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Applicant Info

Thinking about applying here for graduate school? We were recently ranked as one of the ten best social psychology programs in the United States. We are particularly strong in the areas of stereotyping, prejudice, emotion, motivation, cultural psychology, positive psychology, affective forecasting, counterfactual thinking, political psychology, intergroup relations, implicit cognition, research methods innovation, and social cognition more generally. With the recent hire of Jamie Morris, we are now a great place to do fMRI work on social neuroscience. With the recent hires of Ben Converse and Sophie Trawalter --both of whom are joint appointments with the new Batten School -- we are now a great place to explore the applications of behavioral science to public policy and leadership.

Here are some additional reasons to go ahead and apply:

  • Our area is known for being extremely collegial and supportive. Graduate students are all fully funded, and are encouraged to collaborate with two or more faculty members during their time here.
  • Our whole department is strong, and students are also encouraged to work with faculty members in other areas. Here is an article on our department that appeared in the APS Observer
  • Our area has close ties with UVA's superb professional schools, including the Darden school of Business, the UVA School of Law, and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. We also have a joint project with the department of Politics.
  • We have a large participant pool, several websites that collect data from hundreds of thousands of subjects per year, and a large pool of very talented undergraduate research assistants. It is very easy for graduate students to be highly productive.
  • The University of Virginia is consistently ranked (or tied) as the best public university in the United States. It is an intellectually vibrant and architecturally uplifting place, founded by Thomas Jefferson. (He takes no responsibility for the appearance of Gilmer Hall.)
  • Charlottesville is a lovely place to live and work, often ranked as among the ten best or most livable cities in America. As a college town it has far more amenities than its size would lead you to expect. We are blessed with an ample supply of live music, used book stores, and excellent restaurants. We are 20 minutes away from the Blue Ridge mountains, with some of the best hiking and most spectacular views east of the Rocky Mountains. And we are just two hours drive South of Washington, DC.

The Application Process

In each admissions cycle we usually receive 80-120 applications and offer admission to 6-8 people. Successful applicants usually have excellent grades, excellent GRE scores, outstanding letters of recommendation, and undergraduate research experience. However we evaluate each applicant on an individual basis, and we encourage students with unusual backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applications from minorities and other underrepresented groups.

We accept students only for the Ph.D. program, not for a master's degree. We train students to become independent researchers, and most of our students go on to hold research positions in academe, government, or private industry.

We admit students to the area, rather than to any specific laboratory.  This is intended to encourage students to work in multiple laboratories during their graduate career, and it assures that students have the option of changing primary advisors as their research interests develop without consequences to their funding from the program.  We believe that diversity of training experiences produces scholars with greater breadth and, because of exposure to multiple labs, better ideas for what type of training model they will use with their own students.  Students who have research interests fitting with more than one faculty member have, on average, a better chance of being admitted to the program than students who have research interests connecting with just one faculty member.  Further, students with interests in just one faculty member are unlikely to be admitted during years in which that faculty member is unlikely to add a primary student.  For the incoming class of 2012-2013, the Oishi, Spellman, and Trawalter laboratories are unlikely to add a primary student.  But, as in all years, those faculty will continue to collaborate with many students in the program. 

For more information on the application process you can access the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Psychology Department website.

To get application materials and apply online click here.