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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology

Applying – Experimental Psychology

GRE Scores are not required for Fall 2025 admission to the Experimental Psychology program.

Degree Offered

The Experimental Psychology program leads to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree. Students in our program are required to complete a Master’s thesis and earn a Master’s degree; however, this degree is part of the overall doctoral training program, and has very different requirements than would be found in a terminal Master’s degree program. As such, our Master’s degree cannot function as a terminal degree. The program typically takes 5 years to complete. For students with previous graduate experience, the length of academic courses/training may be less.

Mentoring Model

The program employs a mentoring model under which the student works closely with a faculty member. While it is expected that one faculty member will assume responsibility for guiding the student to degree completion, under some circumstances, the student may study with multiple faculty. Some of our career-track faculty also serve as members on an experimental student’s masters, preliminary exam, and dissertation committees.

Students matriculate at the WSU campus at which their primary research mentor is located (Pullman, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, or Spokane).  Please note the location of potential mentors before applying to work with them. We encourage applicants to contact the faculty member(s) you wish to work with to ensure that they are recruiting students next fall semester.

Teaching Opportunities and Training

The program offers many opportunities for teaching both lower- and upper-division undergraduate psychology courses. We offer instructor training and supervision for both “live” and “online” courses. Students receive “best practice” training on a diverse range of pedagogical topics including course design, lecture construction and style, utilization of teaching technology, instructor-student interaction, facilitation of “live” and “online” discussion, syllabus and assignment construction, and the assessment of learning. Particular emphasis is given to lecture preparation and delivery as well as the creation and management of teaching environments capable of supporting a variety of learning styles. Students receive personalized feedback on both practice and “real” lectures as well as on syllabus and assignment construction. Training and supervision also includes discussion of ethical issues involving privacy, plagiarism, cheating, diversity, equity, and the protection of individual rights.

Number of Students Admitted

The Experimental Psychology Graduate Program typically admits 6-8 new students annually and has approximately 30 doctoral students enrolled at any one time. The psychology graduate programs (experimental and clinical psychology combined) consists of approximately 60 students.

Admission Consideration

Before applying, please note that students are typically fulltime, and matriculate at the WSU campus at which their primary research mentor is located (Pullman, Vancouver, or Spokane).

To be considered for the Experimental Program, applicants must have:

  • Completed at least 18 credits in Psychology or in area of study related to Psychology research specialty.
  • Earned at least a 3.00 cumulative undergraduate GPA.
  • A minimum of 3 letters of recommendation (at least 2 of which must come from a faculty member in a university or medical setting).

For those who meet the above qualifications, evaluation of the application is based on:

Very Important

  • Undergraduate GPA (3.0 minimum; average of admitted students is approximately 3.5)
  • Graduate GPA, if any
  • Research experience and productivity (e.g., co- or first author on conference presentation, peer-reviewed publication, grants, etc.)
  • Strength of personal statement
  • Goodness of fit in terms of research interests with one or more WSU Experimental Psychology faculty **


  • Strength of letters of recommendation
  • Background in statistics and experimental methods


  • GRE scores and percentiles (Quantitative, Verbal, Analytical)
    • Psychology Subject test scores are not reviewed
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • The variety and difficulty of coursework completed, with the expectation that the student has completed a large number of upper-division courses both within and outside of the major
  • Teaching experience, if any
  • Demonstrated ability to function independently and responsibly
  • Extracurricular activities and jobs related to Psychology

** The extent to which the applicant’s interests match those of the faculty is very important. In their personal statements, applicants should state with whom they would like to study and why. Note the location of potential mentors on the Psychology Department webpage. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to contact prospective mentor(s) to discuss shared interests and determine whether the prospective mentor intends to recruit a new student for the following year. Every effort is made to evaluate each applicant individually; students who have special skills or qualifications that they feel strengthen their application are encouraged to state them.

Faculty are selective in the admissions process because they expect that all students admitted to the program will complete the Ph.D., rather than admitting a large entering class with the intent to winnow the class at the end of the first or second year. Our goal is to provide the research mentorship, instruction, and financial support needed for every student to become a skilled experimental psychologist and to earn the Ph.D. in a timely manner.

To be considered for admission to the Experimental Psychology Graduate Program, all application materials must be received by December 1st.

Interview, Admissions, Acceptance Timeline

Invitations to interview are usually made by mid-January; offers of admission are usually made by the end of February. Upon selection for admission to the program, a member of our faculty will contact you to make an offer. The faculty member will provide details about the program, indicate whether the offer comes with financial support (usually in the form of an assistantship ) or without support, and answer any questions you may have. A letter will be sent to confirm the details of the offer and you will have until April 15 to accept or decline in writing and via myWSU.

Application Instructions

Applications are accepted September 1 – December 1 for fall admission the following year. To be considered for admission to the Department of Psychology’s Graduate Programs, all of your completed application materials must be received by our December 1st deadline.

To apply to the Washington State University Department of Psychology, Experimental Graduate Program you must complete the Washington State University Graduate School Application Process

*Please note that your references are required to submit letters of recommendation by the December 1 deadline, so please email the link to your letter writers so they can meet the application deadline.

Also, please contact the faculty member(s) you wish to work with to ensure that they are recruiting students next fall semester.

If you have questions concerning this process, please contact Stacy Gessler, Program Coordinator, Psychology Department at

Application Tips

To make your application more competitive, your personal statement should be single spaced, no longer than 2 pages, and include the following:

  1. your previous research and/or clinical experiences
  2. your future career goals
  3. your reasons for wanting to attend the WSU graduate program in Psychology
  4. the faculty member(s) you are interested in working with and why