Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in the field of Psychology

Program Learning Outcomes for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of Psychology

Upon completing the MA and PhD degrees in the field of Psychology, students will be able to:

  1. Describe key concepts, principles, and overarching themes in psychology and develop a comprehensive knowledge of scientific theories and empirical findings in a specialty area.
  2. Explain different research methods used by psychologists, and design and conduct studies to address psychological questions using appropriate research methods. They will analyze data from any of a wide variety of research designs using appropriate univariate, multivariate, and/or graphical methods. Students will demonstrate that they follow the APA Ethics Code in the treatment of human and nonhuman participants in the design, data collection, interpretation, and reporting of psychological research.
  3. Apply scientific reasoning to interpret psychological phenomena. They will be able to identify methodological and statistical problems in published research and evaluate the appropriateness of conclusions derived from psychological research.
  4. Write a paper that clearly summarizes previous research, details methods used in the research, presents statistical analyses, and relates the findings to previous research and theory. They will communicate results––through writing, tables, and graphs––that clearly and accurately reflect research findings. Students will present their research and answer questions in a formal setting.

Requirements for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of Psychology

The MA degree is a thesis master’s degree. For general university requirements, please see Thesis Master’s Degrees. For general university requirements for PhD degrees, please see Doctoral Degrees. For additional requirements, regulations, and procedures for all graduate programs, please see All Graduate Students. For both MA and PhD degrees, students must complete a research thesis, including a public oral defense. Required coursework is determined by the student’s Research Interest Group (cognitive and affective neuroscience, human factors/human-computer interaction, industrial/organizational, or psychometrics and quantitative psychology). Students must complete an admission-to-candidacy procedure to establish their expertise in their chosen specialty. Competence in a foreign language is not required. For additional information on each Research Interest Group (RIG), please see the Department of Psychological Sciences Graduate Program.  

Research Interest Groups (RIGs)

  • Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: The Cognitive RIG seeks an understanding of such basic mental activities as perceiving, attending, remembering, learning, judging, verbalizing, and imagining. The Affective Neuroscience RIG investigates the relationship between the human brain and higher forms of behavior, including sensation, perception, attention, memory, language, social cognition, emotion, emotion regulation, and health. 
  • Human Factors/Human-Computer Interaction: The Human Factors/Human-Computer Interaction RIG investigates interactions among humans and other elements of a system. We are especially concerned with the interaction of humans with computer systems. 
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology: The Industrial and Organizational (I/O) RIG studies human behavior in organizational and work situations. Topics include motivation at work, the aging workforce, discrimination in the workplace, job performance, and team training. 
  • Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology: Psychological science critically depends on data that are reliable, accurate, valid, and fair. Serving this purpose, PhD students in the Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology RIG obtain specialized skills related to the substantive development; statistical modeling and analysis; and resulting interpretation of psychological measures, experiments, and interventions. 

The program has a strong research orientation, and whether or not students plan to pursue a research career, they are expected to spend a large portion of their graduate years actively engaged in research. 


Total Credit Hours Required for the PhD Degree in the field of Psychology 90

Policies for the PhD Degree in the field of Psychology

Department of Psychological Sciences Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum.  As an additional resource for students, the department of Pyschological Sciences publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here: 

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Psychological Sciences website:

Opportunities for the PhD Degree in the field of Psychology

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Psychological Sciences website: