University of Pittsburgh

Graduate Studies

Why Pittsburgh?


The University of Pittsburgh, founded in 1787, is widely renowned for its high-quality programs in the sciences, humanities, and professional fields. The university is centrally located in Pittsburgh, which has earned accolades as a top 20 world travel destination, leader in green infrastructure, and most livable city in the U.S.



What is our training mission?


We prepare students for scientific and academic careers emphasizing research and teaching.  We offer a rich and dynamic intellectual community with outstanding opportunities to study behavior at multiple ages, using state-of-the-art methods and varying levels of analysis.  We place a high value on diversity, and we encourage applications from socially and economically underrepresented groups. Our training activities are organized into five core areas: Biological & Health, Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, and Social psychology. As described below, we also offer joint training programs, and flexible options for cross-training and individualized programs of study.



What makes us distinctive?


Our graduate students and faculty are highly accomplished. Our department is one of the very best in the country for Psychology doctoral training.  Our students are the recipients of numerous awards and are highly productive in research, averaging more than 6 publications during their graduate training.  After completing their degrees, our students typically move into faculty and postdoctoral positions at top-tier institutions throughout the country.      


  • We nurture multidisciplinary training and collaborative research. We structure our training requirements with the aim of eliminating barriers and encouraging collaborations across our core areas of study.  More than half of our students participate in some form of cross-training.  Popular options include our joint Clinical-Health and Clinical-Development training and our Cognitive Neuroscience Concentration.  In addition, informal opportunities for interdisciplinary training inside and outside the department are abundant.  An annual colloquium series featuring nationally known speakers exposes students to a broad range of cutting-edge research.


Students and faculty engage in both basic and applied research. Our department leads the way in integrating basic and applied perspectives within the field of psychology.  Our immersion in real-world problems enriches our theoretical work, and our theoretical work contributes to the understanding of real-world problems.


We have a collegial and supportive environment.  We use an apprenticeship training model, in which students engage in an increasingly independent program of research over the course of their training under the supervision of a primary research mentor.  At the same time, nearly 75% of our students participate in collaborative research with two or more faculty members during their training, and all students receive guidance from a faculty mentorship committee.  Program brown bags and journal clubs create intellectual communities in which faculty and students develop collegial ties with one another.


The Affect Analysis Group studies emotion and psychopathology in children and adults.


What are the training requirements in our department?


Each training program has primary responsibility for making decisions about their student admissions and training requirements, which are described in the handbooks available on the program web pages.  These program-specific requirements instantiate a set of shared departmental goals and standards for graduate training:


            • We train our students to carry out independent research of significant scientific merit.  We only offer programs that culminate in a Ph.D.  Training is structured by a set of major training milestones: a Master’s thesis, which reports an original research project led by the student, a Comprehensive Exam, which requires the student to do a scholarly and integrative literature review, and a Doctoral Dissertation, which represents a major research project developed and executed by the student. 


            • We provide our students with opportunities to develop as teachers and mentors. Students are required to serve as the primary instructor for at least one undergraduate course (under the mentorship of a faculty member) and to complete a teaching development course.  In addition, students often supervise undergraduates engaged in research and participate in evaluating undergraduate Honor’s theses.


            • We give our students the knowledge and skills needed to develop as creative and independent scholars.  Students must complete the course requirements for at least one training area within our department or complete an approved course of individualized study.  This coursework provides (a) a strong quantitative and methods foundation, (b) deep expertise in a particular area of study, and (c) a broad perspective on central issues in psychology and related disciplines.  Students in the APA-Accredited Clinical Psychology Program  complete additional requirements related to this training.


            • We promote excellent communication with our students.  Students meet frequently with their faculty mentors to discuss their academic plans and progress in relation to a departmental timeline that communicates faculty expectations.  In addition, students meet at least annually with a faculty mentoring committee. Students also contribute to departmental decision-making through involvement in various committees (e.g., faculty search committees, the Graduate Education Committee).


            • We financially support our students during their training.  Students receive an annual stipend for living expenses along with health care coverage, and they benefit from free public transportation.  Tuition expenses are also waived.  This financial support comes from a variety of sources, including research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships.