PhD Psychology

Learn from the best

PhD students in Psychology at Dalhousie form strong learning and working relationships with thesis supervisors. This apprenticeship model allows students to build the skills, habits and critical thinking required for success as a research scientist in the field.

Our thesis supervisors represent a faculty that is responsible for some of the most exciting and diverse psychology research currently taking place. Guidance from these experienced mentors, along with an emphasis on research and scholarship, prepare our PhD students for a career in generating new knowledge.

Program details

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Choose a research supervisor

Before you begin your studies at Dalhousie, we encourage you to visit our department or correspond by email with faculty members whose research interests you. The best way to find a research supervisor whose interests match yours is to:

  • Discuss ideas and projects with prospective supervisors
  • Ask faculty for descriptions of possible research projects
  • Write to the Graduate Secretary for general information

Program structure

Students entering with a Psychology master's degree are admitted into a PhD program with a two-year residency requirement, while those entering without a Psychology master's degree have a three-year residency requirement. In addition to the dissertation, which is the major requirement of this program, students in the PhD program must complete the following classes if not completed as part of the master’s degree:

  • Psychology 6001A Fundamentals of Statistics and Experimental Design
  • At least one other 1/2-credit class in the quantitative/analytic area
  • Psychology 7100A Seminar in Teaching Effectiveness
  • Psychology 7501.03: Proseminar in Methods of Psychological Inquiry I
  • 7502.03: Proseminar in Methods of Psychological Inquiry II

(Must be completed in the same year as 7501.03).


  • 1 full credit of elective (with approval, this may be taken outside the department)

The Graduate Program Coordinator, in collaboration with the student and supervisor, will assess the needs of the student and determine any other requirements beyond the minimum outlined above. Advanced standing for some work completed during the master’s program may be granted.

The major, non-dissertation, component of the PhD program are the comprehensive projects. PhD students must complete three comprehensive 'examination' projects that are not directly related to their dissertation research. These may be actual examinations, review papers, empirical research, grant proposals, etc.  

During each year in the PhD program, students are required to register for thesis (Psychology 9530), and during residency years students must register for and attend both semesters of the colloquium series (Psychology 8001.03 and 8002.03).

During each residency year, students are required to serve as a teaching assistant in our undergraduate program. This consists of working as a laboratory instructor, seminar leader, or teaching assistant.

Application Deadlines

Applications must be received by December 1.

PhD defence

A PhD defence is open to the public. The Faculty of Graduate Studies arranges and publicizes the PhD defence in consultation with the supervisor and the student.

The PhD candidate makes a 20-minute oral presentation of the work. Members of the Examination Committee then question the candidate. The external examiner, the members of the examining committee and the supervisor vote on the outcome of the thesis defence.