Skip to main content

Search NYU Steinhardt

Male faculty member sitting

Doctor of Philosophy
Psychology and Social Intervention

The Psychology and Social Intervention (PSI) doctorate prepares action scientists for diverse roles in academia and social research. You will be prepared to understand, transform, and improve the contexts and systems in which humans develop across the lifespan.

Request Info

Degree Details

Official Degree Title

PhD in Psychology and Social Intervention

Students with a Master’s degree will take a minimum of 51 and a maximum of 66 credit hours, based on their primary mentor’s advice, while students with a Bachelor’s degree must complete a total of 66 credit hours.
Start Date
Application Deadline

Mission Statement

Our  mission is to train social scientists to (a) critically explore  the experiences of people in the contexts and systems in which they develop across the lifespan and (b) use knowledge to address  longstanding inequities in settings and systems. Our work is grounded in the belief that  empirically based knowledge about “persons in settings” is a key mechanism for achieving racial justice, social justice, and equity and for changing systems and settings as well as individuals. Training in PSI is actively interdisciplinary, drawing on theories and approaches from multiple  fields in  psychology (including developmental, community, political,  and social psychology) and other social and behavioral sciences. We conduct research and action in close partnership with key stakeholders while centering community voice and perspectives. Our training goals include fostering students’ abilities to:

(a) Conceptualize and measure (i) individual cognitive and psychosocial development and (ii)  the social settings, systems, and policies in which individuals are embedded;

(b) Understand the psychological impact of various forms of diversity, conflict, and structural inequity among individuals, groups, institutions, communities, and societies; and

(c) Design, improve, implement and evaluate prevention, intervention and policy strategies toward positive social change; and

(d) Utilize state-of-the art quantitative and qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to addressing individual and system-level phenomena.

PSI faculty and students study a wide range of contexts and systems (e.g., families, schools, neighborhoods, programs, juvenile justice systems,social movements,  intergroup contexts, policy contexts and macro-level economic and social structures) and interventions (e.g., psychological, social, educational and health programs and policies), locally, nationally and internationally. Our faculty also conduct research on how social psychological factors, cultural and racial identities, and marginalization influence and interact with people’s experiences of contexts, systems and interventions. New York University provides an ideal global network  for studying many kinds of communities in the US and other regions of the world, including Latin American countries, South Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

PSI faculty collaborate closely with one another, as well as with other social, behavioral, health and policy scientists at NYU and other universities, and with service, community and policy organizations. PSI faculty direct or co-direct a number of affiliated institutes and centers at NYU, including the Institute for Human Development and Social Change, Global TIES for Children, the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (METRO), and A Research Center for Interconnected Approachs for Suicide Prevention (Arcadia).

You should apply to PSI if you…

  • are committed to conducting applied research to promote justice and equity
  • want to develop conceptual and methodological skills to understand the interplay between people and settings/social systems

  • want to take an interdisciplinary approach to research

  • want to work in partnership with practitioners, policy makers, and community members

  • want to work in academia, industry, government, policy, program development and others!


  • Please note that the GRE test is optional.


Application Guidelines: 

  • Please visit the How to Apply page for more information on application requirements. 
  • Please review our FAQ page to find out more information about the PSI program and application process.


PSI is a research-intensive degree with a strong quantitative training component that places a strong emphasis on:

  • understanding and assessing social settings, systems, and policies;
  • creating/improving, implementing and evaluating prevention and intervention programs; and
  • understanding various forms of diversity and structural inequality among individuals, institutions, communities, and societies.

Students work collaboratively with faculty mentors on a range of activities, including study design, data collection and analysis, manuscript preparation, conference presentations, policy briefs, and evaluation activities.

Program faculty study a wide range of ecologies (e.g., families, schools, neighborhoods, policy contexts, programs) and preventive and policy interventions (e.g., psychological, social, educational and health programs) locally, nationally and internationally. Our faculty also conduct research on how cultural factors and identities influence and interact with experiences of these ecologies and interventions. Our New York City location provides an ideal urban setting for studying many kinds of communities, combined with gateways to the world at large.


In the PSI program, we focus on providing the framework to help you:

  • develop methodological skills that enable analysis of change over time and within and across levels of human ecology

  • acquire abilities to apply psychological and social science principles to the understanding of social settings, social/cultural contexts, and social and policy interventions

  • develop abilities to conceptualize, interpret, evaluate and disseminate evidence-based social and policy interventions; and develop the ethical, interpersonal, organizational, and technical capacities to undertake high-quality professional work in psychology and social intervention

The PSI doctorate trains social scientists to work in a variety of settings so they understand the experiences of people in the contexts and systems in which they develop across the lifespan, and can transform and improve these contexts and systems. 

Our degree prepares students for diverse roles in academia and applied research. In the academic arena, our students are well positioned for jobs in psychology, human development, education, public health, and public policy. In the area of applied research, you will be prepared to obtain positions in research organizations, policy institutes, social service agencies, community-based organizations, and advocacy. 

Our rigorous theoretical and empirical training will position you extremely well to respond to the ever-increasing demand for evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies in health, education, and social services.

See what our Alumni are up to now!

If you’re an international student, you may be able to work in the United States after graduation for an extended period of time. Most students studying on F-1 visas will be eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) off-campus work authorization. F-1 students in our program may also be eligible for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) OPT extension, allowing you to extend your time in the United States to pursue degree-related work experience for a total of 36 months or 3 years. For more information on who can apply for this extension visit NYU’s Office of Global Services: STEM OPT.