Applying to the Graduate Program

  • Applicants to the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience must complete the general application form (see the Graduate School Admissions page). The application can be started and saved as many times as you need. Once you hit the submit button, however, NOTHING can be changed, added or updated. Please check out the application FAQ before calling with questions.
  • Please note: Your application must be submitted by 10 p.m. Mountain Time, November 15.
  • Remember, once you hit the submit button, NOTHING CAN BE CHANGED, ADDED OR UPDATED.

What we are looking for:
Acceptance into our program will be based on prior coursework, research experience, and a good fit with the research programs of our faculty. Although students with a wide range of experiences may be accepted, students with a research background tend to be the strongest candidates. Successful applicants to the Behavioral Neuroscience subplan often have taken courses such as cell biology, organic chemistry, neuroscience, biopsychology, biochemistry, research methods, and statistics. All other subplans require a strong background in statistics and research methods.

In addition, in connection with the Colorado Diversity Initiative, CU Boulder has a program intended to introduce college seniors interested in graduate school (PhD only) to the outstanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) doctoral programs at CU Boulder. For more information (eligibility, etc.), see the Colorado Diversity Initiative webpage.

Program Subplan Information

If you apply to work with someone who is not actively recruiting students, your application won't be considered:

Faculty Recruiting Students for Fall 2023

Steps to Applying for the PhD Program

In applying for the PhD program, you will be required to:

  1. Have a bachelor’s or equivalent degree from an accredited institution. Complete the Graduate Application (see the Graduate School Admissions page).
  2. Include a Statement of Purpose in which you describe:
    •  Your specific research interests and career goals
    • Past research or work experiences that have prepared you to pursue your interests.
    • Reasons for applying to CU, including your fit with potential faculty mentors.
    • For applicants to the clinical subplan only, also describe volunteer or paid work experience in a mental health or human services agency.

    These can usually be addressed in ~3 pages, single-spaced.

  3. The GRE General score requirements are specific to each of the 5 subplans. Please carefully read the instructions below:
    • Behavioral Neuroscience
      • GRE scores are not required and will not be considered for admission into the Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program.
    • Behavioral, Psychiatric, and Statistical and Genetics
      • GRE General scores are optional. GRE General Test results are one of the factors weighed by faculty when they are provided. However, they are not required, and not submitting GRE scores should not negatively impact your application.  
      • If provided, GRE scores must arrive by November 15, 2022. Use the UNIVERSITY CODE 4841 to ensure your scores are reported.
    • Clinical Psychology
      • GRE General scores are optional. GRE General Test results are one of the factors weighed by some faculty considering applicants.
      • The Psychology GRE scores are not required.
      • GRE scores must arrive by November 15, 2022, to ensure that the application is complete for consideration. Use the UNIVERSITY CODE 4841 to ensure your scores are reported.
    • Cognitive Psychology
      • GREs are optional but strongly encouraged. Admissions decisions are primarily made by individual faculty. You should consult your preferred mentor(s) on how much they weigh GRE scores.
      • GRE scores must arrive by November 15, 2022. Use the UNIVERSITY CODE 4841 to ensure your scores are reported.
    • Social Psychology
      • GRE scores are not required and will not be considered for admission into the Social Psychology Graduate Program.
  4. Applicants whose education was not in English must earn a score of 90 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), 7.0 on the  International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or 120 on the Duolingo English Test
  5. Pay an application fee of $60 for US citizens, $80 for international applicants upon submitting your application.
    • The Graduate School offers application fee waivers for participants in the following programs: AmeriCorps (currently serving), Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), McNair Scholars Program, Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholars Program, Peace Corps (currently serving), Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), Teach for America, and the Leadership Alliance. If you are in the U.S. military you will receive an automatic fee waiver as a thank you for your service (active duty, veteran, previously served, and active reserve are all eligible for this automatic fee waiver). If you are affiliated with one of these programs, please send proof of your affiliation to before you submit your application, and they will process your fee waiver for you.

      Graduate Application FAQs (scroll way down on this page to "Submit Application & Fee Payment")

      The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience also will consider additional waivers to support our department's strategic vision for diversity and inclusion. These include applicants from groups severely underrepresented in STEM graduate education, as defined by the National Science Foundation. These groups include African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives that hold tribal membership, and Pacific Islanders (native peoples of Hawaii, Guam and Samoa). Individuals with disabilities; i.e., physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds (examples: Pell Grant or WIC eligible, formerly in foster care, first generation, etc.). Other reasons may also be considered. Visit our fee waiver form page to submit your request.

  6. Provide 3 letters of recommendation. Upon submitting your application, an email will be sent to each recommender cited on your application.
  7. Provide ONE unofficial copy of each transcript from any institution at which you have previously studied. Transcripts may be sent prior to submitting the application; just be sure the name on the transcript matches the name on the application. Follow the instructions for uploading unofficial transcripts to your application.

Interview and Admissions Process

Graduate applications will be reviewed through January. After all applications have been reviewed, individual faculty members will contact prospective candidates and generally invite them to the campus for a departmental interview. Behavioral, Psychiatric, and Statistical Genetics, Clinical, Cognitive, and Social subplans conduct interview weekends whereas Behavioral Neuroscience invites candidates for individual interview dates.

Final decisions of acceptance are generally made in March after the admissions committee has met and all candidates have been evaluated. All candidates will be informed of their status via email.

For questions, contact Tim Greeson.