Learning Goals and Objectives

The Social-Personality Psychology Doctoral Program trains psychologists in the scientific study of how individuals navigate the social world around them and why they do it the way they do. 


The Social-Personality Psychology Doctoral Program’s training model is sequential, cumulative and increasingly complex as students advance because the program is designed to produce independent scholars. The education and training objectives of the program are addressed through an interrelated program of academic course work and research experience. Students are involved in empirical research continuously from the time of their arrival in the program. Program unity is achieved through core experience required of all social-personality students. Diversity is also encouraged and available through specialty training, electives and research activities in the laboratories of faculty outside of the primary advisor. Students also participate in other less structured activities, including colloquia, social brown bag presentations, professional association activities, conference presentations, interdisciplinary campus events, department governance and peer advising. Thus, students not only complete a rigorous academic program but also become members of the psychological community interacting with program faculty, professional social psychologists outside the program, and fellow students on both scholarly and personal levels.

Specific Goals and Objectives for PhD Students in Social-Personality Psychology

Goal 1: Students will acquire and demonstrate knowledge and skill necessary to plan, conduct, evaluate and disseminate research in areas relevant to social psychology.

Objective 1-A: All students will demonstrate skill in critical review and evaluation of the current corpus of knowledge available on the problem of interest. 

Expected Competencies: This will be evidenced by: (1) successful completion of courses that involve literature review activities, (2) successful completion of a Second-Year Project, a Third-Year Paper, and a PhD dissertation proposal, and in all of these domains, final products that demonstrate accurate and effective review of relevant literature, and (3) participation in manuscript preparation activities. 

Objective 1-B: Students will exhibit competence in statistics and research methods. 

Expected Competencies: This will be evidenced by successful completion of three required courses in statistics and one course in research methods that cover theory and application of research design and statistical analysis relevant to social psychology, and of an empirical Second-Year Project and PhD dissertation project involving sound research methods and data-analysis procedures. 

Objective 1-C: All students will demonstrate skill in planning and conducting increasingly independent theoretical and empirical research. This research will be of high quality and completed in a timely manner. 

Expected Competencies: Evidence of competence in meeting this objective includes students' successful completion of: (1) the Second-Year Project by the end of June of the second year, (2) the Third-Year Paper by December 15 of the fourth year, (3) the PhD dissertation proposal by the end of May in the fourth year, and (4) the PhD dissertation defense at the conclusion of the fifth year. 

Objective 1-D: Students are encouraged to collaborate with social and non-social faculty on other research beyond the Second-Year Project, Third-Year Paper and PhD dissertation.

Expected Competencies: This participation may include paid research assistant positions or unpaid work as an assistant or collaborator. Students are expected to show evidence of research activities including helping plan, execute, supervise, and/or analyze research, and preparing research publications and presentations. 

Objective 1-E: Students are encouraged to disseminate the results of their theoretical and empirical work to the profession and broader community. 

Expected Competencies: Students can display competencies related to this objective through student presentations at regional and national conferences, publication in professional outlets, preparation of technical reports, and research summaries, etc. to policy-making groups, practitioners, and consumers. In addition, all students are required to present at least once every academic year at the Social Psychology Brown Bag attended by students and faculty.

Objective 1-F: All students will demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of diversity issues in research. 

Expected Competencies: Competencies for this objective are evidenced by (1) successful completion of courses that incorporate information and discussion on diversity and (2) student sensitivity to these issues in their theoretical and empirical research. 

Objective 1-G: All students will demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues in research. 

Expected Competencies: Students are expected to increase their knowledge of, and sensitivity to issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research with human subjects; improve their ability to make ethical and legal choices in the face of conflicts involving scientific research with human subjects; to become knowledgeable about the regulations, policies, statutes, and guidelines that govern the conduct of research with human subjects.

Goal 2: Students will acquire and demonstrate broad knowledge of psychology and demonstrate ability to integrate these areas with social psychology.

Objective 2-A: All students will document knowledge of diverse areas of psychology. 

Expected Competencies: These competencies are evidenced by successful completion of departmental distribution requirements that entail completion of courses in behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology and clinical psychology.  

Objective 2-B: Students' PhD dissertation projects will reflect appreciation of diverse areas of psychology. 

Expected Competencies: Students’ PhD dissertation proposals, oral defenses and written projects will include satisfactory coverage of the areas of psychological sciences that are relevant to the research topic addressed by the dissertation. 

Goal 3: Students will acquire knowledge and skills necessary to conduct themselves professionally and to prepare for careers in social psychology.

Objective 3-A: All students will attend and present in a Social Psychology Brown Bag on current research in social psychology. 

Expected Competencies: Attendance at the Social Psychology Brown Bag is mandatory for students.  

Objective 3-B: Students' progress through the program will reflect active participation, timely progress, and satisfactory performance in all aspects of the social program. 

Expected Competencies: Specific rates of progress will reflect students' individual training needs, although the program is structured to allow completion in five years.  

Objective 3-C: Students are expected to participate in professional activities at the Department, University, community, and profession levels. 

Expected Competencies: Competencies for this objective include involvement in professional organizations; membership on Department, University, or professional organization committees; participation in review activities; presentations; publications; grant writing; and teaching.