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PhD, Psychology and Social Intervention

Overarching Goals

The overarching goals of training in the PSI program are to promote students’ capacity to: 

1)   Build content knowledge base to understand and improve human development in social context.

2)   Develop methodological skills that enable the effective assessment of and analysis of change over time and within and across levels of human ecology.

3)   Acquire abilities to apply psychological and social science principles to the understanding of social settings, social/cultural/economic contexts, and psychological, social and policy interventions.

4)   Attain abilities to conceptualize, interpret, evaluate and disseminate evidence-based psychological, social and policy interventions; and

5)   Develop the ethical, interpersonal, organizational and technical capacities to undertake high-quality professional work in psychology and social intervention.

Curricular Training Objectives

  • Knowledge of core theories of change

  • Knowledge of development and prevention sciences

  • Knowledge of psychometrics and ecometrics (measurement at extra-individual levels of analysis)

  • Knowledge of theory of behavior in settings

  • Knowledge of policy approaches

  • Knowledge of interdisciplinary theory and research perspectives

  • Knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methods and analyses (i.e., causal inference, missing data, growth curve modeling, HLM, qualitative and mixed methods)

  • Knowledge of how to link research questions to appropriate methods (design and analysis)

  • Knowledge of ethical standards in research and intervention

  • Identification and development of expertise in chosen area of specialization


Foundations (3 courses; 9 credits)

A series of three courses that cover the principles of understanding human development and social change, psychological and social intervention strategies and tactics, and the understanding and measurement of social contexts, each core to the Psychology and Social Intervention Program.

  • APSY-GE 3009 Theories of Change in Applied Psychology
  • APSY-GE 2094 Development and Prevention Science
  • APSY-GE 2825 Understanding and Measuring Social Contexts of Development

Methodology Requirement (3-6 courses; 9-18 credits)

A required sequence of at least three courses worth 9-18 credits that provides comprehensive training in quantitative and qualitative methods required to conduct high-quality research in psychology and social intervention. All Students must complete:

  • Research Design and Methodology in the Behavioral Sciences I (APSY-GE.2073) -Students should enroll in this course in their first year in the program.   

Students select an additional 6-15 credits in consultation with their faculty advisor. Possible courses include: 

  • APSTA-GE 2003 Intermediate Quantitative Methods: The General Linear Model
  • APSTA-GE 2004 Advanced Quantitative Methods: Survey of Multivariate Analysis
  • APSTA-GE 2012 Causal Inference
  • APSTA-GE 2013 Missing Data
  • APSTA-GE 2040 Multilevel Modeling: Growth Curves
  • APSY-GE 2524 Psychological Testing
  • APSY-GE 2604 Running Field Experiments
  • APSY-GE 2835 Research Using Mixed Methods
  • INTE-GE 2007 Qualitative Methods in International Education
  • INTE-GE 2008 Quantitative Methods in International Education
  • PSYCH-GA 2229 Regression
  • PSYCH-GA 2247 Advanced Seminar: Structural Equations
  • PSYCH-GA 2248 Advanced Seminar: Analysis of Change

PSI Core electives (2 courses; 6 credits)

We require that students enroll in 2 additional courses worth six credits that are of interest and relevance to their training goals. Some possibilities are presented below. 

  • Child Development and Social Policy in a Global Society 
  • Women and Mental Health 
  • Development of Immigrant Origin Youth 
  • Intervention and Social Change 
  • Risk and Resilience 
  • Culture, Context, and Psychology 
  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution
  • Social Psychology, Intervention, & Social Change 

Specialty Area (3 courses; 9 credits)

Students will declare a substantive area of specialization during their course of study (e.g., feminist studies, school-based/educational issues, women’s health, and criminal justice). The area is based on student interest, is flexible, but the course must create a coherent area of specialization and must be approved by the advisor. Students must complete three doctoral-level courses worth nine credits total that enhance their expertise in their chosen area of specialization. These courses may be taken in any program/school at NYU or via the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.

Practica (2-course sequence; 6 credits)

Practicum in Intervention or Policy Research I & II (APSY-GE.2827 & APSY-GE.2828). Students enroll for six credits in a year-long sequence during their third or fourth year and gain experience with action-oriented approaches to research.

Research Seminar (2 courses; 6 credits)

Second Year Project Research Seminar (APSY-GE.2839). Students should enroll in for three credits one semester per year for each of their first and second years, in preparation for their 2nd-year paper.

All students in the program are required to complete an empirical paper (2nd-year paper) as their first milestone in the program. Your primary research mentor supports students in this process by working closely with them on formulating and implementing the research project. Students are also required to present initial ideas and progress on the paper at least once per year during the PSI colloquium, beginning in year 1.  

Goals of 2nd-year Paper: 

To provide an initial individual experience in the research process in which the student learns to:

  • Develop an idea in the context of extant theory and research;

  • Design a study and employ the appropriate analytic techniques to test the hypotheses/questions of interest; and

  • Write the study in the format and quality of a publishable journal article.

PSI Program Seminar (1-4 courses; 3-12 credits)

Advanced Seminar in Psychology and Social Intervention (APSY-GE.2830) – All students are required to attend the advanced seminar and present their own work annually.

Research Experience

Students are required to participate on the research team of a PSI faculty member (or another Applied Psychology faculty, by program approval), beginning the first semester of their first year. Students are expected to allocate at least half of their time (20 hours per week) to this activity. By year 3, in line with our training expectations to be exposed to more than one project, students should spend a minimum of 5 hours (of the 20 hours per week) working with another research mentor (within or outside of the program by approval of primary research mentor). Students are free to transition onto new research teams throughout their doctoral training. 


Students entering the program with prior graduate education, or other relevant experience, may appeal to the faculty to opt-out of selected courses or requirements if they have previously had the equivalent experience. The appeal needs to be in writing and should include a rationale, evidence of comparability to current program requirements (e.g., a course syllabus; a workshop curriculum), and confirmation of support from the students’ advisor. Faculty make these decisions on a case-by-case basis in conjunction with the student's academic advisor, appropriate NYU course instructor(s), and the psychology and social intervention program faculty. Students with a masters degree judged by the PSI Faculty to be equivalent to our own can be considered on a case-by-case basis to successfully complete as few as 51 credits to meet the requirements for the PhD.