The New School for Social Research

PhD in Psychology

  • The Department of Psychology offers the PhD in psychology with specializations in either Cognitive, Social, and Developmental Psychology or Clinical Psychology. The program requires 60 credits (including 30 MA credits), except in Clinical Psychology, where the requirement is 90 credits. Specific requirements for the PhD in clinical psychology are listed below.

    Admission to the PhD Program

    A student who enters the Department of Psychology is not automatically accepted for study toward the PhD degree. Separate admission into the PhD program must be obtained. All students new to the Department of Psychology begin their study with an application to the General Psychology MA program.

    Students matriculated in the master's program at The New School for Social Research must formally request permission to continue study toward the PhD. They may apply for admission either to the Cognitive, Social, and Developmental PhD program, the Clinical PhD program, or both. To be eligible to apply, students must complete the distribution requirements for the MA degree with an overall grade point average of at least 3.5 at the time of application, for the Clinical PhD program and a GPA of at least 3.7 for the Cognitive, Social, and Developmental Program. Students must have completed the one-semester, no-credit pro seminar offered in the fall semester. In addition to filling out an application form that includes a personal statement and selecting a thesis advisor, students must apply to take the PhD qualifying examination, or have demonstrated sufficient progress on a research master's thesis.

    Students with MA degrees in psychology from other universities may be eligible for "Advanced Standing" status in the New School MA program. Advanced Standing status is not automatically granted. It is awarded at the discretion of the admission committee and reserved for students who have performed extremely well in their previous studies. Accepted students are informed of whether or not they will be admitted with Advanced Standing status prior to beginning the MA program. Once accepted, eligible students (see Psychology Department Handbook for specific eligibility requirements), may apply to enter the Clinical PhD or the General Psychology PhD programs after at least one semester of study here at the MA level, depending on how many of their credits transfer and assuming they have successfully completed requisite courses to meet eligibility for doctoral application. Students in this situation should consult the section "Advanced Standing" in this catalog for additional information.

    Application to the PhD programs should be made when students are completing their first thirty credits (students must be scheduled to complete the MA program in the spring semester prior to beginning the PhD program). In order to advance to doctoral student status at the New School, students will have to pass a comprehensive examination (i.e., the first half of the PhD qualifying examination). Students who wish to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology must also pass a screening interview by the Clinical Psychology faculty and complete all application requirements. Students who wish to pursue the PhD in both clinical and general psychology must submit a statement of research plans. Requirements for admission to Clinical and General PhD status are detailed in the Psychology Department Handbook (PDF). Students will be informed of the preliminary status of their applications before the PhD qualifying examination is administered: that is, whether they will be admitted provided they pass the qualifying (comprehensive) of the examination; admitted if space permits; or not admitted.

    New Dissertation Requirements

    Preliminary Dissertation Proposal and Defense

    This replaces the Major PhD Qualifying Exam or "Comps II," which was required prior to the 2007–08 academic year.

    Students write a short preliminary proposal for doctoral dissertation research. This proposal should be no longer than 4–5 double spaced pages in length, and should not include a comprehensive literature review or extensive references—though it is assumed that these have been consulted. It should, however, include a very brief literature review as well as basic overview of the study rationale, methodology, hypotheses, and planned analyses. This Preliminary Dissertation Proposal must be submitted be to the student's dissertation chair and one other committee member in time for a Preliminary Proposal Defense (PPD).

    The PPD will be attended by the student's dissertation chair and by the second committee member. (The other committee members do not need to read the Preliminary Dissertation Proposal or be present at the PPD). The purpose of the PPD meeting is to provide students with feedback that will help them to refine their proposals for their Dissertation. Once a satisfactory outcome of this PPD has been achieved, the student is given permission to work toward preparing the full Dissertation Proposal.

    Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and Defense

    The student expands and refines the Preliminary Dissertation Proposal into a Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. The Doctoral Dissertation Proposal should include a literature review that provides a compelling rationale for the research, a methods section that includes a detailed description as well as justification for the procedures to be utilized, as well as a list of references. The suggested length for the literature review is 6–10 pages. No page length is suggested for the methods section, but it should be as long as necessary to provide an adequate rationale for as well as detailed description of the methodology. Any questionnaires or standardized scales to be utilized should appear as an Appendix to the Proposal.

    The Doctoral Dissertation Proposal defense can then be scheduled with the requisite number of 3 departmental committee members and one Dean's representative.

    PhD Dissertation

    The PhD dissertation in psychology will consist of two separate but related portions:

    Literature Review: The first portion is a stand-alone literature review article that is submitted in a form that is potentially acceptable to a peer review journal. This article should be approximately 10,000 words or 25–30 (double-spaced) pages in length (including references), and will review theoretical and empirical research relevant to the topic on which the dissertation research focuses. The article should be written in APA format, and should be similar in nature and structure to a Psychological Bulletin article. It should be critical and synthetic in nature and written at a level of sophistication needed for submission to a good, peer review journal. This review article will be based, in part, on the student's literature review for the dissertation proposal, but will be revised in light of his or her evolving thinking (as well as relevant new literature emerging) while the dissertation data are being collected.

    Empirical Article: The second portion consists of a stand-alone empirical article written in a form that would be acceptable to a peer review journal. This article should be approximately 10,000 words or 25–30 pages (double spaced) in length (including references), and should conform to APA format. Students should familiarize themselves with the types of articles that appear in quality journals relevant to their area of research, and use these as models when writing their dissertations.

    Doctoral Dissertation Defense: The student must complete and defend the dissertation in a manner acceptable to The New School for Social Research. See Dissertation Requirements in the Degree Requirements section of this catalog for additional information.

    Assistantships: A limited number of research and teaching assistantships are available in the Psychology department. Teaching assistantships are usually restricted to doctoral candidates.