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The School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences offers graduate work leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Psychology with concentrations in the following areas: Applied Psychology, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Clinical Psychology, and Counseling Psychology.

The goal of graduate study in Psychology at SIU is to develop psychologists who will have a broad perspective and scientific sophistication as well as the requisite skills to advance the field of psychology and meet changing needs. The program emphasizes formal course work in the core curriculum and in the concentrations, preprofessional activities in training assignments, research, teaching, and practicum opportunities.

The primary emphasis is on doctoral training, for which the Master of Arts degree is a prerequisite earned en route to the doctorate. The program does offer Master of Science degree for students enrolled in an accelerated B.A./M.S. program. In addition, there is a non-thesis M.S. in Psychology option.

Admission and Advisement

The Psychology program and Graduate School applications form one combined application that will be submitted online through the Graduate School Website. The link to the Graduate School application can be found on the Graduate School website by clicking “Apply.” There are supplemental application items, specific to the Psychology program that must be submitted along with the main online application. Separate forms are not required for application for financial assistance, except for Graduate School fellowships. Students will be accepted for graduate work in psychology only upon approval by the program's admissions committee as well as the Graduate School. Evaluations of applicants by the program's admissions committee are based on information from the application form, GRE scores (for some programs), transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal/research statement. This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee; applicants must pay this fee by credit card through the online application.

Upon admission to the program, each student is assigned to a faculty adviser, who assists in academic matters, including the planning of the student’s program of study: required courses, planned electives, anticipated dates for fulfillment of specified requirements, and so forth.

A new adviser may be assigned to a student for two reasons: (a) the student or adviser may request a change of adviser; (b) the student may change to a different area of concentration. Requests for a change of adviser should be made in writing to the student’s area committee. To change area of concentration, the student should petition the sub-committee of the new area.

Core Curriculum

All students must complete the following minimum requirements which may be supplemented by requirements specific to concentration areas:

  1. Two of three courses from PSYC 522, PSYC 524, and QUAN 507.
  2. PSYC 509 for students who have not completed a course in the history and systems of psychology.
  3. Thesis (PSYC 599) registration; students enrolled in the master’s degree program should complete the thesis requirement (PSYC 599, four to six hours) by the end of the second year.
  4. (Students in the Clinical and Counseling areas only) one course from each of the four core coverage areas specified by the American Psychological Association. A list of courses which meet core coverage requirements is maintained by the program.

Areas of Concentration

Applied Psychology Concentration

The Applied Psychology (AP) concentration program is designed for students interested in research careers dealing with applied problems in non-academic and academic settings. The program provides students with training in research and data analysis methods that can be applied to a variety of problems in the public and private sectors.

Students in the AP concentration take the following courses in addition to program requirements described above.

  1. Statistics and measurement: PSYC 522, PSYC 524, PSYC 525, and either PSYC 529 or PSYC 575
  2. Program evaluation and research methods: PSYC 465, PSYC 523, and PSYC 564
  3. At least three of the following Psychology content courses: PSYC 411, PSYC 461, PSYC 511, PSYC 515, PSYC 553, PSYC 565, PSYC 566, PSYC 567, PSYC 568, or other courses approved by the faculty.

In addition AP students take PSYC 571 (Proseminar in Applied Experimental Psychology) during their first semester in the program, and PSYC 569 (Applied Research Consultants) from their second year until admission to the doctoral program or for two summers and four semesters, whichever is longer. AP students develop a specialization consisting of at least three graduate courses, additional readings, and/or independent study. A specialization plan and paper is developed with and approved by a specialization committee.

Brain and Cognitive Sciences Concentration

The Brain and Cognitive Sciences program (BCS) emphasizes cognitive behavior approached from a combination of developmental (infancy and childhood, adolescence and aging), neurobiological (neurophysiology, neuropsychology, genetics), behavioral (human and animal experimentation) and computational (neural networks, statistical analyses, intelligent software agents) perspectives. Students specializing in Brain and Cognitive Sciences typically pursue careers in academic settings such as departments/schools of psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science or medical schools, or in non-academic settings such as pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, or in government research facilities.

In addition to program requirements, BCS students will take four courses from the following three pairs: PSYC 511 and PSYC 515 (Cognitive), PSYC 554 and PSYC 555 (Developmental), and PSYC 514 and PSYC 516 (Biopsychology). They must choose at least one course from each pair. Students will get experience with at least two different research methodologies (behavioral/cognitive experimentation, computational modeling, neurobiological experimentation, psychological assessment) either through individual research or appropriate course work, and must enroll for PSYC 572 (BCS Proseminar) throughout their tenure in the program. An additional four to six courses are required for the specialization.

Clinical Psychology Concentration

The Clinical Psychology program, accredited since 1961 by the American Psychological Association and the current Commission on Accreditation, is designed to train clinical psychologists for careers in clinical service, teaching and research. In addition to completing a required program core (designed in accordance with APA accreditation and state licensing board requirements), students take required courses in clinical skills, psychopathology, assessment, therapy, advanced/integrative discipline-specific knowledge, and ethical/professional issues (PSYC 594C, PSYC 535 or PSYC 581, PSYC 540, PSYC 580, and PSYC 598).

Students in the Adult Clinical Psychology specialization take required courses in psychotherapy and assessment (PSYC 530 and PSYC 544), in addition to two clinically relevant electives. Students in the Child Clinical Psychology specialization take two required developmental psychology courses (one of which usually fulfills a core requirement), and several courses in child assessment plus child treatment (PSYC 543, PSYC 556, and PSYC 559).

Counseling Psychology Concentration

The Counseling Psychology program, accredited since 1961 by the Accreditation Committee, Education Directorate of the American Psychological Association, is designed to teach students a wide range of skills which will prepare them to function as scientist-practitioners. Graduates are qualified for employment in a university setting (either in an academic unit or a counseling center), in hospitals, community agencies, and educational and correctional institutions. The student is expected to develop competence in counseling, psychological assessment, research, and teaching. The required courses are as follows: PSYC 523, PSYC 525, PSYC 526, PSYC 530, PSYC 536, PSYC 537, PSYC 538, PSYC 540, PSYC 548, PSYC 553, PSYC 558, PSYC 561, PSYC 594F, and PSYC 598.

Research, Practicum, and Training Assignments

Research or practica are required in each area of concentration. In addition, each term the student must be engaged in a training assignment which supplements formal course work by professional activities such as research, teaching, or clinical service. The assignment varies according to the needs, professional goals, and competencies of the student, and increases in responsibility as the student progresses. The assignments require from 10 to 20 hours of service per week. This is a degree requirement of all students each term and is independent of any financial support. Therefore, each term the student signs up for one hour of PSYC 597.

Thesis and Dissertation Committee

Because the thesis or dissertation project and the proposed committee composition must be formally approved by the School Director, the student should submit the proposed committee in writing for approval by the chair well in advance of the prospectus meeting.

A master’s thesis committee consists of three or more faculty members and a dissertation committee of five or more faculty members (counting the committee chair). Committee chairs and a majority of committee members must be tenure-track faculty of the Psychology program. Thesis and dissertation committees must have one Psychology faculty member outside the student’s program area—to better reflect the diversity of programs perspectives. Dissertation committees also must have a faculty member from a program other than Psychology.


Prior to starting the empirical research on a thesis or dissertation, a student must submit a written prospectus to each member of the committee at least one week prior to the prospectus meeting. A carefully written prospectus ordinarily serves as the opening chapters of the thesis or dissertation.

The approval of the prospectus indicates that the committee members accept the research design. Faculty members not on the committee may attend the prospectus meeting, or may forward suggestions and comments to the committee chair prior to the meeting. Prospectus meetings are not scheduled during the recess period between semesters.

If the prospectus is approved with no major modifications, a letter of approval, noting any minor modifications is sent by the committee chair to the School Director for filing in the student’s permanent records. If major modifications are needed, the student may be asked to rewrite the prospectus, circulate the revised prospectus and arrange another committee meeting. A prospectus must be approved at least one semester before graduation.


The student has the option of writing the thesis or dissertation in the traditional fashion or in journal style. In the latter case, ancillary material (full survey of literature, subsidiary analyses, etc.) are placed in the appendices, although figures and tables appear in the text. The Psychology program prefers that citations, table headings, etc. follow the APA style (Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, latest edition, Washington, D.C.).

General Procedures

Students should not register for PSYC 599 or PSYC 600 hours until they have supervisors and will actually be using University facilities, or faculty time for assistance and direction.

Prior to graduation (a minimum of five weeks for master’s students and eight weeks for doctoral students), and at least one week prior to the oral defense meeting, the candidate must submit a final draft of the thesis or dissertation to the full committee so that appropriate suggestions can be made.

Number of Copies

Two bound copies of the complete thesis or dissertation are required: one for the committee chair, and one for the School's thesis and dissertation library.

