Feb 26, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Psychology - Experimental Psychology, (PhD)

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MS/PhD Degree Program

There are three broad programs within the MS/PhD degree program: Clinical Psychology (APA accredited), School Psychology (APA accredited), and Experimental Psychology. Across these doctoral programs, faculty and students participate in five research areas: Clinical Health Psychology; Behavioral Neuroscience; Child and Family Studies; Cognitive Psychology; and Psychotherapy Research. Students interested in other areas should contact the department for further information.

In each of these programs, the MS is preparatory to continuation in the program. In order to be advanced to doctoral study, a student must have satisfactorily completed all requirements for the MS (including a thesis that is empirical and psychological) at The University of Memphis, or have completed an equivalent degree, with empirical thesis, from another institution. Students possessing a master’s degree without a thesis will be required to complete a thesis before being advanced to doctoral study.

Across the MS/PhD degree programs, the general training objectives are: (1) understanding of theoretical principles and practices of psychology; (2) development of expertise in experimental design, data analysis, and oral and written presentation of research results; and (3) being competitive for professional positions in psychology.

Program Admission and Prerequisites

Applications for each of the MS/PhD degree programs are reviewed once each year for admission in the following Fall semester. Applications for Spring admission are not considered. All application information must have been received by December 5 for an applicant to be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program in Clinical Psychology, by January 15 for an applicant to be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program in Experimental Psychology, and by December 15 for an applicant to be considered for admission to the MS/PhD program in the MS/PhD program in School Psychology. The following items are required for admission:

  1. A completed Departmental application form and completed University application form.
  2. A grade point average of at least 2.75/4.0 in all undergraduate course work. Applicants with undergraduate records at this minimum level are not ordinarily admitted. An official transcript of all undergraduate and graduate coursework must be sent.
  3. A minimum of 18 semester hours in undergraduate psychology courses, including courses in Quantitative Methods (Psychological Statistics) and Experimental Design. Students lacking some or all of these prerequisite courses, but presenting an exceptional undergraduate record, may nevertheless be granted graduate admission. However, students may be asked to remove such deficiencies before or during their first academic year.
  4. GRE scores (Verbal, Quantitative, and Written Analytical).
  5. Letters of recommendation from at least three persons familiar with the applicant’s academic background and aptitude for graduate work in psychology, specifying in detail the applicant’s capabilities for graduate study and for future performance as a psychologist.
  6. An essay of approximately 1200 words indicating the specific graduate program being applied to, and describing the applicant’s prior research and applied experience, current research and applied interests, and career goals. Prior research involvement is weighted heavily.
  7. A willingness to be interviewed in person or by phone by members of the department faculty, should that be requested.

Program Requirements

Credit Hours:

A minimum of 33 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the MS degree in Psychology, and a minimum of 80 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the PhD degree in Psychology. All work for graduate credit must be approved by, and must be completed at a level of performance satisfactory to the graduate faculty of the department. Students also may take coursework for degree credit outside the department with program approval.

Transfer Credit:

Students with graduate credits earned at another institution, upon matriculation at The University of Memphis, may petition to have these credits applied toward the total number of hours required to earn their degree at The University of Memphis and to use transfer credits as substitutes for specific courses required for the degree. Decisions about such substitutions are made by the psychology department Graduate Coordinator. The number of transfer credits accepted as substitutions for specific courses varies by degree program. Substitutions are not granted for any of the Clinical Psychology program’s core curriculum.


MS/ PhD degree candidates are expected to carry a minimum of 9 credits per semester and to devote full time during their enrollment to pursuit of degree-related activities.


All MS/PhD degree students are expected to be active in research collaboratively with members of the department faculty each semester they are enrolled.

Master’s Thesis and Comprehensive Examination:

Each PhD student is expected to complete an independent research project, culminating in a master’s thesis. The thesis is intended to be a demonstration of the student’s ability to plan, organize, conduct, and report a research/scholarly project. Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before beginning to write. Only 3 hours of thesis credit (PSYC 7996 ) can count toward the degree. Upon completion of the thesis, the student takes an oral examination that assesses not only mastery of the thesis topic but also broader awareness of the theoretical and empirical issues in contemporary psychology. This oral examination serves as the MS comprehensive examination.

Second Milestone Project:

After completing the requirements of the master’s thesis, all PhD students will complete a second milestone, usually in the third year of graduate work, which varies by graduate program in Psychology. Students in the Experimental Psychology PhD program can satisfy this requirement with a (a) a Specialty Examination;(b) a Major Area Paper (MAP); (c) a grant proposal with the student as Principal Investigator submitted for review; or (d) an empirical manuscript submitted for publication. All alternatives require committees (three faculty members), proposal defenses, and final defenses.

Comprehensive Educational Requirements:

All MS/PhD students are required to complete

All MS/PhD students are required to complete PSYC 7301 /PSYC 8301 , and PSYC 7302 /PSYC 8302  during the first two years. With permission of the Major Professor and Graduate Coordinator, students may substitute PSYC 7303 /PSYC 8303  for PSYC 7302 /PSYC 8302  as their required course. Clinical Psychology and School Psychology MS/PhD students are required to complete PSYC 7000 /PSYC 8000 . Also, for both semesters in the first year, all MS/PhD students must attend weekly colloquium series to acquaint them with issues of research and professional ethics and professional opportunities in the department and in the discipline.

Must complete at least one course in each of the following areas

All MS/PhD students must complete at least one course in each of the following areas (or a substituted course approved by the student’s major professor and the Graduate Coordinator). Restrictions for Clinical and School Psychology students exist.

Dissertation and Final Examination:

The dissertation is viewed as the capstone of the student’s academic training, reflecting the student’s capacity for independent research. Dissertation credit hours (PSYC 9000 ) must be taken for a minimum of 6 hours and can be taken for a maximum of 9 credit hours. Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before beginning to write. Upon completion of an independent written dissertation research project acceptable to the faculty, each student will take a final oral examination oriented toward, but not exclusively on, the student’s dissertation research and major area of specialization.

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