Doctoral Program

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.

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.

Application Deadline

December 15

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The admissions process is described on the Boston College Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences website.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Students must attend this program on a full-time basis. The program is designed to be completed within five years.

Pre-Doctoral Mentorship Program

The Pre-Doctoral Mentorship Program (PDMP) is a student-run initiative that offers mentorship to prospective applicants to psychology and neuroscience doctoral programs. The goal of this program is to offer one-on-one mentorship and institutional knowledge to applicants who may not have access to such advantages.


November 15

Mentorship Program Application

Please direct any questions to