate specializations in behavioral neuroscience as well as cognitive, developmental, and social psychology. As the name experimental implies, these programs prepare learners for a life working in labs and academia. Typically, admission to an experimental psychology Ph.D. program is very competitive with only a handful of applicants being accepted every year. The core classes lean heavily on research, statistics, and experimental design, but also include in-depth studies of issues in psychology. Below is a sampling of some courses a student might encounter.

Research Methods in Psychology

A curriculum for experimental psychology Ph.D. programs will usually feature a course in research methods in psychology. These classes may take an overview of the various research methods or focus on specific forms, such as quantitative or qualitative research. Some topics covered in a research class might include techniques for conducting a study, analysis of findings, behavioral outcomes, and considerations of how time constraints affect methods of psychological treatment.

Statistics for Psychology

Since a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology is heavily dependent on observation and research, a course in using statistics for psychology will typically be a core of the program's curriculum. Topics included in these classes include t-tests, the analysis of variance and covariance, frequentist statistics, and comparison of statistical models. Students should be proficient in using statistical software to best succeed.

Cognitive Neuroscience

A course in cognitive neuroscience will provide experimental psychology Ph.D. students an overview of the biology that affects human cognition and behavior. Some of the biological factors featured in these classes include genetics, hormones, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and anatomy. In some cases, a course in cognitive neuroscience may also take a look at the methods used to conduct studies in the discipline and the effectiveness of their use.

Multivariate Methods Analysis

A class in multivariate methods analysis is a study in statistics on a more specialized level where experimental psychology Ph.D. students will learn to observe and analyze the relationships between multiple variables. They will be given a study in multivariate analysis of variance (known as MANOVA), discriminant analysis, factor analysis, and logistic regression, to name a few. In most cases, learners will be called upon to demonstrate proficiency in the differing forms of analysis as well as understanding research results found in the contemporary literature used for class reading.

Structural Equation Modeling/Multilevel Modeling

Ph.D. students in experimental psychology will often be required to take a course in some form of structural equation modeling. This is simply a technique in statistical analysis that looks at how structures relate to one another. A typical course will instruct learners in the different forms of modeling, including path analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, moderation, and latent growth curves, among many others.

Experimental Design

Experimental design classes will instruct experimental psychology Ph.D. students in the ways to apply statistics and probability in the creation and analysis of psychological experiments. These courses will typically present an overview of the multitude of questions that must be considered when trying to design experimental projects that avoid faulty data. Some of the themes considered will include how to create and present questionnaires, the strengths and weaknesses of open questions as opposed to closed questions, comparing rating to ranking, the biases of acquiescence responses, whether to include don't-know responses on a questionnaire, and subject introspection in regards to thoughts and actions.

Experimental psychology Ph.D. programs give students the professional-level education required to have a career in the testing and research areas of psychology. The classes featured in these programs allow for the design and implementation of psychological experiments while also providing a strong foundation of knowledge in contemporary psychological theory and practice.

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