The Department offers a broadly oriented degree program that leads to the Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior.Graduate study in our Ph.D. program will provide students with a foundation for a primary, or major, specialization in one of four core areas:
health psychology, developmental psychology, social/personality psychology, and affective science.
Students select another area as a secondary, or minor, field of specialization. Our program seeks to provide students with a foundation of the theories, methods, and knowledge base of these four core areas in order to understand the antecedents and developmental course of adaptive or maladaptive behavior in diverse sociocultural contexts. An additional objective of our program is to provide training in the translation of basic research to guide the formulation and evaluation of social interventions, programs and policies that have the potential to promote health and well-being.
Graduate students in our doctoral program acquire a strong foundation in theory, research methods, advanced statistics, as well as in the classic and contemporary issues of their respective fields. Students collaborate with faculty on research from the very beginning
of their graduate training and are encouraged to gain research experience with more than one faculty member. As their interests and skills develop, students pursue more independent research projects. With 25 full-time faculty to serve as mentors for approximately
70 graduate students, our students enjoy the benefits of a program with an excellent faculty-to-student ratio and with a strong sense of community. Because students work closely with faculty throughout their graduate careers, they regularly have opportunities to co-author
conference presentations, journal articles, and book chapters.
For more information about graduate admission to our program, please click here. Finally, if you have specific questions that remain unanswered, please contact our graduate recruiter, Ariel Folkerts.

When applying to our program be sure to pick "Psychology & Social Behavior" under the "School of Social Ecology" on the admissions website. There is a different psychology program (described here) in the School of Social Sciences with a unique application system separate from our own. Please be careful to not apply to the wrong School and/or Department. On your application, please ALSO indicate your "specific area of interest" on your application as one of the following specializations. Also note that a concentration in Psychology & Law must be paired with a Specialization in one of our 4 major areas (Affective Science, Developmental, Health or Social/Personality).

Specialization in Developmental Psychology

The specialization in developmental psychology focuses on the development and adaptation of individuals across the life-span and the effects of variations in the social, physical, and cultural contexts of development at different points in the life-span. Coursework introduces students to developmental theories, concepts, and empirical research at all phases of the life course.

Specialization in Health Psychology

This specialization focuses on understanding the psychosocial and behavioral factors that influence the onset or progression of illness and disease and the effectiveness of health promotion programs and medical treatments. Training will allow students to develop a strong foundation in the theoretical perspectives, research methods, intervention strategies, ethical issues, and current controversies in the field of health psychology.

Specialization in Social/Personality Psychology

The specialization in social/personality psychology trains students to examine how features of the social environment and characteristics of individuals interact to influence behavior, cognition, and affect. Training will allow students to develop a strong foundation in the theoretical perspectives, research methods, and current controversies in the field of social/personality psychology. Special emphases include social cognition, emotion, subjective well-being, self and identity, personality resilience, interpersonal relations, cultural psychology, and adaptation to stress and perceived risks.

Specialization in Affective Science

The specialization in affective science focuses on the effects of emotion, motivation, and values on human reasoning, behavior, and health in typical and atypical populations, across the life span, and across cultures. Special emphases include the biological bases of emotional experience; relations between emotion, reasoning, and memory; emotion regulation; goal engagement and disengagement; effects of emotion on physical and mental health; emotion in social relationships; and how emotional experience changes over the lifespan.

Concentration in Psychology and Law

UCI has emerged as one of the world's leading centers for research and scholarship in the interdisciplinary field of Psychology and Law. The concentration in psychology & law (forensic psychology) endeavors to investigate issues and train graduate students to address problems that fall at the intersection between these fields. Click here to read about the Center for Psychology and Law at UC Irvine.

Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology

The Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology (MLFP) program focuses on the intersection of psychology and legal issues, with a greater emphasis on the use of psychological principles, theories, and research to better understand legal processes and systems. One of the strengths of this program is its promotion of interdisciplinary learning.  At its core, the forensic and legal studies program integrates facets of psychology, forensics and the law. Students are immersed in an interdisciplinary field devoted to advancing scholarship, testing theories, and engaging in public service relevant to individuals’ participation and experiences in legal contexts. Click here to read learn more about this program.

Please note: UCI does not have a PhD in Forensic Psychology, however, you may select the concentration in Psychology & Law alongside another area of Psychology specialization.

For a list of faculty members affiliated with each of these research areas and concentrations, please click here.