Psychology (Ph.D.)

Psychology (Ph.D.)

Psychology student giving a presentation

Why pursue a Ph.D. in psychology at UNH?

If you’re interested in taking your academic career one step further with the intent of teaching at the college and university level, our psychology Ph.D. program is for you. You’ll have the option to complete your degree in five years as you develop a broad knowledge of psychology, hone your teaching and communication skills, and perform research in your area of interest. We offer specialization in three areas: brain, behavior and cognition; social/personality; and developmental psychology. Nearly three-quarters of our graduates have gone onto careers in academia.

Program Highlights

Our graduate psychology program has been recognized by the American Psychological Association for Innovation in Graduate Education in Psychology. As a student in the program, you’ll receive a full tuition waiver and stipend for five years (contingent on university funding). You’ll work closely with experienced faculty while conducting research. You’ll also gain significant teaching training through our Practicum and Seminar in the Teaching of Psychology, and teaching experience, first leading an Introduction to Psychology course, then teaching mid-level courses in your area of interest. Many of our students earn a master's degree or cognate in college teaching. Our Preparing Future Faculty Program has been nationally recognized.

Potential career areas

  • College or university faculty
  • Research

Psychology Department
468 McConnell Hall
15 Academic Way
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824 

Phone: (603) 862-2360


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Curriculum & Requirements

The Department of Psychology offers a four- or five-year program of study leading to the doctor of philosophy degree. The basic goal of the program is the development of behavioral scientists who have a broad knowledge of psychology, can teach and communicate effectively, and can carry out sound research in an area of specialization. Although some students seek employment outside academia, the program is oriented toward developing the skills required by the research psychologist who intends to become a college or university teacher.

Specialization Areas
The three areas in which a student may specialize are:

  • brain, behavior, and cognition
  • developmental psychology
  • social psychology/personality

Degree Requirements

PSYC 805Research Methodology and Statistics I4
PSYC 806Research Methodology and Statistics II4
First-year students participate in a noncredit graduate proseminar which indroduces students to the research programs of the faculty.
PSYC 901
PSYC 902
Graduate Pro-seminar
and Graduate Pro-seminar
Required Courses
PSYC 904First-year Graduate Seminar4
PSYC 907Research Methods and Statistics III4
PSYC 991
PSYC 992
Practicum and Seminar in the Teaching of Psychology
and Practicum and Seminar in the Teaching of Psychology
Select six advanced graduate seminars

Depth in a particular area is obtained through participation in advanced seminars and by independent reading and research conducted under the supervision of a faculty member.

Prior to the doctoral dissertation, the student carries out original research that culminates in either a master's thesis or a paper of publishable quality. A master's degree is awarded upon the successful completion of a program approved by the department and dean of the Graduate School. This typically takes place by the end of the second year.

The third year of the program is dedicated to the practicum and seminar in the teaching of psychology in conjunction with the teaching of introductory psychology.

Advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree depends on receiving the master's degree, passing a specialist examination in one of the department's areas of specialization, and identifying a topic for doctoral research. Advancement to candidacy is usually accomplished by the end of a student's fourth year in the program. During the fourth year, students typically begin dissertation research and teach an introductory course in their specialty area. Most students complete the Ph.D. degree in the fifth year.

  • Demonstrate mastery of existing theory and research.
  • Develop the ability to conduct sound, independent ethical research.
  • Demonstrate abilities to conduct scholarly and professional activities in an ethical manner.
  • Demonstrate teaching abilities.


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: August 15
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

GRE Optional But Recommended

The GRE scores are optional, though strongly recommended. If you wish to provide scores please email the scores directly to the department once you have submitted your application online.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

The Brain, Behavior, and Cognition program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of cognition and brain function. Its aim is to provide students with the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to conduct independent research and to become productive scholars and teachers in this area. Mentorship comes from nine faculty members in Psychology, and can be enhanced by collaboration with faculty from other departments such as Animal and Nutritional Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Linguistics, and Zoology. The faculty in Brain, Behavior, and Cognition offers a wide range of knowledge and experience analyzing behavior and applying the techniques of traditional experimental psychology, psychophysics, and modern neuroscience to the study of related cognitive, perceptual, biological and neurological mechanisms.

Most graduate students work on research projects that are part of a faculty member's on-going research, but students are encouraged to develop independent lines of research. Currently, faculty members have interests in basic memory processes; reading comprehension; psycholinguistics; language development; physiological mechanisms that underlie certain memory, stress, and mood disorders; psychopharmacology; psychoneuroimmunology; animal learning and behavior; comparative psychology; basic visual processes including spatial and temporal properties of stereopsis illusions, color vision, and physiological optics.