Oral Examination

The Psychology program requires an oral examination, conducted by the student’s thesis or dissertation committee, for each M.A. and Ph.D. candidate. The examination covers the thesis or dissertation and also includes questions designed to ascertain the student’s general competence in psychology.

Oral examinations are open to all interested observers. Notices of the time and place of the examination, and abstracts of the thesis or dissertation, are circulated throughout the program and, in the case of Ph.D. examinations, throughout the University. Two copies of the abstract should be given to the Graduate Program Coordinator at least one week prior to the oral defense meeting.

The Graduate Program Coordinator delivers the oral examination form and the thesis or dissertation evaluation form to the committee chair the day before the orals are scheduled. Orals meetings are not scheduled during the recess period between semesters.

General Information

Waiving of Course Requirements

Students who wish to have a course waived should consult with their advisers, the course instructor, and the head of their major area. One of the following recommendations will be made: (a) the course will be waived; (b) a proficiency examination (theoretical, practical, or both) will be given prior to deciding on the student’s request; (c) the request will be refused and the student will take the course. A student may appeal the decision by writing a letter to the School Director requesting that the case be reviewed.

Grading Policies

Any student who receives a grade of Inc. is responsible for contacting the instructor to determine the time allowed for the completion of the course (normally not more than one year).

For internal records to be used within the program only, pluses and minuses are added to the standard A, B, C grades reported to the Office of Admissions and Records.

Student Evaluation

All students are evaluated by the faculty at least once a year, normally during fall semester. New students are evaluated in the beginning of spring semester (first year) and students on school probation at times specified in their probation. The evaluation is based on the following criteria: (1) academic performance on a 10 point rating scale (A+ = 10); (2) ratings on the training assignment; and (3) progress toward the degree. The student’s evaluation may also be based upon evidence relating to professional attitudes or ethical behavior.

Each student’s adviser informs the student of the evaluation and of any faculty recommendations as soon as possible after the meeting. In addition, the School Director writes a formal letter notifying the student of the evaluation and recommendations.         

Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology

The master’s degree requires a minimum of 48 credit hours of acceptable graduate credit, distributed according to the requirements of the student’s major area, and the completion of an approved thesis or research paper. The master’s thesis may be either original research or the replication of an important study. The master’s degree is a prerequisite for the doctorate. For additional information on the course of study required for the master's degrees, contact the Director fo the School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences.

Accelerated M.S. in Psychology - Applied Psychology Concentration

The accelerated five-year B.A./M.S. degree program is designed to provide practical experience in consulting and program evaluation as well as an educational background in research methods, statistics and program evaluation. This program leads to B.A. and a M.S. in Psychology. It is designed to provide a pathway to complete a graduate degree with an additional year of graduate studies beyond the undergraduate degree. The accelerated M.S. degree has a concentration in Applied Psychology and is a non-thesis degree program. 

During the Spring semester, undergraduate students who have junior status will be able to apply to enter the Master’s program. To complete this five-year plan, 120 credit hours are required for the bachelor’s degree and an additional 31-32 credit hours for the master’s degree. Nine credit hours are double counted toward an undergraduate and a Master’s degree. Twenty-two to twenty-three credit hours are taken after undergraduate graduation.

The option requires satisfactory completion of nine credit hours in 400-level Psychology courses. This will be followed by 13 required statistics and methods credit hours of coursework [10 credit hours from PSYC 522, PSYC 523 and POLS 519 or POLS 539 and 3 elective credit hours from PSYC 505, PSYC 507, PSYC 574, PSYC 421, BA 540, POLS 519, or PADM 539 (POLS 519 or PADM 539 can only be applied to this requirement if not taken as required credit hours for statistics and methods above)]. Students will also complete 10 credit hours of coursework in Applied Research Consultants (the Applied Psychology in-house consulting firm). Students will complete 1 credit hour in Spring semester of their senior year which will not count towards the completion of the master’s degree. This will be followed by 9 credit hours in the Fall and 3 credit hours in Spring of their fifth year. Students will complete a written report describing their accomplishments and completed projects in ARC at the end of the master’s program.

This accelerated master's degree is designed for students who desire an advanced degree including consulting experience and training in research methods, statistics and program evaluation that may lead to higher entry positions in their chosen career path. An associated benefit of the accelerated program to students that have advanced degree aspirations is the ability to save time and money by completing their studies more quickly at the same institution and double-counting 9 credit hours. This accelerated BA-MS degree program is not designed for students who may wish to transition to a Ph.D. program in Psychology.

Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology


Admission to the Ph.D. program requires a master’s degree, a grade point average of 3.25 or above in graduate studies, and acceptance by the program. A student who receives the master’s degree from SIU must apply formally to the Graduate School for admission to doctoral-level study, and must be approved by the faculty.

Records of students entering the program with a master’s degree from another institution are evaluated by the program admissions committee which notes deficiencies, recommends methods for removing them, and specifies a time limit to do so. Such deficiencies must be removed before the student can be classified as a Ph.D. candidate. The student is recommended to the graduate dean for admission to Ph.D. candidacy only when core curriculum requirements and the preliminary examination(s) have been satisfactorily completed.

Accelerated Entry into Ph.D. Degree Program

Students enrolled in the M.A. degree program may be admitted directly to the Ph.D. degree program following program certification of graduate work comparable to a master’s degree in psychology at SIU. Accelerated entry is acceptable only for students who have completed substantial work in other programs in psychology which grant the Ph.D. degree but not a master’s degree. Students seeking accelerated entry may apply after enrollment at the master’s level for one semester. Applications for accelerated entry are reviewed and decided by a faculty committee appointed by the School Director.


Doctoral students who are concentrating in counseling or clinical psychology must complete an approved internship. The internship is viewed as an integral part of training and the Ph.D. degree is not awarded until the completion of all academic work and the internship. Students are responsible for scheduling and obtaining internships. Internships in counseling and clinical psychology require a full-time experience either for one calendar year, or for two years of half-time experience. Counseling and clinical students are approved for internship after completion of their master’s degree, major and minor preliminary examinations, and all courses required for the Ph.D. Clinical students must have an approved dissertation prospectus before applying for internship.

Students in applied psychology are encouraged to complete an internship in an applied setting away from campus that is selected with the help of their faculty advisers in their major area of concentration.

Preliminary Examinations

Ph.D. candidacy is contingent upon successful completion of a written and/or an oral preliminary examination in the student’s major area of concentration. The examination is composed primarily of questions requiring substantive knowledge of empirical and theoretical topics. Questions are not limited to course content.

Every student is expected to pass each examination on first taking. In any event a second failure on a preliminary examination will result in a thorough faculty review of the student’s entire academic record in order to determine whether the student will be allowed to continue in the program and, if continued, under what conditions.


Fields of concentration for the major/comprehensive preliminary examination are listed below:

  1. Experimental. Either applied psychology or brain and cognitive science may be selected for the comprehensive examination.
  2. Clinical. The major examination is composed of two parts: 1) an oral exam assessing knowledge in the Profession-Wide Competencies as defined by the American Psychology Association and 2) a critical review and integration of research written independently subsequent to advisor approval of a proposed topic and outline. It is expected this document will lay the foundation for a dissertation prospectus and should include an overview of methodology that could appropriately address current questions in the research literature.
    • The content of the oral examination questions includes the following: psychological assessment, psychotherapy, psychopathology, research methods, and professional/ethical issues. Questions in the oral examination also reflect the student’s specialization emphasis, i.e., adult or child.
    • The written review paper should provide a critical analysis and synthesis of current research and literature on the approved topic, demonstrating independent thoughts and strong written expression. It should also demonstrate an understanding of research design and methodology appropriate for addressing current questions in the designated research domain. It is anticipated that the review paper will serve as the overview and empirical foundation for the dissertation prospectus.
    • Evaluation of the oral examination and the written review of research will be conducted by a committee composed of faculty contributing to teaching and supervision in the student’s respective specialization (Child or Adult).

Major/comprehensive examinations are scheduled by the program.

  1. Experimental. Examinations will be given once a term.
  2. Clinical. The program will conduct the oral examinations, and will accept the written research review papers, on the Friday preceding the beginning of each Fall and Spring semesters. The written research review papers will also be accepted on April 1st every Spring. Students will receive feedback on each component of the Preliminary Examination within one month.

Notices are posted well in advance and students are expected to notify the Graduate Program Coordinator of their intention to take the examination. Examination committees are appointed by the chair.

In addition to the major/comprehensive preliminary examination, a specialization paper is required in the experimental area.


Each candidate for the Ph.D. degree must write a dissertation showing high attainment in independent, original scholarship and creative effort. A total of 24 credit hours is required. A maximum of six hours of dissertation credit taken prior to passing the major preliminary examination will count. A student may not hold a prospectus meeting before successful completion of the preliminary examination.