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Graduate Program

If you need assistance or accommodations throughout the application and admissions process, please reach out to us by emailing the Director of Graduate Studies, Ryan LaLumiere (, or calling the department office at 319-335-2406.

Important message regarding the GRE: Beginning with applications in Fall 2020, the GRE is not required and should not be submitted. 

Overview of the Graduate Program

The graduate program in Psychological and Brain Sciences is designed for students seeking a doctorate in psychology. The program prepares students for careers in research, teaching, and related scholarly endeavors in academic, industrial, governmental, or medical settings. The department prioritizes creation of a diverse and inclusive faculty and student body that enhances representation across race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and first-generation status. We believe that diversity is essential to our mission of advancing innovative research in psychological science and cultivating an inclusive departmental culture.

Our intent is to produce graduates who are deeply committed to the study of psychology, firmly grounded in psychological theory and research, and well trained in the advanced methods and techniques that are used in the field today. We believe that the best way to accomplish these goals is to adopt a student-centered approach to graduate training, which allows students to create tailored programs of study best suited to their research interests and career goals. We also use an apprentice-based model of graduate training in which students work under the guidance of a faculty mentor and a Research Advisory Committee. This combination of flexibility and guidance provides the support necessary for students to quickly engage in the research process as they work toward independent careers. 

Faculty in the program are strongly committed to diversifying psychology by recruiting and training graduate students from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in psychological science, including Black and Indigenous students, Latinx students, sexual and gender minority students, and first-generation college students. The Department supports a number of committees and programs that are specifically intended to support minority and first-generation students, including: the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee composed of faculty, staff, and students; the Bridging the Gap in Psyience (BGP) program, designed to provide a safe, inclusive, and collaborative space for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) graduate and postdoctoral students; and the Our Collective Brains (OCB) program, designed specifically to support first-generation and underrepresented undergraduate students.

The graduate program also has close ties with the Behavioral-Biomedical Interface Training Program (BBIP), an NIH-funded interdisciplinary research training program that provides behaviorally oriented scientists with opportunities to incorporate biomedical methodologies into their research. The BBIP program also provides opportunites for graduate students from diverse backgrounds to apply for funding.

When applying to our PhD program, we ask prospective applicants to list their primary research interests and identify potential mentors. We have a variety of research groups in the department that are made up of overlapping sets of faculty with shared interests in particular areas, including Behavioral & Cognitive NeuroscienceClinical ScienceCognition, Cognitive ControlDevelopmental Psychopathology, Developmental Science, Health PsychologySocial Psychology, and Visual Perception. Prospective applicants can read about these groups and identify potential mentors in the program. We encourage applicants to reach out to individual faculty members to inquire about whether they plan to accept students this year and to learn more about the research currently ongoing in their labs. 

Several of these research groups also serve as broad training tracks that provide curricular frameworks. Specialized graduate training aligned with a specific research group can be pursued through any of these broad graduate training areas or through our Individualized Graduate Training Track. The current training tracks are listed below: