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.

Also see Ph.D. Course Requirements.

This program requires the below.

Note: Coursework taken in the M.A. program can count toward the Ph.D. program. Students who received their M.A. outside this department should contact their advisors and the department head to determine which courses count for which categores.


1. Complete the Qualifying Examination (must be completed in the first semester)

For students who have obtained their M.A. degree in Psychology at NMSU:

The Master's Oral Examination can serve as the Qualifying Examination for admission to the Ph.D. program. To be considered for admission into the Ph.D. program, the student must submit to the chair of the graduate committee within four weeks of passing the Master’s Oral Examination: a CV, an unofficial transcript, and a one page description of the student’s plans/goals for Ph.D. program, including a brief description of the student’s research program(s).

For students who have obtained their M.A. degree at another university or in another discipline:

The Psychology Department Graduate Committee and the student’s own doctoral committee, shall decide upon the nature of the Qualifying Examination. A student who has not completed a masters thesis that is considered adequate (e.g., a non-empirical thesis) may be required to do a master’s thesis at NMSU. 

In the case of students whose master’s theses are considered inadequate, the department recommends that the form of the qualifying exam be the first year project required of all new incoming graduate students. However, in some circumstances, the student’s committee, with the approval of the graduate committee and the department head, may use a different method of exam. Also, the qualifying exam may include additional coursework at New Mexico State University.


2. Fulfil the credit number requirement
  1. Take a minimum of 40-70 credit hours total (determined by committee)


3. Complete core course based on area of study 
Take one of these three 3 credits
PSYC 524 Cognitive Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 527 Social Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 547 Engineering Psychology 3 credits


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).


4. Complete additional content courses
Take three of these 9 credits
PSYC 501 Psycholinguistics 3 credits
PSYC 520 Learning Theory & Methodology 3 credits
PSYC 522 Sensation & Perception Theory & Methodology 3 credits
PSYC 525 Behavioral Neuroscience 3 credits
PSYC 530 Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) 3 credits
PSYC 531 Human Memory 3 credits
PSYC 540 History & Systems of Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 543 Cognitive Neuroscience 3 credits


5. Complete the quantitative methods courses
Take all three 9 credits
PSYC 507 Quantitative Methods in Psychology I 3 credits
PSYC 508 (prereq: 507) Quantitative Methods in Psychology II 3 credits
PSYC 510 Computer Methodology 3 credits

Note: For both the M.A. and the Ph.D. programs, the required quantitative 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 correspond to PSYC 507, PSYC 508, and PSYC 510.


6. Complete additional statistics/methods courses
Take two of these  6 credits
PSYC 523 Methods in Cognitive Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 529 Methods in Social Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 548 Methods in Engineering Psychology 3 credits
PSYC 550 Teaching of Psychology 3 credits

Note: The additional required statistics/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.


7. Written and oral comprehensive exams

Students must complete their comprehensive exams based on the information here: Comprehensive Exam Information


8. Work-related training requirement:  

Complete one of these:

  • An approved internship of at least 10 weeks duration
    • Teach at least one 3-credit undergraduate course independently.
      • 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 Academic Technology '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 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.

9. Doctoral Dissertation (Coursework, Proposal, and Defense)
Take this twice 18 credits
PSYC 700 Doctoral Dissertation up to 3 credits/semester

Students must also propos a thesis, conduct it, and defend it. Also see Student Resources for required forms.


More information is available in the NMSU Graduate Catalog.

Completion time: three to four years after the Master's Degree. Also see the Timeline for Degree Completion

*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 (Research Seminar in Psychology, aka Colloquium) will be offered for one credit per semester, but students are not required to enroll (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.