Application Process

To apply to the Critical Social/Personality Psychology program, prospective students apply through the CUNY Graduate Center. Applications are due December 1st for Fall enrollment. Information on admissions requirements, information about tuition and financial assistance, as well as application instructions and forms can be found on the CUNY Graduate Center admissions page. We have also included some frequently asked questions about applying to our program here.

Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants

What is the theoretical orientation of the program?

The critical social/personality program focuses upon the history of psychology, classic and critical theory within social/personality psychology, wide exposure to varied research methods and practices and a commitment to research for social change. All of our courses take seriously the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability and other axes of inequality as they affect the lives we live, the communities in which we participate, the structural conditions in which we develop and the social movements we engage to create change.

Do I need to take the GRE Subject Test in Psychology?

The GRE subject test is recommended but not required.

What does my GRE score/GPA have to be to get in?

Obviously, the higher your score the better your chances, but we do evaluate each application very carefully and qualitatively. The most accurate information we can give is that most students have GRE scores above 650 on each section and high GPAs (over 3.2), but there are always exceptions.

What are the pre-requisites for applying to the program?

We require a major in psychology or substantial course work including Social Psychology, Research Methods and Statistics. In addition, the general GRE is required and the Psychology GRE highly recommended. There are many students in our program who have undergraduate degrees in subjects other than psychology, so that in itself is not a problem; in fact, we like to see a diversity of backgrounds. However, all applicants must take at least 15 undergraduate credits in psychology.

Can you apply to more than one psychology subprogram at CUNY in the same year?

Unfortunately, you cannot apply to more than one subprogram at a time.

How long does it take to get through the program?

Typically three to four years of courses, 60 credits; plus the first doctoral examination, second year project, second doctoral examination, dissertation proposal meeting, dissertation defense.

Can I go to the program in Social/Personality psychology part-time?

No, this is a full-time program. Although most students work in addition to the funding they receive from the Graduate Center, we expect students to be full time for years one and two. Classes are usually held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays all day. Many students continue to work part-time throughout the program despite this schedule.

Can I transfer credits?

The only credits that are transferable to our PhD program are graduate-level classes (either Master’s or PhD-level). The maximum number of graduate credits that you can transfer in is 12; transfer credits are always at the discretion of the director. Those credits generally go to elective courses because everyone receives the same, required, training.

Where can I find information about tuition?

Please visit The Graduate Center’s Tuition and Fees web page for current tuition and fee information.

What are my funding options?

There are various fellowships available at the Graduate Center. Please see the CUNY Graduate Center website on Financial Assistance.

Can I apply for federal financial aid?

For information about financial aid opportunities, please see the CUNY Graduate Center website on Financial Assistance.

Should I contact an individual faculty member to inquire about working with him or her?

Once students are admitted, they have the opportunity to explore the research activities of as many faculty members as they like and can choose to work with whichever faculty members have a mutual interest. You may contact an individual faculty member as an applicant but you are applying to the program, not to work with a specific person. In many programs, students are admitted specifically to work with a particular faculty member, and that faculty member virtually chooses the student on his or her own. Our admissions process is very different. All applicants are considered by the entire admissions committee and are compared to all other applicants to provide us with a strong and diverse incoming class.

Can I work with more than one mentor?

Yes. In the first year, students will participate in a Research Apprenticeship with their advisor. Once students begin work on their second year project, we encourage students to work with one or more than one mentor. The faculty are extremely diverse. They represent a range of theoretical perspectives, methodological orientations and approaches to research. Students are encouraged to develop close working relationships with mentor(s), participate in their labs/research groups and publish with varied faculty.

If I am assigned a mentor, do I have to stay with them?

Students are assigned an advisor for the first year and then are invited to remain with, select another or involve an additional mentor for subsequent work.

Will I be published once I graduate?

Students are encouraged to join ongoing research projects and then initiate independent research. In all of these projects, they are expected to publish. Please review students’ and professors’ CVs and you will notice varied publications with multiple authors. The program has an explicit commitment to students’ broad access to involvement in diverse research projects, opportunities to publish and teaching prior to graduation.

Where are people usually placed once they graduate?

Most graduates have secured faculty positions in Psychology departments, Sexuality Studies, Human Development, Women’s Studies, Medical Schools and Schools of Education. Many have been awarded post-doctoral fellowships. Some work for not for profit organizations, think tanks, community agencies or corporate positions.

What research opportunities are available?

Students in the program have a variety of opportunities both on and off campus to participate in research. Some students participate actively in research projects conducted by individual faculty members and varied research teams and Centers at the Graduate Center and throughout NYC. Others take advantage of the wealth of opportunities that are available in New York. In recent years, for example, students have worked in research projects with schools, health care facilities, youth development organizations, prison reform groups, international human rights organizations, evaluation and research not for profits, and community based organizations.


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