Preparation for Admission

What is required for admission to your graduate program?

Our admissions process is highly competitive, however, we consider applications holistically. We will also evaluate fit within our program based on interest and what we are able to offer – we usually depend on the personal statement to assess this.

A competitive applicant typically has the following:

  • Undergraduate cumulative GPA around 3.7 (usually with a major in psychology)
  • GRE scores around 320 (combined verbal and quantitative)
  • Extensive research experience

Although this profile is a typical admit, not all admitted students fit this exact profile. Thus, a strong record in one area may be able to compensate for weakness in another area. Promising candidates will be invited for an admission interview during the winter prior to fall admission (usually late-January).

Are students admitted to work with a specific faculty member?

We do not follow a strict apprenticeship model in our department. Students are assigned an advisor in their first year but are not required to work only with that faculty member for the program duration. In fact, while some students do work with a single mentor, many conduct research with several faculty members during their graduate career. You are welcome to include potential mentors of interest on your application to our department.

I’d like to set up a meeting with a faculty member and/or a graduate advisor – how can I do so?

If your application looks promising, you will be invited to our campus for an interview during the winter prior to fall admission (usually late-January). At that time, there will be an opportunity to meet with many faculty members and current graduate students in our program.

Are there prerequisite courses for admission to your graduate program?

We do not have any formal prerequisites. Nonetheless, we certainly expect some familiarity with psychology so that we know that you have been exposed to the content of the field (and we know that you are clear what you are getting into!). Perhaps more importantly would be some research experience in psychology - that is very important to be competitive in the application process.

Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in Psychology to apply to your graduate program?

No, this is not a requirement. However, it is important to have a background in psychology; courses in research methods, critical thinking and statistics are also helpful. Research experience is an extremely important requirement for successful admission into our doctoral program. If you do not have a psychology background, and you are interested in additional course work and/or research experience, you might consider our Post Baccalaureate Program.

I am interested in clinical psychology or counseling. Is your program for me?

At this time, UCI does not offer a clinical or counseling program, nor is this a component of our graduate training. Our focus is completely research based, so if you are interested in any aspect of counseling or clinical work, the program at UCI will be unlikely to meet your needs. The Affective Science specialization includes research of some clinical disorders and relevant emotion processes.

Are interviews required as part of the admission process?

Yes, we do conduct in-person interviews as part of the admissions process. If your application is viewed as promising by our admissions committee, you will be invited for an interview.

I want to become a Forensic Psychologist. Does your Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior offer a program or specialization in Forensic Psychology?

No: our Ph.D. program does not offer specialization in Forensic Psychology. This sub-discipline is a recognized specialty area of Clinical Psychology, and we do not have a clinical program in our department at this time. We do offer non-clinical training in the Concentration in Psychology & Law that can supplement training in a core specialization area.

Although our Ph.D. program does not offer a specialization in Forensic Psychology, we also offer an online Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology.

Do you offer financial assistance to students accepted into your graduate program (i.e., assistantships, scholarships, or fellowships)?

All domestic students who are admitted to our program are provided with financial assistance that is awarded on a case-by-case basis, either through teaching assistantships, research assistantships or fellowships. If you are admitted to our program, you would be provided with full financial assistance.

I am an international student. Can I still apply?
All international students are welcome to apply to our program. However, as an international student, it is important that you understand that we do not have any fellowships available for international students. Such students must pay, each quarter, both fees (currently about $11,000 USD per year) and tuition (currently about $26,000 USD per year). Although our department has some funding opportunities for which students may be eligible (e.g., teaching assistant positions) that come with stipends and fee remissions, these opportunities do not cover tuition costs. Thus, unfortunately at the present time, all international students must, for the duration of their graduate training in our program, be prepared to cover their own tuition even if the department provides a fee fellowship, stipend, or other employment opportunity to the student. Of note, tuition costs decrease after our students advance to candidacy, but advancements usually take place in students fourth year in our program. Also, several funding opportunities for students require that international students pass English language proficiency tests. Students who do not pass will be ineligible for such funding until they pass.

