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Department of Psychology

Prospective Students

We are always looking for good graduate students who are excited about conducting basic psychological research.  It is highly advisable that prospective students contact faculty members with whom they would like to work before applying. You can find a list of faculty who are currently accepting students on our faculty page.

Admissions Criteria

Admission to our program is based on multiple factors including fit with faculty interests, scholastic achievement, prior research experience, stated research interests and the Graduate Record Exam scores. Generally, students have at least a 3.25 GPA and approximately 302 in the revised GRE test or 1100 in the older GRE (Verbal + Quantitative). Letters of recommendation, research experience, and personal statement are especially important. Applications completed by December 1st will be given priority for admission into the program in the Fall and for funding. GRE scores may be submitted by using the following school code: 5818.

You should apply online at the Graduate School of the University of South Carolina.  

Our Training Model

The Ph.D. program in Experimental Psychology encompasses neuroscience, cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, and quantitative psychology. Our program is fairly flexible. Students are required to take two basic method courses, one advanced quantitative methods course, one advanced area methods course, and ethics and professional development courses. After these required courses, the student in consultation with their advising committee then chooses elective courses and laboratory work that will facilitate their own research and career goals.  Other, more advanced classes and seminars on a variety of topics are also offered.  Many of graduate students take elective courses in other related disciplines such as linguistics and biomedical science.  In addition, some students whose area of emphasis is not quantitative psychology choose to pursue a secondary area of emphasis in quantitative psychology. Some students participate in the Biomedical-Behavioral Interface Program which is an NIH-funded graduate training program. 

Probably the most important aspect of our training is that students are engaged in research from their very first semester. We emphasize individual training both in and out of the laboratory and try to facilitate a student's career through publications and participation in scientific  meetings. The kind of research in which we provide training spans cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, quantitative psychology and cognitive neuroscience. For the specific details about the ongoing research, check out the faculty websites for descriptions of current research and lists of publications.

The training prepares experimental psychologists for research careers in academic, business or applied settings. There is also training to teach a broad range of psychology courses, if desired. About 60% of our Ph.D. students have gone on to academic positions and the remaining students are in positions in research settings like the National Institutes of Health or independent laboratories.

Learn more about the details of our program on the official Experimental Psychology Ph.D. graduate bulletin.


All students are admitted with financial support through a range of sources including department-funded teaching, instructional, or research assistantships and grant-funded assistantships. The minimum stipend for a 9-month assistantship for an incoming student is $18,250 for each academic year. Many students also teach courses during the academic year or summer as additional means of support. In addition to this, the department covers full tuition. The base stipend may be supplemented by graduate school scholarships for the nine-month period and summer funding from research grants. Health insurance is also available through the University.

The Experimental Program has been quite successful in maintaining financial support throughout a student's academic career. We have typically offered assistantships to students in the first 5 years in the program for the past 30 years. Similar funding is anticipated for future years.

A student who is not maintaining a "B" average or is not considered in good standing by the faculty is not eligible for Department administered assistantships.


Funding Sources

The Behavioral-Biomedical Interface Program (BBIP) offers supplemental funding for admitted students who are interested in integrated training in multiple laboratories throughout Epidemiology, Exercise Science, and Psychology.  Interested students must indicate their interest in the BBIP program by checking off the appropriate option on their application to the Experimental Program. Admission to BBIP is separate from admission to the Experimental Program.

The department has some funds available for the support of graduate student research. Most students use a combination of support from faculty and awards to help offset research costs, such as the dissertation.

The department has a student development fund established in honor of a prior student. The purpose of this fund is to help support the following: research conducted by the students; student's travel when presenting the student's own research at conferences; special educational opportunities; and publication costs for the student's published articles. The awards committee for this fund has prioritized the money to support the costs of student research projects. An application form is now available on-line.

The Graduate School awards a limited number of Summer Dissertation Fellowships to students in the final phases of completion of the dissertation, but the student must have no other support for that period of time to be eligible.

The Graduate School also awards several types of Trustee Fellowships to graduate students who exhibit excellence in graduate study. These awards typically range from $750 - $5000. 

The department has an endowed award used to support students over the summer while working to complete the dissertation. An announcement calling for applications for the award is made by e-mail each spring via the department's graduate student listserve.

The APA continues to sponsor a Minority Fellows Program for graduate students in psychology. These fellowships are multi-year stipends and are awarded competitively. The APA awards approximately 100 Student Travel Awards to enable students to travel to professional meetings to present their research. The deadline for application is early spring. The APA also makes Dissertation Research Awards of $500. Students make application at the time the prospectus is approved.

The department currently is receiving regular anonymous donations earmarked specifically for emergency loans to graduate student. Two loan categories have been established. "Short-term" loans will be made to students for a period not to exceed 60 days. "Long-term" loans will be made for periods exceeding 60 days. These loans will be made at a yearly interest rate of 4%. 

Several federal agencies maintain pre-doctoral fellowship programs to provide up to three years of support for students in training. The National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, and National Research Council have programs relevant to the interests of students in the Clinical-Community Program. Application for these funds involves the preparation of a training plan and research proposal.

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