students and professors sitting around a table

Graduate Program

Although you declare your primary interest in one of these areas when applying to the graduate program, you are exposed to all areas through your courses, research collaboration, and departmental colloquia. The specific path you will take to that goal will depend in large part on your individual interests and the kinds of educational experiences you pursue.  Requirements for course-work are structured to give you a broad exposure to the major areas of psychology as well as basic training in statistics and research methods. Individual programs have additional emphases that reflect their training goals.

Cutting across these four primary research areas, a number of Psychology & Brain Sciences faculty are interested in Diversity Science.  This area focuses on research with and/or about underrepresented and understudied populations, including investigating the causes and consequences of bias, racism, prejudice, and socioeconomic disparities, as well as ways to overcome these challenges.

Areas of Specialization

Aging & Development

The Aging and Development Program trains psychologists at both the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels for careers in research and teaching. Focuses of our program include cognitive changes that accompany the normal aging process as well as pathological conditions, issues related to social psychology, health promotion and neuropsychology, and language and cognitive development in children. The program integration with the other areas of specialization in the Psychological & Brain Sciences department allows you to combine your training in this area with training in other areas of psychology.

learn more about our aging & development program

Behavior, Brain & Cognition

The Behavior, Brain & Cognition program trains students to conduct basic research in fundamental aspects of behavior in preparation for a career in research. Department faculty members and students are actively engaged in research on learning, memory, perception, attention, language, decision making, and other aspects of cognition and performance in human and other animals, with an emphasis on human cognition.

learn more about our behavior, brain, & cognition program

Clinical Science

The clinical program is devoted to training clinical scientists and to the promotion of the integration of science and practice. Our primary goal is to train students who will lead the search for new knowledge regarding the assessment, understanding, and treatment of psychological disorders. Our department includes leading investigators in the psychology of aging, cognitive neuroscience, and personality research. The clinical area also has significant ties to psychologists in the medical school who are concerned with psychological issues associated with medical problems.

learn more about our clinical psychology program

Social & Personality Psychology

The Social and Personality Psychology program emphasizes grounding in the basic theories and conceptual orientations of the discipline, with an emphasis on the cognitive and motivational underpinnings of normal social behavior. This program also requires broad training in research design and statistics so you can approach research problems in a variety of ways and in a variety of settings.

learn more about our social & personality psychology program

Interdisciplinary Opportunities

student working in a lab

The Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience Pathway (CCSN)

The Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience (CCSN) Pathway is a specialized curriculum available to students pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, or other brain-related disciplines at Washington University (including students in the Medical Scientist Training Program). The CCSN Pathway is not a separate degree-granting program, and CCSN students must fulfill all of the degree requirements of their home programs.

Learn more about CCSN
students working on a laptop

Graduate Certificate in Quantitative Data Analysis

This certificate program provides an organized way for students to achieve an advanced level of knowledge and skill in quantitative social science data analysis, interpretation, and visualization. It requires students to master both an introductory level of quantitative skills and knowledge, as well as more advanced quantitative skills and knowledge. This Certificate is open to students enrolled in Ph.D. programs in the Arts & Sciences Social Science Departments, including the Ph.D. programs in Psychological & Brain Sciences, Economics, Political Science, Anthropology, and Education.

Learn more about the certificate

Admission, Financial Aid, & Fellowship Opportunities

We admit students for full-time study toward the PhD degree. A terminal master's degree program is not offered. To be admitted next fall, you need to submit your online application by December 1 to the the Office of Graduate Studies in Arts & Sciences.

learn how to apply

Research in Diversity Science

Diversity Science is not a separate area of graduate study in the department, but provides an opportunity to apply work in all areas of psychological science to understanding the causes of bias and disparities and eventually to eliminate them. Diversity Science is the scientific study of the causes of racism, socioeconomic and health disparities, and bias. Research in Psychological & Brain Sciences includes research on early adversity, the development and expression of bias across the lifespan, intergroup relationships and conflict, and the mechanisms of disparities in health and well-being across the lifespan, as well as in access to health care and education.

learn more about diversity & diversity science at WashU
students with paint on their faces

Have more questions?

For questions about the Graduate Program, contact Julie Bugg.

Contact Julie Bugg