Course Offerings

Requirements for the Ph.D. set by the Graduate School at Northwestern include two consecutive years of full-time coursework. Three courses per quarter constitute a full-time load. Therefore, students normally take two to three courses per quarter during their first two years of graduate work and receive some course credit for supervised research. Students in the Social Area are required to take a set of core social psychology and statistics/methodology courses, but there is considerable flexibility in tailoring the rest of the required course work around each student's particular areas of interest.

At Northwestern, graduate courses are "400-level" courses (levels 100 through 300 are undergraduate courses). Social Area students must complete at least six graduate courses in social psychology. Two of these are mandatory: Psychology 481 (Theories in Social Psychology) and Psychology 482 (Research Methods in Social Psychology). The remaining four may be chosen from among the many options regularly offered. In addition to these six social courses, students must also complete another three courses. At least two of these must be content courses outside of the social area – that is, courses offered by other areas of the Psychology Department or by other departments at Northwestern.

The following graduate social psychology courses are offered regularly:

  • 430: Attraction and Relationships
  • 440: Self-Regulation
  • 481: Theories in Social Psychology
  • 482: Research Methods in Social Psychology
  • 483: Social Cognition
  • 485: Psychology of Attitudes
  • 486: Stereotyping and Prejudice
  • 489: Special Topics in Social Psychology (e.g., Motivated Cognition, Psychology of Gender, The Self, Implicit Social Cognition, Cooperation and Prosocial Behavior).

Students are also required by the department to take a full year of statistics (three courses). Most students take additional statistics courses and practicums in topics like teaching, grant-writing, and research communication, and these are highly encouraged.  However, such courses do not count toward the two outside-area courses required for Social Area students. Finally, during their first year, students are required by the department to take (a) two quarters of a department-wide proseminar designed to introduce students to the field of psychology as a whole and (b) an ethics training sequence during a third quarter of this proseminar, although this additional quarter will be a not-for-credit course (Psychology 519).

In addition to enrolling in courses, students may receive course credit for independent, supervised research (Psychology 499) as part of a full-time load. This may only account for one credit per quarter during the first year of study, but may account for two credits in later years. A typical sequence for completing all of the required course work during one’s first two years in the program is outlined in the chart below. However, it is not uncommon for schedules to deviate based upon the availability of particular courses and for students to finish some of the required course work during the third year. Also, it should be noted that this schedule reflects the minimal requirements for coursework, but students frequently take additional courses beyond the minimum, particularly in Year 2.

Year 1

Fall

Winter

Spring

Proseminar

Proseminar

Ethics Training (non-credit)

Statistics Course

Statistics Course

Statistics Course

400-level Seminar

400-level Seminar

2 x 400-level Seminars or

400-level Seminar + Psych 499

Year 2

Fall

Winter

Spring

2 x 400-level Seminars

2 x 400-level Seminars

2 x 400-level Seminars

Psych 499

Psych 499

Psych 499

 

Within the framework of these basic requirements, students are free to develop a program of coursework that suits their particular career and research aspirations. Beyond the offered Psychology courses, relevant graduate courses may be offered by the Departments of Anthropology and Sociology, the School of Communications, the School of Education and Social Policy, and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management (particularly the Marketing and the Management and Organization Departments). These often (but not always) may serve as outside-area courses. In very special cases, a unique 300-level undergraduate course may also be substituted for a graduate course. Before enrolling in undergraduate courses or courses in other departments, prior approval is required from one’s advisor and the head of the Social Area, who will consult with the other faculty in the area in reaching a decision.