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College of Letters and Science
The Department of Psychology offers the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Psychology.
1285 Franz Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563
Leading to the degree of
The Psychology department admits only applicants whose objective is the Ph.D., although students may be awarded the M.A. en route to the Ph.D.
Admission Limited to
Deadline to apply
GRE (General and/or Subject)
GRE: General (Clinical only: General and Subject in Psychology taken within the last five years)
Letters of Recommendation
In addition to the University’s minimum requirements and those listed above, all applicants are expected to submit the departmental application and a statement of purpose.
Admission is for Fall Quarter only and on a full-time basis only.
Applications must be complete and received by the department by the deadline to be considered.
Interviews (in person or by phone) are required for Clinical, Developmental, Health and Social Area finalists.
The department regards a broad undergraduate background in the behavioral, biological, physical, and social sciences as the best preparation for graduate study in psychology. It is desirable, but not required, to have majored in psychology as an undergraduate. Some college coursework in statistics or advanced mathematics is required; please visit the departmental website for additional information.
See under Doctoral Degree.
Areas of Study
Foreign Language Requirement
Requirements for the M.A. degree are nine graduate courses (36 units), including Psychology 250A-250B-250C (or a course substitute approved by the department), 251B-251C (research project must be completed), and at least three of the four required core courses (students should refer to Doctoral Degree Course Requirements for further details). One 596 course (four units) may be applied as an elective. Courses in the 400 series may not be applied. All undergraduate deficiencies must be cleared before the M.A. degree is awarded. Students that have earned a previous Master’s Degree in Psychology or a related field are not permitted to earn a duplicate Master’s Degree in the same field at UCLA.
Comprehensive Examination Plan
Doctoral students should consult the department for details on the master’s comprehensive examination.
Doctoral students typically receive the master’s degree by the end of their fourth quarter in residence.
Upon admission to graduate status, each student is assigned an adviser on the basis of the student’s interests as indicated in the application. Students are required to meet with their adviser each quarter, to receive approval of their enrollment plan. Students who would like to change advisers may request to do so. Students are evaluated quarterly while satisfying core program requirements, a period of time expected to span over six quarters. The evaluations are conducted by the Graduate Evaluation Committee and students are notified in writing as to whether they are making satisfactory progress in the program.
Major Fields or Subdisciplines
Students are required to obtain a thorough background in research methodology and psychological theory. Major specialized training is available in the following areas of psychology: behavioral neuroscience; clinical; cognitive; cognitive neuroscience; developmental; health; learning and behavior; quantitative; or social psychology. Students admitted in either the behavioral neuroscience or cognitive areas may take the program in cognitive neuroscience. The course requirements for the cognitive neuroscience program serve as a combined major and minor. Students who select this option remain in their area of admission for administrative purposes. Students admitted in the Cognitive Area may take the program in Computational Cognition. The course requirements for Computational Cognition serve as a combined major and minor. Student who select this option remain in the Cognitive Area for administrative purposes. Students may also receive specialized training in community psychology, culture, brain and development, experimental psychopathology, and political psychology.
Foreign Language Requirement
Students should refer to the Psychology Handbook available on the departmental web site for additional information on courses that can be applied toward the program requirements listed below.
General Core Course Requirements
The core program includes a research sequence (Psychology 251A-251B-251C), a statistics sequence (Psychology 250A-250B-250C (or a course substitute approved by the department)), and three or four additional core courses. Psychology 250A, 250B and 250C must be completed in the first year; Psychology 251A-251B-251C must be completed by the end of the Fall Quarter of the second year. The three or four additional core courses must be completed within the first six quarters in residence. Two core courses are selected from the student’s major area, and two courses are selected from two separate areas outside the student’s major. Core courses can be applied toward major or minor area requirements.
Students must enroll in one independent study course each quarter, beginning with Psychology 251A in the Winter Quarter of the first year. Students may select from the following independent study courses: Psychology 251A, 251B, 251C, 596, 597, 599. In addition to Psychology 251C in the second year, each year at least one of these courses must be a research-oriented individual study course, i.e., Psychology 596 or 599.
Major Area Course Requirements
Courses applied toward the major must be passed with a grade of B- or better.
Behavioral Neuroscience. Neuroscience M203 and either Neuroscience M202 or Psychology M117A. Students interested in molecular biology generally take option 1 and minor in neuroscience. All majors take eight units from the Psychology 205 series, three quarters of Psychology 212, and two behavioral neuroscience seminars approved by the department.
