The Department of Psychology offers two graduate degrees: the PhD in Psychology and the MS in Psychology. Study is available in the following concentrations, which we refer to as programs.

PhD in Psychology (includes earning the MS)

  • Clinical Psychology program (accredited by the American Psychological Association)
  • Health Psychology program
  • Neuroscience program1

MS in Psychology

  • Terminal Health Psychology program.

Please note that the Department of Biological Sciences and several other departments also offer opportunities for doctoral study in neuroscience.

All programs train students in the facts, methodologies, and theories of psychology, with special emphasis on developing research competence. The department has well-equipped laboratories and an on-campus training clinic. The city of Milwaukee provides additional opportunities for training at hospitals, social service agencies, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Note that all of the department’s doctoral programs are actually combined MS/PhD programs, although students who already have a master’s degree in psychology or neuroscience are also encouraged to apply. If admitted, they will not be required to earn the MS at UWM if their master’s degree included an empirically based thesis.

Transfer from a PhD program to any another PhD program in our department requires reapplication.

Although it is possible for the academic portion of the doctoral program to be completed in four years, most students require five or more years. Doctoral students are expected to be enrolled full time and to earn their PhDs within seven years of initial enrollment, exclusive of the one-year internship required in the clinical program.

Students seeking only master’s-level training may apply to the health psychology specialization. It is possible to complete requirements for the MS in two or three years of full-time study. Part-time study is allowable, as long as the MS is earned within seven years of enrolling.

The department refers students interested in Counseling Psychology or School Psychology to the Department of Educational Psychology.

Admission Requirements

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


Application must be made to the Graduate School.

Applicants are admitted only at the beginning of each academic year. Applications must be submitted by December 1. Important: It is essential to consult the department’s website for important information, including the departmental admissions brochure:

An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements and the following departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:

  1. Completion of an undergraduate major in psychology (or neuroscience).
  2. Receipt of a positive recommendation by the Departmental Admissions Committee.

Admission is based on evaluation of an applicant’s entire record. In evaluating each application, the Admissions Committee examines such factors as grades, research record (e.g., research apprenticeships, publications, presentations, and senior or honors theses), and letters of recommendation.

Students without an undergraduate major in psychology or neuroscience are welcome to apply, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  If they are offered admission, they will be informed about any additional course​s that would need to be taken at UWM (in addition to the required graduate coursework) to fill gaps in training.

As part of their doctoral requirements, PhD students must earn a master’s degree in psychology that includes a thesis derived from empirical research; they do this by fulfilling the requirements of the “General Psychology Track” for the MS degree while enrolled simultaneously in the PhD program. An exception is that students who already have earned a master’s degree based on an empirical thesis in psychology or neuroscience from another college or university are exempt from the requirement of earning the MS in our department.

Credits and Courses

The minimum degree requirement is 54 graduate credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM.

Departmental Doctoral Curriculum

Only courses numbered 700 or above and a few departmentally-designated undergraduate/graduate courses, including PSYCH 510 and PSYCH 610, may be counted in the doctoral curriculum, which is specified in the department’s Doctoral Student Handbook.

Clinical Psychology Curriculum

The Clinical Psychology curriculum consists of a sequence of required clinical courses, including courses in professional ethics, issues, and research methods in clinical psychology; developmental psychopathology; foundations of psychotherapy; assessment (two semesters); and empirically-supported interventions. Other required courses include a two-course statistics sequence, history of psychology, multicultural issues in counseling or clinical psychology, and lifespan developmental psychology. Also, Clinical Psychology students must fulfill American Psychological Association (APA) requirements by completing one course from each of the following areas: biological bases of behavior, cognitive/affective bases of behavior, and social bases of behavior.

In addition to classroom courses, students also must complete a sequence of practicum and community placement courses for intensive training in assessment, diagnosis, therapy, and professional practice and, later, a pre-doctoral, extramural, full-time (2,000 hours) internship. Students should consult the department’s Doctoral Student Handbook for details.

Completion of a departmental minor is optional for clinical students (available areas: Cognition and Perception, Developmental Psychology, Health Psychology, Neuroscience, and Quantitative Methods).

The clinical program strongly adheres to the scientist-practitioner model of training. It is designed to train psychologists as generalists. However, our faculty members interests cluster in three primary areas including neuroscience/neuropsychology, cognitive/behavioral and behavioral therapies, and pediatric/health psychology. As a result, students often leave the clinical program with a focus in one or more of these areas. The clinical program is accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).1 The program has been accredited continually since 1980.

In addition, the clinical program is a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. Membership in the Academy is granted only after a thorough peer review process. Our membership in the Academy indicates our commitment to excellence in scientific training and to using clinical science as the foundation for designing, implementing, and evaluating assessment and intervention procedures.


Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation 750 First Street, NE Washington, DC 20002-4242. Phone: 202-336-5979

Clinical Psychology Sequence48
History of Psychology3
Breadth Requirement9
Multicultural Issues3
Developmental Psychology3
Research Credits12
Total Credits84

Health Psychology Curriculum

The Health Psychology curriculum consists of a core course in health psychology, two other courses in health psychology chosen in consultation with the major professor, a two-course statistics sequence, completion of two departmental minor areas of study (available areas: Cognition and Perception, Developmental Psychology, Neuroscience, Psychopathology, and Quantitative Methods) and one breadth course chosen in consultation with the major professor. Students should consult the department’s Doctoral Student Handbook for details.

Health psychology, which is concerned with the psychological variables that influence physical health and illness, has become a dominant force in the health sciences. The program offers training in research and theories relevant to health promotion. Faculty members and students work together on projects focused on gender and health, cancer prevention and health education, reproductive health and STD prevention, patient advocacy and self-care behaviors, the effects of stress and mechanisms of coping with it, and child abuse prevention. Research is conducted in the laboratory as well as in clinical settings, and many members of the faculty have strong ties to the Milwaukee community.

Health Psychology Courses9
Breadth Requirement3
Departmental Minors and Research Credits36
Minimum 18 Research Credits
Total Credits54

Neuroscience Curriculum

The Neuroscience curriculum includes four core courses (behavioral neuroscience, cellular and molecular neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and proseminar in biological psychology). Other required courses include a two-course statistics sequence, seminar in neuroscience (three semesters of official enrollment), and three electives, chosen in consultation with the major professor. Students should consult the department’s Doctoral Student Handbook for details.

Neuroscience is devoted to the study of the nervous system. The curriculum is designed to provide students with the intellectual and technical skills necessary for a productive career in academics or industry. Students are part of the greater Milwaukee Area Neuroscience group, which includes faculty members and students from various departments at UWM, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Marquette University. Students learn a wide range of techniques working with laboratory animals and human subjects. These include experimental design, behavioral testing and analysis, neurophysiology, aseptic surgical techniques, quantitative protein and mRNA assays, immunohistochemistry, eyetracking, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Current research topics include cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning and memory; mapping brain areas involved in memory and emotion in humans and rodents using fMRI; effects of exercise on cerebral blood flow; mechanisms of recovery from brain damage; visual attention; effects of aging on learning and memory; and the role of calcium and calcium-binding proteins in ischemic cell death.

Neuroscience Courses12
Neuroscience Seminar6
Additional Courses30
Minimum 18 credits in Research
Total Credits54

Additional Requirements

Advising and the Major Professor

Graduate School and departmental regulations require students to have a major professor to direct their research activities. Entering students are assigned to the major professor they have chosen during the admissions process. Students are free to change their major professor at any time. The Department provides a Graduate Program Coordinator, who advises about courses and program requirements and who approves programs of study. The Graduate Program Coordinator also is available to help any student who wishes to change his/her major professor.

Multicultural Requirement

Clinical students must complete a course in multicultural issues in clinical or counseling psychology.

Developmental Psychology Requirement

Clinical students must complete a graduate-level lifespan developmental psychology course.

Extradepartmental Minors and Certificates (optional)

If they wish, and with the approval of their major professors, students may complete, in another department, a coherent program of at least 8 graduate credits (undergraduate/graduate courses taken for graduate credit apply). They may also, if they wish, complete one or more graduate certificate programs.


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements. Please note the requirement of earning at least 27 graduate credits at UWM. For more information on residence, see the Graduate School Doctoral Requirements page.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

Students must pass a doctoral preliminary examination to qualify for formal admission to candidacy for the degree. The preliminary examination can be taken only after the master’s degree has been earned and all relevant coursework has been completed satisfactorily. The format of the examination depends on the program. Specific guidelines for preliminary examinations can be found in the department’s Doctoral Student Handbook.

Clinical Internship Requirement

With the approval of the department’s Clinical Training Committee, clinical students are eligible to begin a required one-year, 2,000-hour internship after they have passed the preliminary examination and the doctoral dissertation proposal hearing.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate must write a dissertation that demonstrates the ability to formulate a research topic and pursue independent and original investigation. A doctoral dissertation committee must have at least four members, at least three of whom must be tenure-track or tenured faculty in the UWM Department of Psychology who hold Graduate Faculty status. A maximum of two committee members can be individuals who have doctoral degrees but who do not have Graduate Faculty status at UWM.

Final Oral Examination

The candidate must, as the final step toward the degree, pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment (four years if entering with a master’s degree), excluding internship.

For additional information on the PhD, see the Graduate School Doctoral Requirements page.