Graduate Admissions

Frequently Asked Questions

Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program in Psychology (with Master’s Along the Way)


What doctoral Ph.D. programs are offered by the USF Psychology Department?

We offer the Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program in Psychology. Students can enter with a Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution or they can earn a Master of Arts Along the Way as part of the Ph.D. program. The Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program in Psychology is committed to furthering our understanding of behavior and mental processes utilizing the methods of science.  Graduate students are trained in both basic and applied research to become independent scholars. Students work with one or more faculty members engaging in a broad range of research.
Students apply for one of three concentrations in our Ph.D. in Psychology major:

Note: We also have a separate free-standing M.A. graduate program in Psychological Sciences. Psychological Sciences is a self-contained Master of Arts degree that includes the study of biological, social, developmental and cognitive bases of health and human behavior. This degree is different from the Master of Arts Along the Way and is not part of the Ph.D. program. Admission into or completion of the M.A. degree in Psychological Sciences has no bearing on admissions into the Ph.D. program. We also offer two Graduate certificates: one in Data Analysis; and one in Infant-Family Mental Health. The certificates are also separate and independent from the Ph.D. program.

How can I obtain more admissions information about the Psychology Ph.D. programs?

To learn more, please see the Contact Us page.

Where is the Doctoral (Ph.D.) program located?

The Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program in Psychology (with Master of Arts Along the Way) is located primarily on the Tampa campus.  (The M.A. in Psychological Sciences and the Graduate Certificate programs are located primarily on the St. Petersburg campus.)

What can I do to improve my chances of being selected for your Ph.D. program?

For all concentrations (Clinical, CNS, and I-O), research experience is particularly important. Almost all students entering into our Ph.D. program have worked as research assistants. Many entering students have presented their research at a conference and some have published their research. Only a small percentage of applicants are selected for our majors. Therefore it is recommended that applicants apply to several universities (e.g., 10 or more would not be unreasonable for Clinical applicants). Following this strategy will increase your chances of acceptance into at least one graduate program. The APA website Students section contains resources for applying to graduate schools.

Can I apply if I just want a Master’s degree?

Not for the Doctoral (Ph.D.) Program in Psychology (with Master of Arts Along the Way).  You may not enter that major with the intention of obtaining only a master’s degree.  If you cannot commit to the Ph.D. major, you might consider our Master of Arts (M.A.) in Psychological Sciences or investigate other schools that offer a terminal master’s major in Psychology.

Can I apply if I’m not scheduled to take the GRE before the deadline?

Please see the specific GRE information for each concentration:

If you plan to submit GRE scores, a copy of the unofficial GRE Score Report should be uploaded to the online application (in PDF format) before the deadline. If you take the computer adaptive GRE exam, please plan your examination date for November or earlier. If you take the written GRE exam, please plan your examination date for September or earlier because scores from the written GRE exam take approximately six weeks to reach USF. 

Can I apply if I won’t receive my bachelor’s degree until after the deadline?

Yes.  If you have one or two semesters before obtaining your bachelor’s degree, you may apply as long as your upper-level GPA remains at least a 3.0.  You will need to request an additional official transcript showing that your bachelor’s degree was awarded before being officially accepted by the university.

Can I apply if my bachelor’s degree is not in Psychology?

Yes.  Although most applicants have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, applicants who are particularly strong in related areas (e.g., research experiences, natural sciences, business for I-O applicants) are eligible for admission. Regardless, it is highly desirable for applicants to have at least a minimal background in Psychology and in research methods (e.g., Introductory Psychology, Experimental Design, Statistics).

Do I need to take the GRE Psychology Test?

No. Only the GRE General Test is required.

A person writing one of my recommendation letters will be away from the office and may not be able to upload the letter in time to meet the deadline. Can she/he send the letter directly to you?

We first suggest asking another person to provide a letter of recommendation.  However, as long as all other application documents are received before the deadline, we will accept one letter sent via email to Brittany Vojnovic.

Is the Immunization form required with my application?

No. The Immunization form is to alert you of the policy. The completed form is required only if you are admitted.

Is there a form, other than the online graduate application, that I need to submit for USF fellowships, or for assistantships from the major?

Some fellowships are by department nomination only. Accepted applicants meeting eligibility requirements need to submit forms for the other various applicable USF fellowships and scholarships offered at the university for incoming students. See the Graduate Studies fellowships/scholarships website.  However, you do not need to submit a form to request consideration for a departmental assistantship (e.g., research assistantship, teaching assistantship).


In what areas of research are your faculty currently involved?

You can find summaries of faculty members’ work at our website. There you will find links to their pages. If you want to learn even more about particular faculty members, you may email them at the address listed on their web pages.

What is the average number of years to complete the program?

The entire Ph.D. program usually takes five to six years to complete. Clinical students must also complete a one-year internship. I-O students must complete the program in six years.

Would I be able to continue working full-time at my current job if I enter your major?

No. Graduate school requires a focused commitment to your studies and related activities.

I have already received a Master’s degree from another institution. Would it be counted towards the Ph.D. degree in your major?

