The curriculum in the Personality & Social Contexts Area is designed to provide students with a broad background of psychological knowledge, while at the same time allowing early concentration in a specialized area of interest.
Generally, students complete their course requirements during their first two years in the program. Above and beyond departmental-wide requirements, area students are required to take the following: (1) a one semester orientation course as an introduction to the faculty members and research opportunities in the area and the department, (2) a one semester course on classic and modern theories in personality and social contexts, and (3) a two semester course on research methods in personality and social contexts. In addition to these four courses, students are also required to take two additional one semester graduate seminars on topics of their choice taught by faculty in the Personality and Social Contexts area. (Students in a joint degree program are required to complete only one additional graduate seminar and only one semester of the methods course.)
Throughout their graduate education, students are expected to attend a weekly Brown Bag series of seminars, which feature faculty and student research presentations. All P&SC students are expected to make at least two Brown Bag presentations during their graduate program. One should be based on their "619" research, and one should be based on their dissertation research. Beyond that, students are strongly encouraged to make additional Brown Bag presentations, to gain more experience with academic research presentations.
In addition to course work, each student completes a required "first year" research project (due by the end of their second year) known as the "619" because students typically work on their project under the Psychology 619 course number. Following completion of course work and the "619", students take "prelims"; for this, they write papers on theories, methods, and teaching in personality and social contexts. On completion of "prelims", the student is admitted to candidacy. In the normal course, this happens just before the beginning of the third year.
After candidacy, students generally devote most of their time to doctoral research and preparation of the doctoral dissertation, often preparing a preliminary paper on some aspect of personality and social contexts that may be studied more intensively in their dissertation.