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FAQ's about PSI

Psychology and Social Intervention

About the Program

What is NYU Steinhardt's doctoral program in Psychology and Social Intervention (PSI)?  

  • The program focuses on training students to understand, study, and change the various contexts and social systems in which individuals develop and spend time. Contexts could include families, peer groups, schools, neighborhoods, cultural groups, or public policies.
  • The program has a heavy emphasis on theory, research, and social action
  • The program also trains students in empirical methods for designing and assessing intervention/prevention and health promotion efforts. Thus, the program maintains a heavy focus on conducting research in applied settings for the purposes of understanding and changing them.
  • The intent of the program is to produce psychologists who can carry out socially relevant research aimed at understanding and solving social problems in natural settings.
  • Program faculty study a broad range of issues including early childhood programs, school transitions, ethnic-racial identity development, homelessness, HIV-AIDs, welfare and work policy, and the like. Students complete a rigorous core curriculum and are heavily engaged in research throughout the course of their training.

How does PSI compare to the other doctoral programs in Developmental Psychology and Counseling Psychology offered through the Department of Applied Psychology?

All doctoral programs share a focus on context and cultural as critical factors in human development and wellbeing. The PSI program focuses on understanding and intervening in contexts of human development, the Developmental program focuses on how child development is informed by culture and context and the Counseling program focuses on culturally-and contextually-informed approaches to mental health and wellness. All three doctoral programs are accredited by New York State, but the Counseling program is the only APA-accredited license-eligible program. Please see each program’s websites for more information about each one, and review the recent scholarship of faculty in each program for a better sense of the similarities and distinctions between the three areas of doctoral study.

What are similar programs there in the US?

There are a number of related programs in disciplines such as Ecological Psychology, Human Development, Community Psychology, and other disciplines

Examples include:

  • Community-Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
  • Community Psychology, Georgia State University
  • Community and Prevention Research, University of Illinois, Chicago Circle
  • Community Research and Action, Vanderbilt University 
  • Ecological Psychology, Michigan State University
  • Human Development and Social Policy, Northwestern University
  • Prevention Research Training Program, Arizona State University

How long does it take to complete the program?

Our program is designed so that students can complete core requirements within and the degree within a 5 year period.

Can I be a part-time student?

No. This program is designed for full-time study. We expect that all students will be engaged in full-time training and will be available to attend all of the required seminars and colloquia.

How many and which courses are required?

We have a structured curriculum which outlines a set of core courses and theory and methods related to our training goals as well as required departmental seminars and electives. See more information on degree requirements and a sample curriculum.

Is the program accredited?

This is a state-approved PhD program. The program is not accredited by the APA, which means that students are not eligible for professional licensure as practitioners.

How does mentorship in PSI work? Do I apply to work with a specific person?

Unlike many programs, PSI does not operate on a strict mentorship model. Rather than admitting students to work with a specific faculty member, we admit students who we feel are a good fit for the program as a whole. Admitted students then meet with each of our faculty members in early fall of their first year to learn about their current research projects and opportunities and a joint mentorship match decision is made based on input from both the new students and the faculty. In addition, we encourage students in their 3rd years and beyond to work with multiple faculty to gain exposure to different models, methods and training. You should still feel free to indicate in your personal statement the faculty member(s) that you anticipate your research and scholarship interests will align with.

Who are the faculty in the program? Where can I find information on each professor's specific research interests?

The research interests of the faculty members can be found in their faculty profiles

What is the typical funding package?

While subject to change, doctoral students admitted to PSI typically receive a fellowship that covers their matriculation fees, course fees, and health care fees, plus a stipend for four years of study. Students are not required to teach in exchange for this fellowship. Our program is designed to be completed in 5 years of study, but some students take more time to pursue additional opportunities in their scholarship. Students in their 5th year and beyond typically fund themselves through a combination of teaching activities, internal and external funding mechanisms, and paid hourly work on faculty’s externally-funded research. Admitted students will receive an offer letter laying out the specific details of their funding package upon admission. See more information about the funding program.

About the Application Process 

I don’t have a BA or MA degree in Psychology – can I still apply?

Yes. Although it is preferred that applicants have some background in psychology, we still consider and review applicants without formal training in psychology for admission to PSI. In this scenario, it is helpful when students include some information in their application (e.g. through the personal statement, or supplemental materials) about the extent of their prior experience with psychology, and explain their interest in pursuing a degree in psychology.

How many recommendations are allowed and who should they be from?

We ask for 3 letters of recommendation to support your application. These should come from people who are in a position to understand what doctoral study in psychology entails and can speak to the attributes that would make you a good candidate for doctoral study in PSIThe system will only allow a maximum of three letters of recommendation. Please do not contact us about sending more recommendations than the system allows or the program requires.

How can I provide more details to support my application?

Sometimes applicants need additional space to include other information or materials to support their application. For example, some applicants want to include a published article or other writing samples, others would like a space to provide additional information regarding their GPA or college experience, or their test-taking experiences. These can be included in the application in the section designated: Additional Upload