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Social - Program Training

Information about Graduate Training

The graduate training program in social psychology at Purdue consists of exposure to all areas of social psychology. All graduate students obtain extensive training in research. Within this framework, a great deal of flexibility exists with respect to the specific courses and specific areas of research pursued. Students are closely supervised by a major professor who works with the student to help ensure that research goals are met. Beyond research, each student will be encouraged to teach undergraduates at some point in their graduate career in order to gain practical experience in teaching methods.

Program Requirements

Area and Departmental Course Work:

One component of graduate training at Purdue is course work. Each social psychology graduate student takes the following courses. These courses are ordinarily taken in the first year and should be completed by the end of the student's second year:

Specific Social Area Requirements:

  • PSY 64000: Survey of Social Psychology
  • PSY 64600M: Research Methods

Students must also take both of the following courses at least once for a grade, and for a total of at least three additional semesters on a pass/fail basis:

  • PSY 64600: Current Readings in Social Psychology (“Journal Club”)
  • PSY 69200: Current Research in Social Psychology (“Brownbag”)

Students must also take at least two courses from the following list:

  • PSY 64300: Attitudes and Attitude Change
  • PSY 64400: Close Relationships
  • PSY 64500: Social Cognition
  • PSY 64600: Stereotyping and Prejudice
  • PSY 64700: Group Processes and Social Influence

Students must also take 2 additional social courses or seminars (which may include those in the above list).

Departmental Course Work:

Each student is required to satisfy the following departmental course requirements:

1. Students must take at least two statistics courses, for a total of at least six credits. The social faculty recommend that students enroll in PSY 646W “Statistical Approaches to Social Psychology Data” followed by PSY 63100.

2. Students are required to complete three additional graduate courses outside of their major area of concentration, for a total of nine credits. These courses are in addition to any courses required by their major area. At least two of these three courses must be graduate courses offered within the Department listed in Appendix B of the Graduate Handbook. One of these courses may be from outside of the Department (e.g., an Interdisciplinary Neuroscience course, a CDFS course, a Sociology course). These three courses must be approved by a student's Ph.D. Advisory Committee, as indicated by approval of the student's Ph.D. Plan of Study.

Only courses for which "A" or "B" grades are earned are acceptable in fulfilling area and departmental requirements. Students are expected to repeat any required courses in which they receive a grade of "C" or lower.

Major Professor and Committee:

Graduate students are admitted to the program to work with a specific faculty member, who serves as the student's research advisor (called the "major professor"). Upon arriving at Purdue, each student is expected to become acquainted with their major professor as well as with all members of the social faculty. The first semester course "Survey of Social Psychology" (PSY 64000), taught by all area faculty, is designed to facilitate this process. Students are encouraged to work with faculty beyond their major professor during their time in the program, as this provides valuable additional research experience.

In cooperation with the major professor, the student should select a committee for work on the M.S. and the Ph.D. degrees. Three committee members are required for supervision of work leading to the M.S. degree, with at least two from the social faculty. Four committee members (including at least three from the social faculty) are required for work toward the Ph.D. degree. The committee will supervise the student's progress, advise the student on the thesis and dissertation research, and evaluate the student's performances.

Preliminary Examination:

All students are required to take a Preliminary Examination. This exam is generally taken in August prior to the beginning of the third year of graduate training.

See the Graduate Handbook for more specific information about the preliminary examination.

Oral Examinations:

Oral examinations for the M.S., Preliminary Exam, and Ph.D. are held by the student's respective committees upon satisfactory completion of these works. These examinations are specifically concerned with the student's research and with related work reported in the psychological literature.

General Time-line for Training, by Year:

First Year:

* Orientation into the program
* Course work
* Research courses and/or research experience
* Selection of master's committee members and file master's plan of study

Second year:

* Completion of master's requirements: collect data, write thesis, take oral exam
* Additional course work (e.g., departmental core requirements, social core courses)
* Begin preparing for preliminary exam

Third year:

Complete preliminary exam
* File doctoral plan of study early in year
* Independent teaching experience, if desired
* All requirements except the dissertation should be completed by the end of this year

Fourth and Fifth years:

* Dissertation proposal, research, and final oral examination
* Job-hunting only when everything but dissertation is completed

* Although completion of the graduate program in four years is possible, most students take five years. A five-year program generally allows students to conduct more research and, therefore, yields a stronger set of credentials for obtaining an academic position at the end of the program. Some students take six years to complete the program. Note, however, that departmental funding is not guaranteed beyond five years for students who are in good standing in the department. That said, every effort is made to obtain funding for those students in good standing who do remain for a sixth year. No student will be funded by the department beyond their sixth year in the program.

Suggested Course Work Sequence :


First Semester

Second Semester

Year 1

PSY 64000: Survey of Social Psychology

Any Social Core or Seminar

PSY 64600: Current Readings

PSY 69200: Current Research

PSY 64600: Stat Approaches to Soc Psych Data

PSY 64600: Research Methods

Any Social Core or Seminar

PSY 64600: Current Readings

PSY 69200: Current Research

PSY 63100: Regression


Year 2

Any Social Core or Seminar

PSY 64600: Current Readings

PSY 69200: Current Research

Departmental Course

Research Hours (3 credits)

Any Social Core or Seminar

PSY 64600: Current Readings

PSY 69200: Current Research

Departmental Course

Research Hours (3 credits)




Prelim Exam

Taken during the month prior

to the start of fall classes



Year 3

Departmental Course

Research Hours

Research Hours


Year 4 & 5

Research Hours

Research Hours