The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder offers a PhD degree with five subplans:

  • Behavioral, Psychiatric and Statistical Genetics
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology

For detailed information about each field of study, visit the department's Graduate Program Subplans webpage.

Note: The department does not offer a terminal master's degree program.


All students are admitted with the expectation that they will work toward the PhD degree.  Students receive a Master of Arts degree in the course of working toward the PhD. Students who receive the PhD degree must demonstrate that they are proficient in some broad subject of learning and that they can critically evaluate work in this field. Furthermore, they must show the ability to work independently in their chosen field and must make an original contribution of significance to the advancement of knowledge.

In the first year of graduate study, there is a first-year research requirement that starts the student on an active program of research. First-year graduate students typically enroll in a two-semester graduate statistical sequence. The student also must enroll in a sequence of courses designed to give exposure to various research topics and methods. In later years, a variety of advanced research seminars are taught on a regular basis.  

Students complete a master's degree (MA) based on research and coursework completed within their first 2-3 years. Before admission to candidacy for the PhD degree, the student must pass a comprehensive examination in the field of concentration and related fields. This examination tests the student mastery of a broad field of knowledge, not merely the formal coursework completed. Upon completing the comprehensives, students engage in the dissertation research, culminating in a public oral defense.