Application Deadline December 15
Boston College Psychology and Neuroscience is an inclusive department that values diversity. We welcome all applicants, and strongly encourage students from underrepresented groups and first-generation students to apply to our program. If you are from an underrepresented group or are a first-generation student, consider signing up for our Application Mentorship Program.
Our doctoral program is a five-year, full-time, fully funded, research-oriented program that features setting up a research program, coursework, and a close relationship with a faculty advisor. The number of graduate students admitted is limited. Currently, the ratio of faculty to doctoral students is approximately 1 to 1.
Our program is aimed at students who intend to become research psychologists and neuroscientists, participating in the basic search for knowledge about the human mind and brain. The focus throughout the stay at Boston College is on original research. Students publish papers, apply for grants, and attend professional conferences as part of their training.
Students apply to one of the Psychology Department's five areas of concentration and receive a Ph.D. degree in that area. Students may also participate in one of the department's interdisciplinary programs.
PhD Application Mentorship Program (AMP) Deadline
The admissions process is described on the Boston College Graduate School of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences website. For information on applying for an application fee waiver, click "Application Process" on the right, or scroll down to the How to Apply section.
Students are admitted to work with a particular faculty member and within one of our five areas. Please visit the concentration page for a list of faculty members who serve as advisors in each area. Admission is selective and requires approval of the advisor and of the department's Graduate Admissions Committee. We recommend that applicants reach out to potential advisors well in advance of the application deadline to determine whether they plan to accept a Ph.D. student that year. Not all faculty accept students each year.
Guidelines for admissions to the graduate program:
- Admission to the program normally requires an overall and major GPA of 3.33.
- To ensure prospective graduate students are well prepared to TA in their area of specialization—Developmental, Social, Cognitive, Neuroscience, or Quantitative—they are also expected to have received at least a B in all courses within this area.
- Graduate students must have been in good academic standing for the last two years.
Faculty members will invite top applicants to interview by February. Applicants will be notified of admissions decisions shortly thereafter.
Ph.D. students are fully funded, and tuition is waived. Students serve as Teaching Assistants during the course of the program.
Advisor and Thesis Committee
Each student is accepted to work with a primary advisor. By the end of the first semester, the student, along with the advisor, selects two additional faculty members to serve on a thesis committee.
Second Year Research Project
The Ph.D. student's initial task is the production of a second-year research project. Work on this task begins on day one of the first year. During the first year, a topic is selected, background reading carried out, a research program designed and piloted, and a proposal (written much like a grant proposal) is submitted to the student's three-person committee. The proposal is defended orally in front of the committee, and must have final approval by the committee by the end of September of Year Two.
In the second year, any further pilot work needed is carried out, IRB approval is obtained, the data gathered and analyzed, and the second-year research project written and defended (by March 31 of Year Two).
The research project reports original empirical research initiated and carried out while in our program. Students may not bring previously collected data and use these data for the project. Although the entire project is carried out in close collaboration with the advisor, the student should be the major contributor. Thus the student should qualify for senior authorship on the project when it is submitted for publication (which we strongly encourage).
The project is to be in the form of an article publishable in a good journal in the student's area. Evaluation is based on the criterion of publishability, with the exception that results need not have turned out statistically significant.
Years Three, Four, and Five
The second period in your graduate program is characterized by a shift to more independent work and an even more intensive focus on research. The third year focuses on two requirements that you work on simultaneously, the third year Literature Review and the Dissertation Proposal. The fourth year focuses on dissertation research. Even more than in the first two years, however, meeting the formal requirements is the minimum. The student’s principal job is carrying out research and building up a CV.
Early in the third year, students meet with their committee to form a tentative plan for Years Three and Four. This plan should be formalized and signed by the committee (Form 5) by December 1 of Year Three. Students are encouraged to begin pilot research for their dissertation, if they have not already done so, during the first semester of Year Three.
Five-Year Time Limit
Students must attend this program on a full-time basis. The program is designed to be completed within five years.
Application Mentorship Program
The Application Mentorship Program (AMP) is a student-run initiative in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Boston College that offers mentorship to prospective applicants to our doctoral program who are from underrepresented backgrounds. The goal of this program is to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within our department as well as in our field by mentoring prospective applicants who may not have access to this type of one-on-one mentorship, or the institutional knowledge and other privileges that have traditionally helped pave the road for applicants into competitive Ph.D. programs.
Participants in the program will be matched with current graduate students or postdocs in the department who will mentor them on the process of applying to psychology and neuroscience Ph.D. programs. Participants and their mentors will work together to decide how and when to be in contact (e.g., email, Slack, Zoom, phone call, small groups) to discuss topics such as how to refine research interests, how to craft a CV, how to write a compelling personal statement, or any other aspect of the application process about which participants have questions.
This program is designed for prospective applicants from backgrounds that are underrepresented in Psychology and Neuroscience, including, but not limited to: people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people who were the first in their family to attend college, and people with disabilities. If you’re unsure whether this program is for you, chances are that it is!
We also ask that prospective applicants only apply to this program if they are at least considering applying to our doctoral program; however, prospective applicants will continue to receive mentorship even if they later decide not to apply to Boston College. Mentors in our department are best positioned to advise prospective applicants in the following areas: Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive/Developmental/Social Psychology, Cognitive/Computational/Social Neuroscience, Quantitative/Computational Psychology. You can learn more about these areas on the departments Reserach page.
We invite prospective applicants to apply to the AMP until November 15 to ensure sufficient time to provide substantive mentorship before the doctoral program's application deadline on December 15.
This program is designed to be fun, flexible, interactive, inclusive, and minimally time-consuming. We know that the application process can be challenging to navigate, so we want to offer whatever assistance we can, while ensuring that we don’t use up more of your time than is helpful.
Please note that participation in this program is NOT a requirement for application or admission to the program, nor will it be factored into the admissions decisions made by the department. Your official application will not indicate whether you participated in this program.
Finally, we would encourage you to check out the FAQs for our doctoral program.