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, 
    December 1
  • 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 Area (sub-plans) Information

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. GRE General scores are required for 4 of the subplans:
    • Behavioral, Statistical, and Psychiatric Genetics
    • Clinical Psychology
    • Cognitive Psychology
    • Social Psychology

    GRE scores are not required for the Behavioral Neuroscience subplan.

    The Psychology GRE scores are not required for any subplan, but may be beneficial to applicants to the clinical subplan.

    Use the UNIVERSITY CODE 4841 to ensure your scores are reported. GRE scores must arrive by the December 1 deadline to ensure that the application is complete for consideration for the Behavioral, Statistical, and Psychiatric Genetics; Clinical Psychology; Cognitive Psychology; and Social Psychology subplans. The department requires GRE scores that have been taken no more than 5 years prior to the year in which the application is made. You may visit the GRE website for more information about the exam.

  4. TOEFL: Applicants whose education was not in English must earn a score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
  5. Pay an application fee of $60 for US citizens, $80 for international applicants upon submitting your application.
  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