Many incoming students already have a Master’s degree. Students entering with a Master’s degree can waive previously taken graduate courses that are judged to be equivalent to requirements in our Ph.D. program, and can potentially transfer up to 15 credits toward the Ph.D. However, all of the course requirements from our Masters Along the Way must be met either by waiving the requirement based on courses already taken in the previous Master’s degree or by taking the courses en route to the Ph.D. Decisions about course waivers and credit transfers can only be made after review once an applicant has been accepted into the program. Each individual case must be evaluated by the concentration after admission. Likewise, it is sometimes possible to count a completed Master’s thesis if it is judged equivalent in quality to theses conducted by students in our major. After acceptance into the major, a faculty committee will review your thesis to determine whether it can meet our requirements.

What kind of housing is available for your graduate students?

The cost of living in Tampa is affordable compared with many large cities.  Most one-bedroom apartments rent for approximately $800-900/month, and most two-bedroom apartments rent for $1,000-1,200/month.  There are many nice apartment complexes close to campus and there is a campus shuttle (the Bull Runner) that services this area. 

Do you offer your courses for the Psychology Ph.D. on-line?

The Psychology major primarily involves on-campus coursework and research. Course format may vary including face-to-face courses, fully on-line courses, or hybrid courses with a mixture of both. However, our Psychology Ph.D. is not an online program. For information about online programs, please visit Innovative Education.

Do you allow part-time students?

No. Students admitted to the graduate major are required to pursue their studies full time.

Do you offer a concentration in Forensic Psychology?

No. Although courses may include forensic psychology content, we do not have a specific concentration in forensic psychology.


Is it possible to take just a course or two at the graduate level, and, if so, how could I do that?

Perhaps. You may do so if the instructor permits you to enroll as a Non-Degree Seeking student. Our graduate-level courses are specifically designed for students already in our doctoral major. If you are a non-degree seeking student or in another graduate major, you must contact the instructor of the course and receive his/her permission to register. Then you must submit the online departmental Graduate course Permission to Register form. A department staff member will then enter a permit into the USF system and contact you to let you know you can register for the course. If you haven’t already, you will first need to apply to become a Non-Degree Seeking student.

What courses are you offering this semester?

Visit this page to find the Class Registration and Student Schedule Search instructions. Search for course offerings, class schedules, and (if you are accepted into the major) course registration is completed through MyUSF. Log in to view your registration appointment time and prepare to register for classes through OASIS. The Academic Calendar is where you will find dates for registration, drop/add, exam schedules, holidays, and graduation commencement. Ph.D. program course information is available from the USF Graduate Catalog in our Psychology M.A. (Along the Way) and Psychology Ph.D. degree sections.


What career options may be available to me after receiving a B.A./B.S., M.A. or Ph.D. degree in Psychology?

See resources available in the Student section of the USF Career Services website. The American Psychological Association (APA) Careers website also contains information at APA Careers and APA Students pages.

What are the potential career opportunities and expected career salary ranges of graduates from the USF Psychology Doctoral Majors who have earned their Ph.D. degree?

Clinical Psychology:  Professor in Psychology (research focus); Professor at a teaching hospital (research and clinical focus); Researcher; Administrator; Clinician.  High $180,000, Low $60,000.

Cognition, Neuroscience, and Social Psychology:  Postdoctoral researcher; Professor in Psychology Department; Applied research in industry.  High $150,000, Low $40,000.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology:  Professor in Psychology; Professor in Management; Consultant; Director of Assessment; Research Scientist; Research & Development Manager. See the comprehensive salary information.

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a Psy.D.?

In Clinical Psychology, the two most common doctoral degrees are the Ph.D. degree and the Psy.D. degree. The Ph.D. is the oldest doctorate and is generally regarded as a research degree. Though many professional psychology programs award it, they typically emphasize research training and the integration of research with applied or practical training.

The Psy.D. degree, first awarded in the late 1960s and increasingly popular among professional schools, is a professional degree in psychology. Programs awarding the Psy.D. degree place major emphasis on preparing their graduates for professional practice as practitioner-scholars and less emphasis on research training. Presently about 75% of the doctoral degree programs in Clinical Psychology award the Ph.D. degree.

Do I need a license to practice psychology?

Requirements for a license to practice in the mental health field (e.g., Clinical Psychology) are not standardized across states. In most states, however, you need some type of license or certificate to practice psychology as a clinician. The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) provides this information. The Florida Board of Psychology website provides licensure information, and licensure exam information at Psychologist Licensure by Examination and Psychologist Licensure by Examination: Foreign Educated. To search the Florida Statutes and Constitution for job licensure requirements, go to this page. Typically, those in non-clinical areas (e.g., CNS or I-O) do not require a license, and are not eligible to provide clinical services.

After graduating with a Ph.D. from a clinical psychology program, can I prescribe medication?

No. The Ph.D. in clinical psychology is a research- and practice-oriented degree (with more focus on clinical research here at USF)— it is not a medical degree.  If you wish to prescribe medication for mental health problems, you may want to consider going to medical school and then seeking a residency in psychiatry.  Psychiatrists and some general practitioners ("family doctors") are the most likely professionals to prescribe medication for mental health problems.  Note that in a few states (Louisiana, New Mexico, and Illinois), clinical psychologists can seek additional specialized training in prescribing medications, but relatively few do so.