What will I learn?

Graduate study in Psychology at Penn emphasizes scholarship and research accomplishment. The first-year program is divided between courses that introduce various areas of psychology and a focused research experience. A deep involvement in research continues throughout the graduate program, and is supplemented by participation in seminars, teaching, and general intellectual give-and-take. Students are admitted into the graduate program as a whole, not into specific subfields. Students and faculty are free to define their fields of interest. A high level of interaction between students and faculty helps generate both a shared set of interests in the theoretical, historical, and philosophical foundations of psychology and active collaboration in research projects.

The Graduate Group in Psychology is highly distinguished and represents a broad range of work in psychology and includes an APA-approved clinical program.

The Psychology Graduate Group offers a full-time Ph.D. program with curricular and research opportunities in a broad range of areas, including: sensation and perception, cognition, language, learning, motivation, motor control, psychopathology, judgments and decisions, and social processes. Biological, cultural, developmental, experimental, mathematical, and neuroscience approaches to these areas are used in teaching and research. The Graduate Group has an APA accredited clinical psychology PhD program, the purpose of which is to train research investigators, rather than training practicing clinicians. Psychology graduate students also participate in several NIH and NSF sponsored training programs, including those in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, language and communication science, complex scene perception, and visual science.

The Graduate Group requires 20 course units (one semester course equivalent) for the Ph.D. Degree. Up to 11 of the 20 course units may be research. At least 12 units must be completed at the University of Pennsylvania; eight, at most, can be transferred from other institutions. Decisions about transfer credits are made by the Graduate Group Chair.

The Department does not have a Master's program and does not give any special recognition to a Master's Degree from other institutions. It will not admit a student who wants only a Master's Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. However, since such a degree may be useful to a student who is seeking summer work elsewhere or who finds it necessary to withdraw from the Department's Ph.D. program, students may apply for a Master's Degree after they have completed the first-year program at a Master's level.

Most students audit additional courses once they have met their course requirements. The main constraint on the time taken to complete the Ph.D. in recent years is not the course requirements but rather the highly competitive academic job market. Students feel that they need to have completed substantial research in order to compete for desirable positions. Accordingly, requirements have recently been changed so that students can more easily carry out a research program without interruption from their first semester through their thesis.

Which department am I in?

College of Arts and Sciences

Study options

Full Time (20 course units)

Tuition fees
US$34,882.00 per year
Start date

27 August 2019, 1 September 2020


College of Arts and Sciences

120 Claudia Cohen Hall,

249 South 36th Street,



19104, United States

Entry requirements

For international students

Applicants for master’s and doctoral programs must have obtained a bachelor’s degree from an accredited School or University prior to intended matriculation date.

Find your nearest IELTS test centre and test dates

There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.