Doctoral Program in Social Psychology
Department of Psychology
The social psychology program at New York University offers training in the psychological theories, principles, and research methods relevant to understanding the behavior of individuals and groups in social and organizational contexts. Students are exposed to a broad range of scholarship in social psychology, and receive research training that will enable them to become independent contributors to the field. What distinguishes our program from many others is the combination of quality and breadth. With twelve core faculty and a number of affiliated faculty, our program is acclaimed for its cutting-edge research on a wide range of topics in the following areas:
Social cognition and attitudes: Person perception and social judgment (Emily Balcetis, Yaacov Trope, Jim Uleman, Jay Van Bavel, Tessa West); relational processes, inferences about self and other (Susan Andersen, Emily Balcetis); spontaneous trait inference, culture and social cognition (Jim Uleman), implicit/explicit attitudes, stereotypes, and prejudice (David Amodio, Liz Phelps); political ideology (John Jost); developmental social cognition and social categorization (Marjorie Rhodes)
Motivation, emotion, and self-regulation: Action control and goal pursuit (Peter Gollwitzer); self-regulation of thought and action (Gabriele Oettingen, Jim Uleman); motivation and cognition (Emily Balcetis, Jay Van Bavel, Yaacov Trope); motivation and visual perception (Emily Balcetis); intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Tom Tyler); system justification (John Jost), roles of emotion and motivation in self-regulation (David Amodio, Emily Balcetis), affect in the relational context (Susan Andersen), affective neuroscience (Liz Phelps).
Relationships, personality, and social development: Significant others and the self, social cognition and personality, hopelessness/depression (Susan Andersen); relationships, stress, and coping and methods for studying these processes (Patrick Shrout), attitudes and relationship formation (Tessa West); social cognitive development (Marjorie Rhodes).
Groups, organizations, and societies: Stereotyping and prejudice in the workplace (Madeline Heilman); interracial groups (Tessa West); and social justice (Tom Tyler, John Jost).
In addition, there is a burgeoning interest and presence in Social Neuroscience. In this growing field, research within the Program examines: the neural mechanisms underlying activation and control of racial bias; interactions with hormones and health (David Amodio); social effects on neural processes of fear learning (Liz Phelps); neural processes underlying impression formation (Jim Uleman with Liz Phelps and Lila Davachi) and the neural substrates of social perception and evaluation (Jay Van Bavel). Several other faculty members in the Program collaborate on various other social neuroscience projects, and the Psychology Department hosts a Social Neuroscience Speaker Series. The Psychology Building houses facilities for fMRI, EEG/ERP, TMS, eye-tracking, and other psychophysiological methods.
Graduate study in the social psychology program at NYU means being part of an unusually active research culture. We share well equipped laboratories, and we promote 'open door' relationships between professors and students. Although students typically have a primary home in one professor's laboratory, we require that students work in at least one other laboratory to promote breadth of training in a variety of methodological approaches and research issues. Our goal is to prepare students to be highly competitive in the job market for the type of career they seek, and we are proud of the steady success of our students over the past 15 years in obtaining academic positions at the best research universities as well as important teaching colleges.
The NYU social program has a history of a special communal, cooperative spirit, with very high morale among the students. A core component of this community is the weekly brownbag seminar, where students and faculty share their recent findings and research plans with the rest of the group. Students can bring this forum special expertise that they obtain in NYU’s programs in quantitative, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology, which supplement the core curriculum in social psychology.
A total of 72 credits are required for the PhD degree. Credits are earned through coursework, research seminars and independent study over a five year period. A minimum of 24 credits must be earned through coursework with grades of B or higher. Typically, students register for 9-12 credits (either course or research credits), with the central coursework in the first 2 years of study. The minimum number of credits a student can take in a semester is 6.
Required Distribution of Courses
Students are required to take three doctoral social psychology courses, and these should span at least two the four core areas of the program: (1) social cognition; (2) motivation and self-regulation; (3) relationships, personality and social development; and (4) organizational processes
In addition to courses in these prescribed areas of social psychology, students are required to take two additional content courses. To ensure a broad exposure to psychology and other related fields, students are encouraged to take at least one of these courses outside of the NYU social program. This course can be in another area within the psychology department (those offered in Cognition & Perception); in another Department, such as Economics, Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science, or Neural Science in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, or at the Stern School of Business (e.g., in Organizational Behavior) or the Steinhardt School of Education (e.g., in Applied Psychology); or elsewhere (e.g. through the Inter-university Doctoral Consortium).
Students are also required to take a three-course methods and statistics sequence including Research Methods I, and the statistics courses of Intermediate Statistics and Advanced Statistics (either ANOVA or Regression). Although not required, many students take additional statistics and methods courses as electives. Possible courses include Psychometric Theory, Structural Equation Modeling, Analysis of Change and Research Methods II.
