Application for Graduate Admission to the Doctoral Program

USC Preview Days and Psychology Department Information Sessions
Spotlight: USC Graduate Preview Days are offered between September – December by the Office of USC Graduate Admissions.   Please see Fall 16 Preview dates (once dates become available and make Spotlight Graduate Preview Day reservations) at the following site:

In conjunction with Preview Days, the Psychology Department Doctoral Program will provide a one to one-and-a-half hour General Information Session (scheduled starting at about 12:00 pm following the Graduate Preview Day Spotlight program) in the SGM 501 suite.

The Associate Director of Clinical Science will present one information session specifically about our Clinical Science Program in October or November.  Continue checking this site in October for exact date.

Interested parties are welcome to attend the Psychology Department Information Sessions regardless of participation in the Preview Day program.

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

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 (This process may change for the next processing)
The following items must be submitted online to the Office of Graduate Admissions (unless otherwise indicated) and must be received no later than December 1 (at 9:00pm PST) to guarantee consideration:

  1. Graduate Admissions Application (to Psychology Doctoral Program) is available September 1 - December 1 only. 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. Supplemental Psychology application is online as a section of the main 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. We strongly recommend that select from core faculty within our selected area of specialization.  The Clinical Science program requires selecting a sub-specialization: Clinical-Aging, Child and Family Clinical, or General Adult Clinical.  Similarly, the Brain and Cognitive Science area also requires sub-specializations.
  3. 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. 
  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. (Look online for transcript cover sheet). The cover sheet is not required but is recommended as an aid for our Office of Graduate 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 copy of your report form to the Department of Psychology for review purposes (see item # 11).
  8. Please upload a copy of your CV (academic resume).
  9. International students must submit a TOEFL or IELTS exam (Institution Code 4852).  Go to this website for details and exceptions:
  10. If you need assistance, 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 email link for a letter of recommendation.
  11. Hard copies are not required.  Occasionally, an upload problem or the preference by a recommender to send a hard copy letter may occur.  If so, hard copy materials may be sent to this address. Please include your name and area of specialization to aid in processing:

Doctoral Application Division

Department of Psychology/SGM 508

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061

Please do not email pdfs of documents unless we specifically request it. 

Official transcripts and official GRE scores should be sent to the Psychology Dept if the item is meant for department review only.  See #6 and #7 for instructions on where to send official documents to the Office of Graduate Admission. 


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