Department of Psychology

Program Overview

UHall in Fall The experimental program emphasizes research excellence, competence in mentoring/ teaching, and intra- and interpersonal growth and maturity. A combination of required and elective academic, research, and teaching/mentoring experiences provides a balance between breadth and depth of knowledge and training. Students have the opportunity to acquire general knowledge in core areas of psychology (e.g., social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and psychobiology and learning), as well as more specialized knowledge and skills in areas including research design and data analysis, health psychology, and applied experimental psychology.

In order to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree, students in the experimental program should expect to spend four or five years at the University of Toledo. Approval of transfer credit for previous graduate work is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and may shorten the time needed to complete the degree. The median number of years to complete the doctoral program in experimental psychology is 5 years. Throughout the program, students are expected to conduct themselves in an ethically responsible manner in their academic, research, and teaching/mentoring activities.

The University of Toledo's PhD program in experimental psychology promotes excellence in three broad ways:

I. Interdisciplinary Focus

As the field of psychology matures, the boundaries blur between its various subdisciplines — clinical, cognitive, developmental, neuroscience, social, and more. UT's psychology doctoral program curriculum is designed with a strong interdisciplinary focus that covers all these areas.

Our experimental PhD students also select an emphasis area of psychology. They are paired with a faculty mentor in their focus area and begin research in the faculty member's lab. Focus areas in the experimental psychology program include:

Additionally, to enhance the flexibility and breadth of their training, students can optionally minor in a sub-discipline of their choice. We offer the following minor specialization areas, designed to match faculty expertise and student interests:

    • Quantitative Psychology
    • Health Psychology
    • Experimental Psychopathology

Finally, to further solidify the interdisciplinary nature of the program, students have the opportunity to enter into a joint mentorship arrangement with a secondary mentor from the clinical area. This approach allows students to receive training and knowledge in distinct but over-lapping research areas, as well as more applied training in experimental psychology.


Training in teaching and mentorship is an integral part of the program. Post-graduation, most of our experimental psychology students work in faculty and research positions within university and college settings. Thus, our emphasis on teaching and mentoring is a strength of the program.

First, in terms of mentorship, students help to supervise undergraduate research assistants in their research labs. Students assist with oversight of lab operations and facilitate engagement of one-on-one training. Additionally, students have opportunities to assist their faculty mentors with the supervision of honors research or other undergraduate research projects. These opportunities closely mimic the types of professional relationships that faculty members have with both undergraduate and graduate students and, thus, helps students craft and apply their own mentorship style as they prepare for a career in academia.

Second, students receive extensive experience serving as teaching assistants for multiple courses. This allows students to learn how faculty structure their courses, and provides hands-on training in how to manage students, develop course materials, and evaluate assignments and exams.

Third, students take a teaching practicum course with other students who are just beginning or planning their own courses. In this course, students learn how to manage students in the classroom, develop materials, and construct their teaching philosophy.

Fourth, post-Master’s students can serve as instructor of record for their own courses (under the supervision of a faculty mentor). This typically occurs following multiple semesters as a teaching assistant and often co-occurs with enrollment in the teaching practicum course (described above).

Fifth, students have access to many other teaching and mentoring resources and opportunities through the university and wider Toledo community, such as workshops run by our department and the Graduate Student Association or teaching opportunities at local community colleges and high schools.


One of the most marketable and practical aspects of our training involves our strong emphasis on methodological and statistical skills in research. This aspect of our training starts at the very beginning of graduate school, when students take research methods and statistical courses in the first semester. Such training is further honed as students begin their research-focused courses (e.g., Research Practicum), conduct milestone projects (e.g., Master’s Thesis), and learn more about research methodology from advanced content courses (e.g., Seminar in Cognitive Psychology, Science of Emotion). Finally, as noted above, students can elect to pursue a minor specialization in quantitative psychology, which further enhances students’ statistical knowledge base.

Methodological and Statistical Resources 

We have numerous resources that help to facilitate student learning and research productivity.

  • Two large computer labs with more than 50 state-of-the-art computers, in addition to individual faculty labs equipped with computers and other equipment
  • Licenses for a variety of data collection software (e.g., Medialab, DirectRT, PsychData, Qualtrics)
  • Access to statistical analysis software (e.g., SPSP, MPlus) and workshops
  • Shared departmental psychophysiological research lab, featuring advanced equipment for monitoring physiological responses in and outside of the laboratory, including a stationary Biopac MP36R unit, a wireless BioNomadix MP150 unit, a wearable BioRadio unit for the ambulatory assessment of physiological responses in daily life, and multiple ambulatory heart-rate sensors and fitness trackers
  • A large psychobiology, comparative psychology complex and computer-controlled animal learning labs
  • Shared virtual reality hardware and software
  • Video- and computer-monitored labs for use with infants and young children
  • Research units that include computer systems, unobtrusive video cameras, and one-way mirrors

Specific Faculty Research Interests

  • Beliefs and health treatment outcomes
  • Optimism and future directed thought
  • Judgment and decision-making
  • Evolution of hearing and comparative study of hearing
  • Social comparison and comparative judgment processes
  • Interhemispheric interaction and cognition
  • The accuracy of children's courtroom testimony
  • Memory processes in children and adults
  • The effects of effort and secondary reinforcement on learning in single-cell organisms


Our emphases on 1) interdisciplinary focus, 2) teaching and mentoring, and 3) methodological and statistical skills give graduate students several specific advantages in the job market:

  1. High Research Productivity. PhD students have ready opportunities to collaborate with multiple faculty on research projects, which can result in numerous publications and presentations
  2. Breadth and Depth of Knowledge. Our students receive in-depth knowledge in their own area through coursework, research mentorship, and completion of milestone projects. Additionally, students receive knowledge breadth through core courses, teaching assistant and instructor assignments, and optional joint mentorship arrangements.
  3. Marketable Research Skills. Through coursework and research, students develop highly marketable statistical and methodological training that makes them attractive applicants in both academic and non-academic positions.
  4. Teaching Readiness. Our students are well-prepared to teach courses in multiple topic areas in psychology and to mentor student research projects

UT's experimental psychology PhD program has had success in placing students into both academic and non-academic settings. In tracking approximately 50 experimental graduate students over the past several years, approximately 75% are working in universities and colleges throughout the U.S. The remaining 25% are working in industrial, governmental, or medical institutions such as the National Cancer Institute, the Department for Defense Analysis, Busch Gardens, Magnify Analytics, and the U.S. Army Public Health Command.


Typically, 3-5 students are accepted into the program each year from an applicant pool of approximately 30-50 students. Accepted students possess a bachelor's degree or master's degree, and come from all regions of the country. Students accepted over the last five years (2016-2021) had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.74.

Last Updated: 6/27/22