Application Process

To apply to the PhD Program in Critical Social/Personality Psychology program, prospective students apply to the Ph.D. Program in Psychology and select Critical Social/Personality Psychology as their Training Area. Applications are due December 1st for Fall enrollment. Information on admissions requirements, information about tuition and financial assistance, and application instructions and related forms can be found on The Graduate Center’s admissions page. Each training area offered by the CUNY Graduate Center Ph.D. Programs in Psychology handles its own admissions processes. Below is information about the admissions process and requirements for applying to the PhD Program in Critical Social/Personality Psychology.

Application Review

Applications are reviewed by the faculty and students on the Critical Social/Personality Psychology Admissions Committee. Application packages include three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended.

All applicants must have at least 15 undergraduate or graduate credits in psychology prior to application. They must also have completed a statistics course and hold at least an undergraduate degree upon entry into the program. Although many students in our program hold undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in psychology, some students also have undergraduate degrees in diverse subjects along with substantial coursework in research methods and statistics in fields other than psychology, these diverse academic backgrounds bring both breadth and depth to critical inquiry in our studies. 

Admissions Timeline

  • Deadline for application is December 1

  • December & January: Initial application review completed and finalists selected.

  • Late January & Early February: Finalists are interviewed by the Admissions Committee, and also meet with other students and faculty.

  • February: All applicants are notified whether their application was accepted, placed on the waiting list, or declined.

  • April 15th: Deadline for admitted applicants to accept or decline the admissions offer.

  • Mid/Late April: Applicants on the waiting list are informed whether their application was either accepted or declined.

Contact Information and Visiting

You are welcome to visit our weekly Critical Psychology Colloquia series from 11:45-1:45 p.m. on Wednesdays. This is a good time to experience how the program works first-hand and meet people – your potential colleague. Please contact our Training Area Head Michelle Fine in advance to introduce yourself and inquire about upcoming colloquium meetings.

If you are interested in the scholarship of a specific professor, please contact that professor directly to introduce yourself. You might inquire about sitting in on that instructor’s class or setting up a meeting.

If you want to apply to our program, a copy of the application instructions for all Graduate Center programs can be found on the GC's How to Apply page.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants

The Critical Social/Personality Psychology program focuses on the history of psychology, classic and critical theory within social/personality psychology, wide exposure to varied research methods and practices, and a commitment to research for social change. All of our courses take seriously the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and other axes of inequality as they affect the lives we live, the communities in which we participate, the structural conditions in which we develop, and the social movements with which we engage to create change.

No. we use a holistic approach to admissions that does not consider GRE scores

No. You can apply to only one psychology training area or department at CUNY per admissions cycle.

On average, students complete their degree in 5-7 years. Typically, this includes three to four years of coursework for at least 60 credits; and completing the first and second doctoral examination. Students then proceed to their dissertation proposal and exam, and to the dissertation research, writing, and, when that is complete, the dissertation defense.

No, this is a full-time program. Although most students work in addition to funding they may receive from the Graduate Center, we expect students to be full-time for years one and two. Most classes are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the day. Many students continue to work part-time throughout the program despite this schedule.

Currently, online doctoral degrees are not available at the Graduate Center. We occasionally offer completely virtual or hybrid courses. However, 80% of the courses are in person and many additional activities are in person.

Students pay a lower rate of tuition if they live in-state. However, students occasionally commute.  Some find it feasible to live in other cities, states, and other countries for portions of their doctoral education. This is usually only feasible after coursework is complete.

We allow 12-15 graduate credits (Master’s or PhD) to transfer into our program. The Training Area Head and Executive Officer determine which courses and the amount of courses that are eligible for transfer.

Please visit the Graduate Center’s Tuition and Fees web page for current tuition and fee information.

There are various fellowships available at the Graduate Center. Please see the CUNY Graduate Center website on Financial Assistance.

For information about financial aid opportunities, please see the CUNY Graduate Center website on Financial Assistance.

Absolutely. We’ve accepted students from Mexico, Palestine, Russia, Iran, Germany, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey and many other countries around the globe. International students are welcome to apply and should visit the Office of International Students website for further information.

Students may contact individual faculty members as an applicant to learn about their research but you are applying to the program, not to work with a specific person. Once students are admitted, there are opportunities to work with individual faculty members in a variety of ways.

Some programs admit students to work with specific faculty members. In that admissions model, faculty members more directly choose the applicants they wish to work with until graduation. In contrast, our program is invested in a “cohort model” of admissions. All applicants are considered by the entire admissions committee, which includes faculty and students. The admissions committee seeks to identify strong and diverse individual candidates but also, considers the strengths of the incoming class as a collective unit - a cohort - and how it might promote the best academic environment within and across the program cohorts.

The faculty are extremely diverse. They represent a range of theoretical perspectives, methodological orientations, and approaches to research. Students are encouraged to develop close working relationships with one or more mentors, participate in their labs/research groups, and publish with varied faculty. Students are assigned an advisor but encouraged to seek support from other mentors as well. As students advance to the second doctoral exam and especially the dissertation, students should choose a primary advisor/chair to work most closely with but are still encouraged to have strong mentor relationships with other faculty.

Students are encouraged to join ongoing research projects and then initiate independent research. In all of these projects, they are encouraged to publish. Please review students’ and professors’ CVs and you will notice varied publications with multiple authors. The program has an explicit commitment to students’ broad involvement in diverse research projects, opportunities to publish, and teaching prior to graduation.

Students graduate Critical Social/Personality Psychology well-qualified for many academic and applied positions. Our graduates hold faculty positions in departments such as Psychology, Sexuality Studies, Human Development, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Medical Schools, Social Work, and Schools of Education. Our graduates also work in not-for-profit institutions, think tanks, research centers, community-based organizations, government agencies, and administrative positions. We are committed to helping students prepare for the career path they wish to pursue.

There are a variety of paid and unpaid opportunities both on and off-campus to participate in research. Some students participate actively in research projects conducted by individual faculty members and varied research teams and Centers at the Graduate Center and throughout NYC. Others take advantage of the wealth opportunities that are available in New York. In recent years, for example, students have worked in research projects with schools, health care facilities, youth development organizations, prison reform groups, international human rights organizations, and evaluation, research, not-for-profit, and community-based organizations.