Social Area Requirements
The Social Psychology Program provides training that is designed to prepare students for academic careers in social psychology. This is done by involving students throughout their graduate training in tasks and activities that are performed by experimental social psychologists. All applicants at the graduate level are expected to complete the Ph.D. within 4-5 years. Most of the Ph.D.s mentored by the core faculty have taken positions at colleges and universities.
In seeking to maximize students' exposure to situations that foster the development of scientific skills, the Social Psychology Program is designed to provide three major categories of training experiences:
- Research participation
- Professional contact and development
- Course work
Each student is expected to work closely with program faculty members. At first, the student gains an introduction to active research programs by assisting in ongoing research. As competence and experience are gained, the student assumes a larger role in the conception and initiation of projects, eventually becoming a full collaborator. Although students are expected to work closely with one of the core program faculty in the first two years, a formal requirement of the program is that students complete new research with another program faculty member in their third year.
Further, all students are expected to publish research papers. Typically, this work will be in collaboration with their mentors as this allows the mentors to foster the students' development, their appreciation for relevant literature, and their analytic and writing skills. The training program is structured such that a written research report by each student is due prior to an annual review at the end of each academic year.
Professional Contact and Development
An important part of acquiring professional skills is awareness of the activities of other professionals. In addition to their participation in research at the University of Chicago, students become acquainted with current research at other institutions by means of various area activities, including an ongoing colloquium series and weekly workshops.
All students in the program are expected to subscribe to at least two current journals (e.g., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin) and are expected to be familiar with the new research reported in them. Students are also expected to read broadly in the social sciences and to develop an understanding of the history of the field.
Each year the students in the area are expected to attend one or more professional conventions and to present papers often. At conventions, students can hear reports of current research a few years before it appears in print and have informal contact with colleagues from other institutions.
The University of Chicago supports an active program of visiting speakers. The Social Psychology Program also organizes a brownbag series to hear speakers describe their recent research in social psychology. Students also generally have lunch and meetings with invited speakers to facilitate discussion in a more informal setting.
The general philosophy of the curriculum is to provide students with the requisite knowledge and skills to excel in mainstream experimental social psychology. Departmental breadth requirements and electives provide students with an appreciation for the breadth of the science of psychology and prepare students for a career as a scholar.
Students in the Social Psychology Program take additional graduate courses in quasi-experimental design, statistical analysis, scientific inference, general social psychology, and areas of emphasis. Students arrange their course schedules individually with their academic advisors.
Students admitted to the Social Psychology Program at the University of Chicago receive tuition waivers and financial support.