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Prospective Students FAQs


What is Experimental Psychology?

Experimental Psychology typically involves laboratory research in basic areas; most of the labs within our department do not work with clinical populations, counseling, or treatment. Here at UC San Diego the majority of your time is spent doing research starting from Year 1. Find out more about Experimental Psychology.

Do you have a Clinical Psychology program?

No, we do not. There is a joint doctoral program for Clinical Psychology through San Diego State University and the Psychiatry department here at UC San Diego. Find out more about this program.

Do you have a Master's program?

No, we do not have a terminal Master’s program. However, the first year of our PhD program is roughly equivalent to a Master’s program, so after you’ve completed the necessary requirements, you are eligible to apply for and receive a Master’s. 

What is the average time it takes your students to earn their Ph.D.?

On average our students graduate within 5-6 years, with 8 years being the maximum.


If I don’t have a Master’s degree, can I still apply?

Yes! In fact, most of our applicants only have a Bachelor’s degree. You can earn a Master’s degree on your way to earning a PhD in our program (see answer above). 

How many people typically apply to your program and how many get in?

These numbers vary each year. For the 10 application cycles between Fall 2010 and Fall 2019, we admitted an average of 7% of students who applied. For Fall 2019 entry, 315 people applied, 26 were admitted, and 15 accepted. 

What is a typical GPA of an admitted applicant?

We review applications holistically, so there isn’t one number that defines a student who is a good fit for our department. However, to give you a more concrete sense of what numbers we tend to see in our admitted applicants, the median GPA of admitted applicants from Fall 2019 was 3.8 from their most recent institution. 

What are typical GRE scores of an admitted applicant?

We review applications holistically, so there isn’t one number that defines a student who is a good fit for our program (many application reviewers even consider the GRE one of the least important factors!). However, to give you a more concrete sense of what numbers we tend to see in our admitted applicants, for the 5 application cycles between Fall 2015 and Fall 2019, the mean verbal score was in the 90th percentile and the mean quantitative score was in the 75th percentile. 

Can I apply to start in the Spring?

No. New graduate students are only admitted to the program to begin in the Fall quarter of each academic year. 

How can I submit my letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation can be uploaded into your online application. Letters of recommendation can also be directly mailed to our department by a letter service or the applicant (be sure it is confidential); however we strongly prefer they are submitted online.

Can my application fee be waived?

It can be, if you submit a waiver and you are approved. Find out more information on the UC San Diego Application Fee Waiver process. 

Where can I find free resources on applying to graduate school?

Below are a list of helpful free resources available through UC San Diego but, if you're a current student, your university may also have resources available for you. 
  • Application resources from the UC San Diego Career Center: click here 
  • Application resources from the UC San Diego Undergraduate Department of Psychology: click here

International Students:

Besides the TOEFL, are there any additional requirements an international student should be aware of?

The International Students and Programs Office (ISPO) is a resource for all admitted international students. For example, upon being admitted, you should work with them in order to secure the appropriate visa type. 

I am an international student but I believe I should be exempt from the TOEFL. Can I be exempt?

You may be exempt from the TOEFL requirement if all of the following are true: 

  • You attended a university-level accredited institution
  • Your language of instruction was English 
  • You studied in a country where English is the dominant language 
  • You studied at the institution full-time for at least one uninterrupted year, and received at least a B average

Do international students have to pay out of pocket for non-resident tuition?

No. The Department covers non-resident tuition for international students during Years 1-3 and non-resident tuition is no longer charged by UC San Diego after advancing to candidacy (which occurs the summer after Year 3). Find out more information about financial support


Where do students typically live?

Many students live in Graduate and Family Housing near campus, as well as fun places off campus such as Hillcrest, North Park, and downtown. 

How does the base support amount compare to living costs?

Our 9 month financial support package provides a very secure income to meet your basic living expenses, meaning you know you’ll get paid regardless of the funding your advisor and lab have. There are many opportunities to supplement this stipend as well, during the academic year and during the summer. For example, many advisors provide their students with extra funds for summer research, and there are additional TAships and paid graduate student leadership positions available throughout the year, depending on your interests! 

How can I get more funding?

There are many extra funding opportunities within our Department, such as paid graduate leadership positions, summer research positions, and summer TAships. Our department also provides support for applying to external fellowships, and members of our department have a variety of external awards, including the NSF GRFP, the NDSEG, and even Fulbright Fellowships.

What if I’m a parent or planning to be a parent at some point during my time as a graduate student? What additional financial support is available to me?

The graduate student union has negotiated for a very progressive package of support for graduate student parents. Find out more here