How to Apply

Ph.D. Admissions Requirements

Application Deadline is December 1st each year for the following fall only (no winter or spring admissions)

NOTE: WE are no longer accepting applications for Fall 2024. We do not have spring admissions. The application for Fall 2025 will open in September.


Note: We DO NOT offer a stand-alone Master's program or a Clinical/Counseling Psychology program. Applications are only accepted for the Ph.D., but it is possible to earn a Master's along the way.


Overview: New graduate students are admitted directly into faculty laboratories, so it is essential for prospective students to contact faculty directly about openings and research interests (see below for advice). After the December 1st deadline, applications are reviewed by individual faculty, who then nominate prospective students to the admissions committee for interviews, which occurs in January. The majority of students selected for interviews have at least some email contact with potential faculty mentors before applications are submitted.  

Application Process

  • December 1, 2023 Submit your Application for Admission!
  • December 5, 2023 All materials due (TOEFL/IELTS test scores, transcripts, recommendation letters)
  • January 8, 2024 Interview invitations will be emailed to interview candidates (interviews are required for admission)
  • February 2, 2024 In-person Interviews (international applicants may interview via Zoom)
  • February 29, 2024 Admissions offer letters sent via email
  • March 15, 2024 Final admissions decisions sent to unsuccessful applicants.
  • April 15, 2024 Decision deadline – let us know if you accept our offer of Admission!



The Psychology graduate office will be closed December 22, 2023 through January 2, 2024. During this time you may not be able to reach the Psychology Graduate Program or the Office of Graduate Studies for information regarding your application status. Please be patient, we will do our best to promptly respond to your inquiries once the office has reopened on January 3rd.

  • Application Requirements
  • The GRE is no longer required. Applicants with GSR scores will not be able to upload them.

    We do not have any course pre-requisites. An MA is not required for admission to the Ph.D. program. Students must have a bachelor’s degree before enrolling in the Ph.D. and the University requires a 3.0 GPA. In exceptional cases where the applicant has additional skills this requirement can be waived.

    International Students – May need to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam and request results to be sent to UC Davis. See below for information on whether you need to take one of these exams.

    Please see additional University application requirements here:

  • Area of Research and Preferred Faculty Mentor(s) 
  • The Psychology Ph.D. is a mentorship program, in which students perform research with a faculty mentor. You can list up to 6 faculty as possible mentors. It is beneficial for you to have email contact with one or more potential faculty mentors before the application deadline. This helps you to learn more about their research and gives them a more interactive way to get to know you. To see a list of our faculty, please click the "People" link on the top blue banner. To see our research areas and the corresponding faculty, please visit our Research Areas Pages. "Affiliated Faculty" are also members of the Psychology Graduate Program and can accept Psychology Ph.D. students as well.

    After you have identified faculty whose research closely matches your own interests, it’s a good idea to contact them by email to express your interest in joining the lab. A common approach is to write 1-2 paragraphs describing your research interests and why you think you would be a good fit to work with the faculty member. Including a resume or curriculum vitae is a great way to let faculty review your training and experience. See this webpage for tips on how to write a curriculum vitae. We suggest you begin this process in September or October.

  • Transcripts
  • We do not require official paper transcripts, however we will need to see unofficial transcripts from all academic institutions you have attended and listed on your application. You can upload the unofficial transcripts directly into your application. Please follow the instructions in the application or in the confirmation email that will be sent to you after you submit your application. More information can be found on the Office of Graduate Studies here.
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Three letters of recommendation are required. It’s best if you can request letters from people who know you well and can give specific examples of qualities that you have that make you a good candidate for our program. Your recommenders will be contacted directly by the University to upload their letters. Unfortunately, we do not currently support document agencies such as Interfolio. The recommender must upload the letter directly via the link provided to them.

    It is suggested that you contact recommenders at least one month in advance of the due date. At least one recommendation should be from someone with an academic title (professor, lecturer, research professional). Providing your letter writers with a copy of your CV and statement of purpose/personal history statement can make it easier for them to prepare your letters.

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Please highlight your academic preparation and motivation; interests, specializations, and career goals; and fit for pursuing graduate study at UC Davis. (Maximum 4000 characters - including spaces)

    preparation and motivation may include your academic and research experiences that prepare you for this graduate program (for example: coursework, employment, exhibitions, fieldwork, foreign language proficiency, independent study, internships, laboratory activities, presentations, publications, studio projects, teaching, and travel or study abroad) and motivation or passion for graduate study.
    interests, specializations, and career goals may include your research interests, disciplinary subfields, area/s of specialization, and professional objectives.
    fit may include how your preparation, experiences, and interests match the specific resources and characteristics of your graduate program at UC Davis. Please identify specific faculty within your desired graduate program with whom you would like to work and how their interests match your own.
  • Personal History and Diversity Statement
  • The purpose of this essay is to get know you as an individual and potential graduate student. Please describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual, or cultural diversity within a campus community and your chosen field; or how you might serve educationally underrepresented and underserved segments of society with your graduate education. This essay should complement but not duplicate the content in the Statement of Purpose.  (Maximum 4000 characters - including spaces)
  • Application Fee
  • $135 for U.S. applicants and $155 for international applicants. 

    UC Davis offers application fee waivers to applicants who have participated in specific graduate preparation programs (see Graduate Preparation Program Fee Waiver page for a list of qualifying programs). Applicants who are affiliated with these programs must indicate their participation AND must provide the name and contact information for their program coordinator in the relevant section of the online application system to receive a fee waiver.

  • International Applicants
  • English language testing is required, not just for international students, but for all applicants whose native language or primary language of instruction is not English.  UC Davis accepts both the TOEFL and IELTS examinations.  For more information about these tests, please go to the TOEFL/IELTS Requirement section.