The Department of Psychology at Montana State University offers a research-oriented Ph.D. degree in Psychological Science. Psychological Science is a broad term for scientific research in the core academic areas of psychology.  These areas include cognitive, developmental, health, learning, physiological, and social psychology. Psychologists conducting psychological research work in a wide range of settings such as colleges and universities, health care facilities, federal & state government, small & large businesses, and many other places. Our program prepares students for careers in these settings.

The goal of our graduate program is to train students to think critically about theory and evidence, gain expertise in their area of specialty, understand and use statistical procedures, and to design, conduct, and publish high-quality psychological research. The psychology department at MSU does not have graduate faculty who specialize in clinical, counseling, community, or school psychology.  Moreover, we are not a practitioner-oriented program.  We are a program for students who want to conduct research and pursue research-oriented careers, academic or otherwise.

 For application procedures, click here.

Research and Mentorship

The psychology faculty at MSU uses an individualized mentorship approach to graduate training. Each student admitted to the program will be assigned a major professor (advisor) and a mentoring committee of 3 faculty members (major professor plus two others). At least two members of the mentoring committee must have their primary appointment in the Psychology Department. Students and their advisors work together to devise a program of coursework and research best suited for the students' career goals. The opportunity to conduct research with a faculty member is an important component of our graduate program as it provides training useful for the ultimate pursuit of obtaining research careers in academia and various organizations.

General areas of faculty research interest include: cognitive, developmental, health, learning, physiological, social psychology, and applied statistics and research methods.

To see faculty and their research interests, click here. Only professors, associate professors, and assistant professors serve as major professors.

Degree Requirements and Coursework

To satisfy the degree requirements, students must work intensively with their advisor to complete research projects culminating in a written master's thesis by their second year, and a written dissertation between the 4th and 6th years (approximately). Further, students in our program must complete 61 credit hours of course work, including research design and analysis courses, content courses in specific areas of psychology, teaching in psychology, and thesis and dissertation research (one additional supporting course such as biology, statistics, and sociology are also possible).

For a non-exhaustive list of graduate courses typically offered in our department, click here.

Graduate Handbooks

PhD Handbook (updated 2023)

Additional Helpful Links

FInancial Support for Psychology Grad Students

The Graduate School at MSU

Current Grad Student Directory

Graduate Program Alumni

Who to Contact?

If you have any questions specifically about our program, please contact our Graduate Coordinator:

Dr. Ian Handley

Phone: (406) 994-6508