Other than through coursework, the remaining points may be earned through a combination of reading courses (G89.3305/3306), pre-dissertation research courses (G89.3303/3304), or dissertation research courses (for those who have passed their proposal hearing: G89.3301/3302). No more than 12 points may be taken in each of the last three categories.
Each student’s program of study must receive the approval of his/her adviser each semester. The faculty adviser is the primary research mentor for the student. If a student is working jointly with two faculty members, one faculty member should be asked to serve the role of academic adviser. Students are also encouraged to seek advice from the program coordinator about courses and program degree requirements. The Departmental Academic Affairs Coordinator is available to help advise on GSAS degree requirements.
Brown Bag Seminar
Second Year Paper
Third Year Paper
The Third Year Paper Committee: (a) is appointed by the program; (b) implements this program requirement; (c) evaluates and approves or disapproves paper proposals; (c) assigns readers for each completed paper based on faculty expertise (one of whom may be the student’s research adviser).
Students should bear in mind that the dissertation is expected to be a major piece of independent research by the candidate. Although interaction between the candidate and his/her dissertation committee is expected and desirable, the student takes the lead on this research and the committee serves mainly in an advisory and evaluative capacity. The dissertation should be submitted by the end of the 5th Year. After the dissertation has been completed, it must be defended in an oral examination before the three-member dissertation committee supplemented by two additional committee members designated as readers. Students typically register for two semesters (6 points) of dissertation credit during their fifth year of doctoral study while conducting their dissertation research and writing their dissertation.
For more information about the dissertation process, see the Psychology Department’s document, Dissertation and Graduation Procedures for Doctoral Students.
Graduate students at NYU have the opportunity to take appointments as adjunct faculty in psychology courses. One kind of adjunct appointment involves assisting a faculty member with his/her instructional activities. Teaching provides valuable experience in presenting ideas to others, and forms an integral part of doctoral education in preparation for future academic jobs. The Social Program asks that students acquire teaching experience for at least two undergraduate or graduate psychology courses during the first five years of study. Because teaching obligations may compete with research obligations, the Program advises students to limit the teaching commitments during the academic year to five or fewer experiences.
In their first two years, students focus on mentored research projects and coursework. Over this period they complete their eight required courses. With the exception of research methods and two statistics courses, all of which must be taken in the first two semesters, students are free to fulfill their course requirements in any order they wish, typically enrolling in three courses a semester.
During the second year, students work on the Second Year Paper, and during the third year they work on the Third Year Paper (see above)
Students spend their third, fourth and fifth years taking additional coursework, as desired, and focusing primarily on their research activities, culminating in their doctoral dissertation research.
At the end of the first semester of their third year, they also propose their Third Year Paper (an integrative literature that combines differing literatures and addresses a coherent set of theoretical questions), which is then due in final form the first week of September of the fourth year.
Students should aim to prepare and defend their dissertation proposal not later than the end of their 4th year, and to complete their dissertation toward the end of their 5th year.
Students who are making adequate progress toward their degree requirements are guaranteed full financial support for five years of doctoral study.
General Requirements for the Doctorate at NYU
The graduate school of Arts and Science home page provides information about transfer credits and other general requirements for the doctorate at NYU. It is expected that students will fulfill the course requirements, complete the doctoral research and defend the thesis within five years.
Keeping Track of Progress Toward Requirements
Each spring the Social Program Faculty meet to review the progress of the doctoral students in the program. In preparation for this meeting, students are asked to provide updated CVs and reports of research activities. With input from the faculty members, the Coordinator provides each student with written feedback about the review. If a student would like to request special consideration of research or academic requirements, this is an excellent time to make the request. In some cases a requirement will be waived if a compelling case can be made.
Courses in the four core areas of doctoral social psychology vary from year to year, but the following list provides examples of courses that have been taught in each of the categories since 2008 or that are planned for 2010 or 2011
Social Cognition and Attitudes
Motivation and Self-Regulation
Relationships, Personality and Social Development
Groups, organizations, and societies
Example of Advanced Electives
Methods and Statistics Courses
NYU SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY FACULTY
David Amodio, Susan Andersen, Emily Balcetis, Peter Gollwitzer, Madeline Heilman, John Jost, Gabriele Oettingen, Elizabeth Phelps (primary appointment in C&P), Marjorie Rhodes (primary appointment in C&P), Diane Ruble (Emeritus), Patrick Shrout, Yaacov Trope, Tom Tyler, Jay Van Bavel, Jim Uleman, Tessa West
Social Program, NYU