The University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences


Student Discussion in Classroom

The PhD in Psychological Sciences degree program offers advanced study and research training for students seeking to become leading scientists and scholars in the field. Research in psychological sciences encompasses studies of mental processes and behavior across the lifespan, including investigations of cognitive and social-emotional development, relationships, and personality.

From the start of their training, doctoral students in psychological sciences work in research laboratories with faculty mentors. The program is particularly strong in the field of developmental psychology, spanning topics in children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and language growth. Another area of strength is cognitive psychology, including topics in traditional cognitive psychology such as attention, motivation, learning and memory, as well as cognitive neuroscience. A third area of strength lies in social and personality psychology, including the formation and evolution of interpersonal relationships between romantic partners and friends.

Doctoral students in psychological sciences benefit from the rich intellectual climate at the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), including weekly lectures and research presentations by students, faculty, and visiting scholars. The school hosts an annual colloquium series presented by internationally known scientists, and its four research centers periodically offer symposia and workshops that are freely available to doctoral students. Doctoral students receive funding support for presenting their research at professional meetings and conducting their dissertation research. Finally, doctoral students are provided with a variety of other professional development experiences, including opportunities to develop their teaching skills.

Primary Faculty and Research Areas

Herve Abdi Memory and cognition, quantitative models, neuroimaging, genomics

Robert A. Ackerman Narcissism, relationship development, and models for dyadic data.

Chandramallika Basak Attentional control and working memory, cognitive training strategies, neural and cognitive predictors of complex skill acquisition, and aging

W. Jay Dowling Music cognition, including encoding melodies into memory, tracking motion in tonal space, and the origins of emotional responses to music.

Francesca M. Filbey Neurobiological mechanisms underlying reward-motivation

Shayla C. Holub Family influences on childhood obesity and health; parental feeding practices and parenting; weight prejudice and body image

Heidi S. Kane The associations between close relationships and health; stress, coping and social support processes in couples

Kristen M. Kennedy Normal aging of human brain structure and function (using neuroimaging tools) and their cognitive consequences (using neuropsychological/cognitive assessments); health, lifestyle and genetic modifiers of these age-related changes in brain and cognition.

Daniel C. Krawczyk Reasoning, Decision Making, Cognitive Biases, and Executive Functions. Methods include cognitive measures, brain stimulation, and brain imaging. Cognitive interests in context effects on decision making and decision framing effects. Clinical interest in the cognitive effects of traumatic brain injuries.

Mandy J. Maguire Studying how factors such as family socioeconomic status (SES) and bilingualism influence brain and language development using EEG.

Candice M. Mills Cognitive development; social cognition; critical thinking; explanation and understanding; selective trust, science learning.

Jackie A. Nelson Emotion-related family processes, such as parents’ emotion socialization strategies, children’s social-emotional development, and family stress and conflict.

Alice J. O'Toole Face recognition by humans and machines. Neural processing of faces and bodies.

Margaret T. Owen Trajectories of self-regulation development and relations to school readiness and achievement in low-income ethnic minority children. Parent-child relationships and other important developmental contexts.

Jiyoung Park Emotional processing and its consequences on health and well-being; Cultural modulation of emotional processing; Cultural and affective neuroscience

Amy E. Pinkham The characteristics, neural basis, and behavioral consequences of social cognitive impairment in schizophrenia.

Karen J. Prager Intimacy development, marital relations, and depression

Karen M. Rodrigue Understanding factors that contribute to individual differences in brain and cognitive aging over the lifespan, utilizing neuropsychology assessment, structural and functional MRI and PET imaging techniques

Michael D. Rugg Cognitive neuroscience of human memory; effects of age and neuropathology on episodic memory

John W. Santrock Family processes and children’s socioemotional development.

Noah J. Sasson Specifying cognitive processes in autism that underlie difficulties navigating the social world.

Melanie J. Spence Young infants’ processing of vocal and facial emotions; infants’ eye-tracking of faces and infant-directed speech


The BBS offices and research facilities are located on the Richardson campus and in centers located in Dallas near the campus of the UT Southwestern Medical Center. Facilities at all locations include classrooms and research laboratories for studies of neuroscience, psychology, and communication across the lifespan in both typical and clinical populations.

The PhD program in psychological sciences offers exceptional research facilities on the Richardson campus, including state-of-the-art laboratories equipped for studies of event-related potentials, eye tracking, infant visual and auditory preferences, child learning and development, parent-child interactions, and adult interpersonal relationships. In addition, the school’s Center for Children and Families, housed at the Callier Center-Richardson location, offers an array of clinical and community outreach activities organized around three main initiatives: promoting healthy families, strengthening interpersonal relationships, and enhancing children’s thinking and learning. Partnerships with area hospitals, clinics, agencies and schools further expand student research opportunities.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program in psychological sciences requires a minimum of 75 semester credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree. Students declare a concentration in developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, or social/personality psychology. Students are expected to complete the program coursework and research requirements in four to five years. The research requirements include a qualifying thesis research project and a dissertation research project. Students work collaboratively with their faculty mentor and committee to successfully complete both projects.

The UT Dallas graduate catalog provides information on degree requirements for the PhD in psychological sciences. For updates please contact [email protected]. The university’s course look-up site, CourseBook, describes some of the program’s specific courses. The Office of Graduate Studies provides information on academic and other policies.


The psychological sciences admissions committee evaluates applications according to a variety of criteria, including prior GPA, letters of recommendation, quantitative and verbal scores for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), and a close examination of the statement of purpose. Admission is contingent on a match between the research interests of the applicant and faculty. Applicants are strongly encouraged to identify faculty with similar research interests and to contact them about current opportunities for admission.

Typically, applicants have an average undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above, and completion of an undergraduate degree in a related major is advisable. Completion of a master’s degree is not required. Applicants without a prior degree in psychology should contact the program head for prerequisite coursework.

Applications to the PhD program must include official transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of reference from people qualified to evaluate your potential for successful doctoral study, and a statement of purpose detailing your previous research and professional experiences, your current research interests, and your career goals. The statement of purpose is an extremely important part of your application.

International applicants must provide proof of English proficiency via TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE meeting University minimum requirements.

To Submit an Application

Please see the enrollment page of the UT Dallas Office of Graduate Admissions for details on how to submit an application to the PhD program in psychological sciences.

Completed applications must be received on or before December 1 for admission the following fall. There are no spring or summer admissions.

You can check the status of your application using the university’s Orion program.

Questions about the application process can be directed to:

Psychological Sciences Doctoral Program
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Rd., GR41
Richardson, TX 75080
[email protected]

Financial Aid

Financial support of full-time doctoral students in psychological sciences is awarded through teaching or research assistantship stipends and tuition scholarships. Admitted students are automatically considered for teaching and research assistant positions.

Other information on financial aid for graduate students is available on the UT Dallas graduate admissions page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Program Contacts

Program Coordinator

Kim Cosner
Office: JO 4.310
Phone: 972-883-2697
[email protected]

For Additional Program Information

Psychological Sciences Doctoral Program
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Rd., GR41
Richardson, TX 75080
[email protected]

PhD Student Guide

The PhD student guide provides information on policies and procedures in the PhD programs in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Program Resources

Please visit the Office of Graduate studies for additional information on academic policies, PhD deadlines, PhD forms, guidelines for preparing dissertations, and a profile of characteristics of doctoral programs at UT Dallas.

Student Achievement Data

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