Is a practicum possible within the program?

We do not have any departmentally sponsored practica.

How long does it typically take to complete the Ph.D. program?

A typical student completes our Ph.D. program in 5 or 6 years -- shorter is possible, longer is discouraged.

Can your graduate program be completed on an evening/night or part-time basis?

Our Ph.D. program is a full-time, day program. The vast majority of graduate courses are offered between the hours of 8am-6pm.

Application Process

Where do I send my official transcripts and other supplemental documents?

Please send all application materials (official transcripts, resume/CV, writing sample, additional letters of recommendation, etc.) to the following address:

University of California, Irvine
School of Social Ecology
5300 Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway
Irvine, CA 92697-7050

Do you have guidelines for the Personal Statement and Personal History Statement?

Please prepare statements that describe your background, research experience, current and future research interests, future goals, and how you see yourself fitting in our department. Please keep these statements under three pages, and note there is a 1200 word limit within the online application.

I am having difficulty submitting an application fee. Does UCI offer a fee waiver program?

Yes, an application fee waiver program is offered by UC Graduate Division. Please click here for more information.

I have previous graduate credit (clinical or counseling). Would this count towards a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior?

We do not have a clinical psychology graduate program at UCI. Thus, previously obtained clinically-oriented credits or course work would be unlikely to be applicable to our graduate degree requirements.

I have previous graduate credit (graduate degree in Psychology). Would this count towards a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior?

Graduate program course work are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and in rare instances, some may be applied to our requirements. Information regarding prior graduate courses and training can be submitted and will be reviewed by the admissions committee for consideration.

Is it possible to transfer into the program? Is there spring or summer start-dates?

We have a single admission date to our program. The application deadline is December 1st of the year prior to admission for fall quarter.

My application for admission was previously denied, but I wish to re-apply. I have already submitted my official transcripts, official GRE and TOEFL score report and three letters of recommendation. Do I need to submit those documents again?

We do not keep admission materials, so if you were previously denied admission, you will need to submit a new application and materials.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

My GRE test scores may not be available by the December 1st deadline. Do you accept unofficial scores or official scores past the due date if everything else is complete?

We will accept unofficial scores until the official electronic ones arrive (even if after the deadline) -- please send official test scores through ETS to UC Irvine using school code: 4859 as soon as possible.

Do I need to take the psychology subject portion (Psychology Subject Exam) of the GRE along with the general exam?

While the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) must be submitted to be considered for admission to our program, the Psychology subject portion of the GRE is not required.

I have taken the GRE more than once. Which scores will you use?

The formal application record reflects the most recent administration of the GRE. However, we typically look at all the scores provided, and take into account the highest total score obtained. If an applicant's most recent scores are not the strongest, he or she should be sure to provide us with copies of the results from earlier GRE exams.

For additional information, please see UCI's Graduate Division information for GRE Test Scores.

Additional Questions

Are there independent study courses for non-degree seeking students?

We do not have any independent study courses for non-degree seeking students.

I would like to prepare for graduate admission by auditing some of your graduate courses. Is this possible?

We do not allow auditing of our graduate courses by anyone not enrolled in a UC graduate program.

Do you offer a masters degree in Psychology?

Although we do not offer a general master degree in Psychology, our department now offers an online Master of Legal and Forensic Psychology.

Can I apply to your program using a paper application form instead of the online forms?

There are no longer any paper application forms for admission to UCI. To apply, you must do so online.

The UCI online application provides students with a form for letter of recommendation writers. Do I have to use that form?

No -- separate letters are accepted but we prefer the recommender (letter writer) also complete the entire form rather than just a letter of recommendation. Please visit this page to learn more about recommendations.

Can I select the faculty member I wish to serve as my primary mentor during my graduate career?

If you are accepted into our graduate program, you will be assigned a faculty mentor based upon mutual interests and availability. One of the advantages of our program is that we encourage our students to network with several faculty during their graduate career. This may mean that your initial faculty-student pairing may change as you progress through the program.