The individualized graduate training track option is designed to meet the needs of students whose interests cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. This option may be especially appropriate for students with strong interdisciplinary interests that bridge multiple faculty or research domains within the department. 

In consultation with faculty mentors, students design an individualized course of study that provides the necessary background and expertise for them to succeed. Students can choose the individualized training track before or after admission to the PhD program.

The Program

All faculty mentors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences can supervise PhD students through the individualized graduate training track. Upon entering the program, students form a research advisory committee that consists of the faculty mentor and two other faculty members with relevant expertise.

The research advisory committee meets with the student at least once a semester until the student has formed a comprehensive exam committee. In consultation with the research advisory committee, students develop a coursework plan that at minimum includes two statistics courses and four other courses.

Students may also elect to take additional courses that are especially relevant to their research goals. In addition to coursework, all students in the PhD program must complete a first-year project, which they present at the departmental graduate research symposium during their second year. All students also complete the comprehensive exam, which can be designed based on any of the available comprehensive exam models in the department. All students must also complete and defend a doctoral dissertation.

The individualized track may also meet the needs of students interested in experimental psychopathology without wanting to enter the Clinical Science (CS) program. This means that the student would not engage in supervised clinical work (applied practica) or the year-long clinical internship that the CS program requires. Thus, although such students would not be able to engage in clinical practice or be clinically licensed, the students would receive excellent training in experimental psychopathology as a platform for a future research career in this domain. Students who are interested in this type of individualized track training in experimental psychopathology can view an example curriculum below. If you would like more information on the differences between this individualized track approach and the traditional CS training, please contact Dr. Anne Zhang (


Example of coursework for an Individualized Track student studying experimental psychopathology:

  • First Year:
    • Fall:
      • Descriptive Psychopathology
      • Quantitative Methods in Psychology
    • Spring:
      • Principles of Psychological Assessment
      • Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Models OR Theory Linear/Generalized Linear Models
  • Second Year:
    • Fall
      • Psychological Therapies
      • Longitudinal Data Analysis OR Mixed Effects Modeling
  • Possible elective courses, depending on research interests, include but are not limited to:
    • Foundations in Cognitive Neuroscience
    • Psychosis
    • Programming for Psychologists

Want to learn more?

Regardless of which training program you may be considering, we strongly encourage you to visit the faculty members' websites and to contact the individual faculty members whose work interests you.