Ph.D. Degree Requirements

At the Ph.D. level, students can select one of three emphases: engineering psychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. These programs are three areas of possible emphasis rather than as three independent tracks as each program contributes to the strength of the others.

This program requires:

  • 40-70 credit hours (determined by committee)
  • The core course corresponding to the student’s area of study (see below for eligible courses)
  • Three additional content courses (see below for eligible courses)
  • Required quantitative methods sequence: PSYC 507, PSYC 508, and PSYC 510
  • Six additional credits in statistics/methods (see list of eligible psychology courses below)
    • Note: The additional required quantitative methods/methods courses may be fulfilled by coursework in psychology or in another qualifying department (e.g., Applied Statistics). A ST505, A ST506, and A ST507 courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement because they correspond to PSYC 507, PSYC 508, and PSYC 510.
  • Written and oral comprehensive exams
  • Work-related training requirement:  Students in the Ph.D. program must either complete an approved internship of at least 10 weeks duration OR teach at least one 3-credit undergraduate course independently. At least one month prior to the first class meeting, student instructors must submit their course syllabus and required textbook(s) to be approved by the Graduate Committee. Student instructors who do not obtain this approval may not be allowed to teach the course. After approximately six weeks of instruction, a faculty member will conduct a midterm course evaluation using the NMSU Teaching Council’s recommendations (available at Results of the midterm evaluation will be shared with the instructor, the Graduate Committee, the student’s advisor, and the Department Head.
  • Students must complete one of the following training programs prior to teaching face-to-face:
    • PSYC 550 (Teaching of Psychology)
    • Thirty-six hours of teaching-related training at the NMSU Teaching Academy including at least one multi-week short course (e.g., the Starting Strong: A Short Course for Graduate Assistants Who Teach a Class or Lab) and the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric workshop. These hours must be completed during the twelve months prior to teaching. A maximum of five hours of Canvas workshops can be applied to the 36 required hours.
    • The Preparing Future Faculty program
    • Co-teach a course with a faculty member (i.e., cooperatively design the course, facilitate roughly half of the course meetings, grade roughly half of the assignments).
    • Prior to teaching an online course for NMSU, students must also complete the Online Course Improvement Program's Intro to Canvas workshop, the other nine workshops on each Canvas tool (i.e. home pages, assignments/rubrics, modules, quiz tool, etc.), and the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric workshop.
  • At least 18 credits of PSYC 700 (Doctoral Dissertation)
  • Dissertation and defense

More information is available in the NMSU Graduate Catalog.

Completion time: two to three years after the Master's

Core, Content and Methods Courses:

The following three courses fulfill the core course requirement for both the M.A. and the Ph.D. program

  • Cognitive Psychology (PSYC 524)
  • Social Psychology (PSYC 527)
  • Engineering Psychology (PSYC 547)

Note: For both the M.A. and the Ph.D. programs, once a student fulfills the core requirement, the remaining two core courses can be can be considered content courses (i.e., students can enroll in either or both of them to fulfill the content course requirement).

All other courses are in one of the following three categories:

Content Quantitative Methods
Psycholinguistics (PSYC 501) PSYC 507 Computer Methodology (PSYC 510)
Learning Theory & Methodology (PSYC 520) PSYC 508 Methods in Cognitive Psychology (PSYC 523)
Sensation & Perception Theory & Methodology (PSYC 522) PSYC 510 Methods in Social Psychology (PSYC 529)
Behavioral Neuroscience (PSYC 525) Methods in Engineering Psychology (PSYC 548)
HCI (PSYC 530) Teaching of Psych (PSYC 550)
Human Memory (PSYC 531)
History & Systems of Psychology (PSYC 540)
Cognitive Neuroscience (PSYC 543)


 *Grandfather clause: Students enrolled in the M.A. or Ph.D. program prior to Fall 2017 can choose either the previous requirements or these requirements. However, either set of requirements must be chosen as a whole; specific elements of the two sets of requirements may not be mixed.

**PSYC 570, Special Topics may be considered content, quantitative methods, or methods depending on the specific content of the course.

PSYC 590 will be offered for credit but students are not required to enroll in it each semester (i.e., students can enroll if they want/need to). However, all students should attend and actively participate in PSYC 590 regardless of whether they enroll in the course.