Application for Graduate Admission to the Doctoral Program

USC Preview Days and Psychology Department Information Session
Spotlight: USC Graduate Preview Days are offered between September – December by the Office of USC Graduate Admissions.   Please see Fall 15 Preview dates and make a reservation at the following site:

The Psychology Department Doctoral Program will provide a one hour Information Session (scheduled at 12:15 pm following the Graduate Preview Day Spotlight programs) in September – November only. There will be no December Information Session. There will be a Clinical Science Information Session on one of the October or November Preview Days.  Interested parties are welcome to attend the Psychology Department Information Sessions in SGM 501 regardless of attending the Preview Day program.

Please email or call 213-740-2205 for details and a reservation for the Information Session (please specify if you are interested in Clinical or non-Clinical areas). Individual appointments may also be available for general admissions inquires.

Course Pre-requisites
Students are selected by each specialty area. In reviewing the course background, we prefer students who have developed an understanding of the basic process of research through coursework such as research methods and statistics classes. Other course work that enhances an application includes basic foundational academic work in major areas of psychology, including (alphabetically) biological, cognitive, developmental, personality, and social psychology. Different areas of our department emphasize different coursework, but we recommend that prospective students choosing classes include Introductory Psychology and coursework drawn from the following areas:

a. Elementary Statistics
b. Research Methods
c. Biological Foundations - including coursework such as Comparative Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Sensation and Perception, Learning and Memory, Cognitive Psychology, or Motivation and Emotion
d. Developmental, Social, and Personality Foundations - including coursework such as Developmental Psychology, Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Personality
e. Cognitive Foundations - including coursework such as Learning, Memory, and Intelligence

More advanced or specialized courses in psychology (e.g., Neuropsychology, Behavior Genetics, Advanced Statistics, Adolescence, Cognitive Development, Interpersonal Relations, Criminal Psychology, Psychology and Law, Organizational Psychology) are desirable, as are courses in the biological, physical, and social sciences and in mathematics. Students with outstanding records but with less background in psychology will also be considered.

Application Form and URL
Apply online to USC Office of Graduate Admissions

Application Process
The following items must be submitted online to the Office of Graduate Admissions (unless otherwise indicated) and should be received no later than December 1 to guarantee consideration:

  1. Graduate Admissions Application (to Psychology Doctoral Program) is available only between September 1 - December 1. The online application will close on December 1 at 9:00PM PST. We strongly encourage serious applicants to submit the online application by November 15 or soon after.
  2. Personal Statement Please upload your statement of purpose online. Your statement of purpose should discuss the following: 1) Ways in which your experiences and courses have influenced your intellectual development and interest in psychology. 2) Your present interests in psychology. 3) Any direct experience you have had with psychological work (research assistantships, volunteer work, etc.). 4) What you hope to be doing in the field of psychology ten years from now. 
  3. Supplemental Psychology application is available online at the Application site. In the supplemental form, you select a primary area of specialization, i.e., Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Clinical Science, Developmental Psychology, Quantitative Methods, or Social Psychology. If your interests span across these areas, please indicate this in your statement of purpose. The faculty you list as potential advisors may be from different areas of the department, but at least one of them should be in the area you select as your primary area. If you are applying to the Clinical Science program, you will also be asked to indicate whether you are interested in Clinical-Aging, Child and Family Clinical, or General Adult Clinical.
  4. Three Letters of Evaluation by professors or supervisors who are familiar with your potential for graduate training and professional contributions to psychology. Follow the online admissions instructions if professors will send electronic letters. If your professor intends to send a hard copy, please have it mailed to the Department of Psychology (see item # 11).
  5. Application fee (fee-related questions should be addressed to Graduate Admissions at
  6. a) Arrange to send one official transcript from each college attended to: Office of Admissions, GRADUATE, University of Southern California, 3601 South Flower Street, Room 112, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915. (See online application to access cover sheet). The cover sheet is not required but is recommended as an aid for Admissions to match your transcript with our application.). b) Also upload relevant transcripts (unofficial or online copies are acceptable for initial review) as supporting documents online.
  7. Arrange to have an official copy of your General GRE test scores sent by ETS. (ETS Institution code: 4852, Department Code: 2001 or 2016). The subject exam is not required. If your score was sent only to the Institution code but not to the department, please send a hard copy of your scores to the Department of Psychology (see item # 11).
  8. Please upload your CV/resume in the Employment Information Section.
  9. International students must submit a TOEFL or IELTS exam (Institution Code 4852).  Go to this website for details and exceptions:
  10. WARNING: Once you submit your online application, you can no longer upload items and most areas of the application will be unavailable for update. If you wish to submit additional supporting documents, please send those items to the Department of Psychology (item # 11) or contact Irene Takaragawa Graduate Advisor, at 213-740-2205 or  Please note that the Recommender section will always be available to add recommenders or resend the request for a letter of recommendation.
  11. Send all hard copy items to:

        Doctoral Application Division

        Department of Psychology/SGM 508

        University of Southern California;

        Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061.


Data for Clinical Science Psychology Applicants
GRE and GPA data for entering clinical science classes can be found at:/psyc/student-admissions-outcomes/, in compliance with APA Implementing Regulation C-20.

  • Department of Psychology
  • University of Southern California
  • SGM 501
  • 3620 South McClintock Ave.
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061
  • Phone: (213) 740 - 2203