Clinical. Psychology 270A-270B-270C, 271A-271B-271C, 271D, 273A-273B-273C, 277, 289A-289B-289C, and two advanced clinical courses. Students who wish to apply Psychology 298 courses toward this requirement must obtain departmental consent.
Psychology 287 may not be applied toward fulfillment of the Advanced Seminar Requirement.
Practicum and Internship Requirements for Clinical Students
(1) At least 400 hours of approved, supervised pre-internship practicum (Psychology 401) are required, of which 150 hours must involve direct clinical service and 75 hours must be formal scheduled supervision. These hours are usually completed during the second through fourth years. All advanced students working with clients must enroll in Psychology 401 (one to four units). All students must take a second‐year practicum in the Psychology Clinic, as well as a practicum in the third year and/or fourth years in approved practicum sites outside of the department.
All clinical training must be approved by the Director of Clinical Training while students are enrolled in the program and students are discouraged from making independent arrangements for clinical training and are prohibited from providing direct clinical services in clinical settings not expressly approved by the DCT, including private practice psychological assistantships.
(2) The equivalent of one-year’s full-time supervised internship (Psychology 451) in an acceptable setting approved by the faculty, is required. This is usually taken in the fifth year or sixth year. Students should contact the department for further information on internship requirements.
In exceptional cases, a student who has completed at least nine months of an approved internship may petition to file the dissertation and receive the Ph.D. degree if the student has (1) completed all academic requirements; (2) passed the final oral examination; (3) received doctoral committee approval to file the dissertation; (4) provided evidence of satisfactory completion of at least nine months of an internship approved by the faculty; and (5) obtained approval from the clinical area chair. If the petition is approved, it is with the clear understanding of the student and the department that the remaining months of internship that are required by the American Psychological Association will be completed as outlined in the internship contract. Such petitions are considered to be exceptions rather than the rule. Documentation of subsequent internship completion will be provided by the Director of Clinical Training.
Cognitive. Psychology 260A-260B and four additional cognitive area courses approved by the department.
Cognitive Neuroscience. The following course requirements satisfy both major and minor area requirements in cognitive neuroscience: 8 units of Psychology 205 (overlaps with core course requirements), Neuroscience M203, three quarters of Psychology 212, and Psychology 260A-260B, Two courses (8 units total) in the BNS area approved by the department are also required. Four courses in the cognitive area approved by the department are also required, including at least one core course and one seminar..
Computational Cognition. The following course requirements satisfy both major and minor area requirements for cognitive area students who elect the major area track in computation cognition: Psychology 260A-260B, two cognitive area core courses, Statistics 200A, and four psychology courses to be approved by the department.
Developmental. Two of the following courses: Psychology 240A, 240B, 240C. Three quarters of 241, and two additional developmental area courses approved by the department.
Health Psychology. Psychology 215A, 215B, six quarters of Psychology 425, and three additional courses approved by the department. One quarter of Psychology 425 must be taken simultaneously with Psychology 215A.
Learning and Behavior. Four learning and behavior courses approved by the department, and enrollment in Psychology 201 is required each quarter the course is offered.
Quantitative. Four quantitative area courses and several additional courses in Psychology, Education, Statistics or Biostatistics approved by the department.
Social. Two quarters of Psychology 226A-226B-226C during the first year and three additional quarters in years two and three. Students also must complete five area courses approved by the department.
Minor Area Course Requirements
Students must select one minor area. Courses applied toward the minor must be passed with a grade of B- or better. Students may minor in any of the areas listed under Major Fields or Sub-Disciplines, with the exception of clinical, as well as in political psychology or diversity science. Students may petition for individualized minors or a minor in experimental psychopathology. Training is also available in community psychology.
The minor is normally satisfied by taking three to four specified courses as indicated below. In planning a minor, students should note that minor area courses cannot be selected from among those that could satisfy the major area requirements, unless approved by the department. Other options are also available; students should see departmental bulletins for further details. The following is a list of courses required to complete the standard departmental minors.
Behavioral Neuroscience. All behavioral neuroscience minors must take four units of Psychology 205 and eight additional units of behavioral neuroscience and/or neuroscience courses approved by the department.
Cognitive. Three cognitive courses approved by the department, two of which must be from Psychology 259 through 266.
