The Graduate Program in Psychology at Columbia

Chair: Niall Bolger

Director of Graduate Studies: Kevin Ochsner

Director of Graduate Student Teaching: Lois Putnam

Designed to provide a broad base in psychology, the program also offers an opportunity for intensive research. In addition to a Graduate Proseminar Series, advanced seminars are offered each year within three broad areas: perception and cognition (the 4200s), psychobiology and neuroscience (the 4400s), and personality and social psychology (the 4600s). Research, integral to the graduate career, is conducted during all five years of the program. During the first three semesters each student completes an initial research project culminating in the MA essay. Subsequent research in conjunction with faculty members provides the basis for the dissertation.

The department is relatively small; each year it admits about twelve full-time students. The obvious benefit to such a highly selective system is that it affords graduate students the opportunity to become acquainted with all research conducted in the department by faculty as well as fellow graduate students.

The program is a five-year consecutive series of classes and research culminating in the Ph.D. degree. All students accepted to the five-year program receive a Faculty Fellowship, which supports tuition, health insurance fees, and an annual stipend. All fellows receive equal awards and the stipend level is adjusted each year to keep pace with inflation. Additionally, students receive subsidized housing near the campus.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are both considered to be central to the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Below is a timeline of what you can expect to be doing over the course of your five years in the program.

The First Year

During your first year, you'll become familiar with the literature in your area of interest by reading as much as you can, meeting regularly with faculty members and attending lab meetings all of which help generate interesting ideas for research. You'll begin planning and designing some research studies and collecting pilot data. If you’re eligible, you can apply for Fellowship Awards (e.g., National Science Foundation Fellowship). You'll take the first two courses in the Proseminar seminar sequence, a statistics course and an elective seminar course. During the summer you'll plan your masters thesis research and collect data.

The Second Year

You will continue your masters thesis research and other research projects and complete the final sequence of Proseminar courses and elective requirements. During the spring semester, you'll complete an oral presentation of your masters thesis work and write and submit your masters paper to two department faculty members for approval. You should begin attending national conferences in your research area and present your research.

The Third Year

You'll complete any additional coursework requirements and work on your three comprehensives and submit them at the end of the year.


The Fourth & Fifth Years

In your fourth year you'll submit your dissertation proposal for approval to three departmental faculty members and apply for dissertation fellowships, and/or research funding (e.g., National Research Service Award). You'll conduct your dissertation research and prepare your job search materials.

In your fifth year you'll write and defend your dissertation and send out job search materials.