How to Apply

          Mrs. Sabrina Flagg, Graduate Administrative Assistant
          Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
          University of Massachusetts Amherst
          Tobin Hall, Box 37710
          Amherst, MA 01003-7710

When to Apply

  • Applications to the Behavioral Neuroscience program, which are submitted through the interdepartmental Neuroscience and Behavior program, are due December 1.
  • Applications to the Clinical Psychology, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Science and Social Psychology are due December 1.

Required Materials

  • The Behavioral Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Science and Social Psychology program DO NOT require GRE scores.
  • The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience program WILL NOT require GRE scores for applicants applying in Dec 2023 for admission in the fall of 2024. Details about what should be included in your application are listed on the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience How to Apply page.
  • Additional information regarding admission to the interdepartmental Neuroscience and Behavior program can be found on their Admissions Requirements page.
  • If you are applying to the Clinical Psychology Program you must complete the Faculty Selection Form to indicate the faculty whom you would be most interested in working with.
  • Foreign students from a university in a non-English-speaking country: Either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System)-only the academic version of test is accepted, or PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English).
  • Unofficial or official transcripts from each college or university that you have attended. When having your institution send electronic transcripts, they need to go directly to the Graduate School at gradadm@grad.umass.eduNote: Upon admittance, official transcripts will need to be submitted, either electronically or in paper format, directly by each institution's Registrar to the Graduate Student Service Center. Please find more information here.
  • Three letters of recommendation, preferably from persons in your major academic field at the institution that you most recently attended.
  • A clear indication of which area of the psychology department you are applying to: Clinical Psychology, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Peace and the Prevention of Violence, or Social Psychology. If you are applying for training in neuroscience, apply to the Neuroscience and Behavior Program, not to the department of psychological and brain sciences.
  • A personal statement. State clearly, concisely, and in specific terms your academic and research interests. Also include your professional goals.
  • An application fee (see the Graduate School for current requirements). Please check Graduate School pages here and here for their application fee waiver information.  If you are eligible for a Graduate School fee waive you must apply to the Graduate School for the fee waiver, please do not request a fee waiver from PBS.  If you are not eligible for a fee waiver from the Graduate School, PBS has a number of application fee waivers it can grant to prospective students who have faced adversity, such as societal, economic or academic disadvantages. We will additionally consider application fee waiver requests from applicants who are first generation students and students who have been traditionally underrepresented in graduate education in psychology.  Please request a PBS fee waiver by completing this form prior to November 15th.  We will let you know if we can provide a waiver after that date.  If you are granted a fee waiver, you should select the "pay by check" option on the application. This selection will allow you to move through the application system without payment.  UPDATE (11/10/23): PBS DOES NOT HAVE ANY MORE FEE WAIVERS.  WE ARE SORRY TO REPORT THAT WE HAVE REACHED OUR MAXIMUM ALLOWANCE.  

Miscellaneous Considerations

  • Diversity. Psychology encompasses the entire range of human behavior in all its diversity. As a profession, psychology contributes to social justice as well as to individual well-being. The department, therefore, attempts to recruit a graduate student body that represents a variety of perspectives and types of social and cultural background. In order to achieve this end, special consideration is given to applicants (a) who have the potential to bring distinct perspectives to research and/or (b) who may use their training to address problems of groups with limited access to psychological services. All criteria ordinarily used by area admissions' committees also apply to candidates' competitiveness in terms of the above affirmative criteria. Important in this respect is performance in courses, particularly courses taken in the most recent years.
  • Interviews. Because of the large number of applications received, it is impossible to grant an interview to every applicant who requests one. Departmental policy with regard to interviews varies with each area of specialization. For example, if you are applying to the clinical program and are in the final pool of 30–40 applicants, you will be invited for an interview. If you are applying to one of the nonclinical programs and desire an interview, you may directly contact one of the faculty in the relevant area of specialization. In general, an interview will be granted only after a completed application has been received and reviewed. 
  • Entering with a master’s degree. Applicants who have had previous graduate work at another institution must fulfill all departmental requirements, either through courses taken at the University of Massachusetts or through the substitution of equivalent courses taken elsewhere. A master’s degree based solely on course work and/or examination, or a master's degree in a field other than psychology, does not fulfill the departmental requirement for a master's thesis. Therefore, such students are required to complete a master's thesis or its equivalent before proceeding on for the PhD.    
  • Desiderata Applicants. Applicants should have 18 credits or semester hours of psychology courses beyond the introductory course. Included in these courses should be at least one course in statistics and one in experimental psychology. The latter may be a laboratory course in a specialized area of psychology, such as physiological, sensation and perception, motivation, or learning and thinking. Applicants who have done outstanding work in related areas of study (e.g., physiology, in the case of neuroscience), but who do not have the required undergraduate credits in psychology, may also apply for admission. Such students may be asked to make up some undergraduate courses. In most cases, however, satisfactory performance in graduate-level core courses is sufficient to remove any undergraduate deficiencies.
  • Reapplying. The Graduate School holds all applications for one year. Therefore, if your application is received too late to be considered this year, or if following acceptance you decide not to attend the University of Massachusetts, or if your application is denied, you may reapply for admission next year. Some documents may be able to be used for reapplication, such as GRE scores (only pertinent to the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience program) and letters of recommendation. Contact the Graduate School 413-545-0722 for more information.