Animal labs include a variety of computer-controlled apparatus for training diverse behavioral tasks. These include a Morris water maze, video tracking system for open field, automated radial arm mazes, swim stress apparatus, chambers for olfactory discrimination and memory, rodent operant chambers for training DM and DNM with retractable levers, avian operant chambers with video displays and touchscreens, serial reaction task chambers, and shuttle boxes. Additional behavioral apparatus include measures of motor function, analgesia, behavioral despair, and fear conditioning. The labs are well-equipped for stereotaxic surgery, histology, light-microscopy and image analysis, intracranial infusion of drugs, neurochemistry and receptor binding studies, assessment of immune function, and stress-controllability programs.

Vision labs are equipped with a four-channel xenon-arc-based Maxwellian view optical system, a computer-based stereo Maxwellian view optical system, and a two-channel rear projection free-view optical system.

Cognitive labs consist of state-of-the-art computers and associated equipment, including eye-tracking technology. The cognitive neuroscience laboratory is equipped with a 64-channel ActiChamp EEG system.

Faculty Researchers

Sergios Charntikov: behavioral neuroscience & addiction
Brett Gibson: spatial & categorical learning & memory
Jill McGaughy: neurobiology & attention
William Wren Stine: stereopsis, motion and mathematical modeling
Omer Daglar Tanrikulu: visual perception

The Developmental Psychology program offers graduate students the opportunity to study social, emotional, cognitive and neuropsychological aspects of human development. Coursework and research in the department touches on development from infancy through old age, and encompasses both theoretical and applied perspectives. Students emerge from the program with a broad knowledge base in developmental psychology and familiarity with diverse methodologies.

Current faculty research interests include cultural and media influences on development, parenting, sexuality, social support, and memory development.

Faculty Researchers

Pablo Chavajay: cultural variations in cognitive development
Michelle Leichtman: autobiographical memory, suggestibility
Bolivar (Boli) Reyes-Jaquez: morality and social cognition development

The Social/Personality psychology program provides opportunities for graduate students to do research on many topics. Some graduate students work on research problems that are closely related to ongoing faculty research programs, while others develop their own research interests. Students draw on the expertise of the faculty in Developmental, Cognitive, and other areas of psychology within the department, and with faculty in other departments such as Sociology, in addition to the faculty whose primary identification is with Social/Personality Psychology.

Faculty Researchers

April Bailey: bias, gender, natural language processing
Ellen Cohn: law, rape/dating violence, race
John Mayer: systems framework, emotional intelligence
Jolie Wormwood: emotion, social perception, decision making

During both semesters of the third year of graduate study, each graduate student has full responsibility for teaching a small section of introductory psychology. The student enrolls simultaneously in the Seminar and Practicum in the Teaching of Psychology. In this setting students receive close supervision from a faculty member who is a specialist in teaching psychology, and they have opportunities to discuss the goals and problems of teaching and to profit from the experiences and suggestions of peers who are also teaching for the first time. Our practicum is a distinctive feature of our program, and it has received national recognition.

Some graduate students also choose to take special training for the Certification in College Teaching, through the UNH Teaching Excellence Program (see also Preparing Future Faculty).

Most graduate students also teach one or more courses in their area of specialization during their fourth or fifth year in the graduate program. This experience has been very valuable to our graduates when they seek jobs.

We guarantee funding (an assistantship that provides an academic year stipend, tuition, and health insurance) for five years as long as:

  1. the student continues to make timely progress through the program,
  2. our graduate program funding is not cut unexpectedly (this has not been an issue in the 50+ years of the program), and
  3. the student writes a Dissertation Year Fellowship application during their fourth year (this is required to guarantee the fifth year of funding).

You may wish to visit the Financial Aid section of the Graduate School website for more information about the types of aid available to graduate students.

Online Application

To apply to the Psychology Program, you must apply online through the Graduate School. Collect and submit all additional supporting materials in one packet, with the exception of the "Area of Interest Questionnaire," and send to the Graduate School, not to the Psychology Program.

Supporting materials should be sent to the Graduate School at:

UNH Graduate School
Thompson Hall
105 Main Street
Durham, NH 03824

Area of Interest Questionnaire

In addition to the the Graduate School application, please also fill out the Area of Interest Questionnaire. Once it is complete, please send the Questionnaire by email to Robin Scholefield at or by mail to:

Robin Scholefield
Psychology Department
468A McConnell Hall
Durham, NH 03824

Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the general Graduate School requirements, applicants must submit current scores (within five years) from the general test of the GRE. The UNH GRE code is 003918.  For more information about the GRE, please visit the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website. To be competitive for admission, applicants typically demonstrate sufficient academic background in psychology to undertake doctoral level work in one or more of the areas of specialization represented in the program. 


There is no formal application deadline.  Review of applications begins January 15 and continues until the incoming class is filled. Fall semester admission only.

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