Computational Cognition. Two courses in computational methods and one course in statistics. Course selection must be approved by the department.
Culture, Brain and Development. Psychology M247, one course in culture, one course in development, and one course on the brain. Course selection must be approved by the department.
Developmental. Two courses in Psychology 240A, 240B or 240C and one additional developmental area course approved by the department.
Diversity Science. Psychology 295 and two additional courses approved by the department.
Experimental Psychopathology. Four courses petitioned and approved by the clinical area.
Health Psychology. Psychology 215A, 251B, two quarters of 425 and one additional health psychology course (four units) on relevant topics approved by the health psychology faculty and the department.
Human-Computer Interaction. Psychology 298 (special topic is Introduction to User Interface Design), and two additional courses in Psychology, Information Studies and/or Design|Media Arts. Course selection must be approved by the department.
Learning and Behavior. Two courses from Psychology 200A, 200B or 200C and one additional learning and behavior course approved by the department.
Quantitative. Three quantitative area courses approved by the department.
Political Psychology. Students should see the Psychology Handbook for details.
Social. Psychology 220A, 220B, and one additional social area course approved by the department.
All students are required to take Psychology 495 during the first year of the graduate program.
Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations
Academic Senate regulations require all doctoral students to complete and pass University written and oral qualifying examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Also, under Senate regulations the University oral qualifying examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee. In addition to University requirements, some graduate programs have other pre-candidacy examination requirements. What follows in this section is how students are required to fulfill all of these requirements for this doctoral program.
The qualifying examination generally consists of three separate segments. The first is an examination administered by the major area, which examines in breadth the student’s knowledge of the major field. The second segment is an individualized examination, required by the behavioral neuroscience, clinical, health, and quantitative areas. The individualized examination examines the student’s in-depth knowledge of the area of specialization. The third segment is the University Oral Qualifying Examination. All Ph.D. requirements must be completed before students are allowed to take the University Oral Qualifying Examination. The oral qualifying examination must be taken by the end of the fourth year in residence. Students should contact the department to obtain qualifying examination guidelines for each area.
Advancement to Candidacy
Students are advanced to candidacy and awarded the Candidate in Philosophy (Cipher.) degree upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.
Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.
Final Oral Examination (Defense of the Dissertation)
Required for all students in the program.
The normative time-to-degree for doctoral requirements is six years. Students are required to complete various stages of the program as follows:
Core Program: No later than the sixth quarter at the end of the second year of the program.
Coursework Requirements: Prior to taking the University Oral Qualifying Examination.
Comprehensive Examinations: Students should refer to individual area guidelines, available from the Graduate Program Coordinator.
University Oral Qualifying Examination: Must be completed no later than Spring Quarter of the fourth year of the graduate program.
Final Oral Examination: Must be completed within three years of passing the University Oral Qualifying Examination.
Degree Requirement Completion: All requirements form the Ph.D. degree, including the filing of the dissertation must be completed within six calendar years of the date of admission to the graduate program.
Termination of Graduate Study and Appeal of Termination
A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing termination of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.
Special Departmental or Program Policy
In addition to the standard reasons noted above, a student may be recommended for termination who receives two grades of B- or one grade lower than B- in the core program or who does not meet the time requirements for completion of the core program. Such cases are considered by the Graduate Evaluation Committee. If it is approved by the departmental chair, a recommendation for termination is made to the Graduate Division by the Vice Chair of Graduate Studies.
Area committees also may recommend that a student be terminated. Grounds for a recommendation for termination include: a pattern of unsatisfactory performance in other course work; failure of a qualifying examination; substantial violations of professional or ethical standards as those standards are defined by law or by the Ethical Principles of Psychologists of the American Psychological Association (adopted January 24, 1981; American Psychologist, 1981, 36, 633-638); or, for clinical students, inadequate professional skills. A recommendation for termination also may be initiated by the Graduate Studies Committee for insufficient progress toward the Ph.D. degree, as evidenced by a failure to obtain the degree within seven calendar years following matriculation or three years following advancement to candidacy. These recommendations are evaluated by the Graduate Studies Committee. If approved by the departmental chair, a recommendation for termination is made to the Graduate Division by the vice chair of Graduate Studies.
Students are informed by the Vice Chair for Graduate Studies when actions concerning them are under consideration by the Graduate Studies committee. A student may appeal a recommendation for termination to the departmental chair.