Social & Personality

Experience in-depth training in the scientific study of social and personality processes in the field of psychology.

Students are expected to pursue the goals of research excellence, effective teaching, and scholarly breadth. Towards fulfilling these goals, graduate students engage in research from the outset of the program, first by working under the close supervision of an advisor and then by assuming a more independent role as specific research interests are formulated.

Program Overview

The social and personality program employs an “apprenticeship” model of research training in which students work closely with one or more faculty members. Students are encouraged to work on projects with people other than just their primary research supervisor(s). Each student is selected for his/her compatibility of research interests with one or more members of the social and personality faculty. The program is designed to expose students to social/personality research early in their graduate training and to equip them with the skills necessary for conducting their own high-quality research.

Graduate courses in the traditional areas of social and personality psychology are offered on a continuing basis and more specialized seminars are offered as well. Students are expected to take advantage of departmental courses and seminars in related interest areas such as clinical, cognitive, and developmental. Many students will take additional departmental courses in those statistical techniques most relevant to their research interests.

Coursework is selected in consultation with the student’s Advisory Committee, which comprises the student’s research supervisor and two additional faculty members chosen to assist in the student’s academic development. All students attend a weekly Social-Personality Seminar and give one research talk per year for as long as they are in the program.

Graduate students are encouraged to attend and present papers at international scientific meetings such as Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Canadian Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and Western Psychological Association.

The MA program requires full-time resident study and should be completed within two years.

  • 6 credits of Social/Personality core program courses
  • 6 credits of statistics
  • 3 credits of PSYC courses outside the Social/Personality area
  • Thesis (18 credits)

In addition, certain students may be required to complete additional courses or other undertakings because of deficiencies in their preparatory background; these requirements are specified by the program in coordination with the Graduate Student Progress Committee in writing during the first term of the student’s residence in the program.

Note: Students completing the MA program must apply for acceptance into the PhD program; acceptance depends upon the quality of the master’s-level work.

Full academic year residency is required for PhD students until the attainment of candidacy.

  • 6 credits of Social/Personality core program courses
  • 3 credits of PSYC courses outside the Social/Personality area
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation

Social/Personality students must take at least four (3-credit) courses from the following list during their graduate studies (MA and PhD). Not all courses are offered each year, and other courses may be substituted on a case-by-case basis with approval from the student’s supervisor, area, and Associate Head, Graduate Affairs.

PSYC 507 – Cultural Psychology
PSYC 512 – Psychology of Emotion
PSYC 525 – Attitudes and Social Cognition
PSYC 527 – Interpersonal Processes
PSYC 528 – Advanced Methods in Social Psychology and Personality
PSYC 529 – Special Topics in Social Psychology
PSYC 567 – Personality Dimensions and Structure
PSYC 569 – Contemporary Conceptual Issues in Personality
PSYC 590 – Survey of Social Psychology I
PSYC 591 – Survey of Social Psychology II

Because the GRE offers the same test to everyone, it is a way you can help balance out certain aspects of your application that may be weaker simply because of your circumstances. To give just a few examples, high GRE scores can help us see your application in another light if your school didn’t offer many research opportunities or if you could not maximize your research experience because you had to have a part time job; if your GPA reflects a period during which your performance was lower due to mental health; or if there is some other aspect of your application that is weaker in ways you cannot change now. As a result, we see GRE scores as a very valuable piece of information in your application.

At the same time, we also recognize that there may be reasons why, for some students, taking the GRE is impossible or nearly so. For this reason, while we strongly recommend including GRE scores, it is not officially required and you can apply without it.

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