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The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology is founded on a vision of social psychology as the core discipline of human affairs. It represents an integration of psychological and sociological scholarship with a bio-psycho-social foundation, grounded in culture and gender, to form an interdisciplinary, contextualized perspective for the investigation of personal and social life. Our scholarship integrates the study of individuals, the small groups in which they interact, and the context of larger systems and organizations within which they exist. Our major areas of specialization are: social psychology and health; social psychology and law/justice; personal and social relationships; and organizational behavior, as well as the intersection of these areas. The mission of our doctoral program is to advance scientific knowledge of social psychological structures and processes, and to do so through scholarly study, training of PhD students, and dissemination of our knowledge in both scientific and applied communities. We are deeply committed to the guidance and instruction of graduate students as both junior colleagues and advanced students.

Our Program

The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology has existed at the University of Nevada, Reno for over 45 years. The interdisciplinary committee, which operates this program, awards a Regents-approved Ph.D. degree in Social Psychology. Similar to all interdisciplinary graduate programs at the University of Nevada, the Social Psychology Program is an autonomous unit, located independent of its participating departments. The Program is administered by a committee comprised of 17 faculty representatives from the Department of Psychology, the Department of Sociology, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, the School of Community Health Sciences, the Department of Management, Communication Studies, and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Adjunct faculty members (i.e., eligible to supervise second year research projects and serve as members of dissertation committees) are social psychologists with doctoral degrees who work in research positions at universities and organizations, such as the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Center for the Application of Substance Abuse Technology, and the Center for Applied Research. Four emeritus professors from Psychology and Management also contribute to the program. The present Director of the Program is from the Department of Sociology with doctoral training in both Psychology and Sociology.

The Program has approximately 40 students actively pursuing their Ph.D. degrees. The Program curriculum has a theory core and a methods core as well as a number of seminars, and emphasizes early involvement in research through several mechanisms, including first year research proposal development and a second year research project.

Research interests of the faculty range widely, and include the study of areas such as:

  • Intergroup relations and social networks
  • Health, well-being, & health policy
  • Law and Justice
  • Gender
  • Culture
  • Religion
  • Attitudes
  • Collective behavior
  • Social identity
  • Law & juvenile studies
  • Adolescence
  • Social psychology of education
  • Socialization
  • Interpersonal and family relationships
  • Political psychology
  • Bureaucracies and Organizations

A unique aspect of the program is its emphasis on an integration of the social psychology of health and law/justice. The Social Psychology Program also has links with the two national judicial education centers located at Nevada as well as with the Grant Sawyer Center for Justice Studies and the Sanford Center for Aging. The Program has special international ties in Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Japan, and Australia. Program faculty is also on the editorial board of a variety of international scholarly journals.

Program Features

Interdisciplinary Focus
The Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno is one of the oldest social psychology programs in the country. The interdisciplinary focus allows students to experience a wide range of perspectives in the field of social psychology. This holistic approach equips students with knowledge and understanding that prepares them for engaging and rewarding work in both academic and applied settings upon completion of the program.

Financial Commitment to Students
The faculty encourage doctoral students to benefit from an educational and research experience that allows them to devote their full-time efforts to scholarly development. Therefore, the Program’s goal is to find full-time (20 hours/week) support and tuition assistance for all of the students in the program. Through research assistantships, fellowships, teaching assistantships and participation in research grants, the program has been successful in funding first year students. In addition, students in their second year and beyond who are making adequate progress toward degree completion (and seeking support) have maintained funding throughout completion of the degree. Although state and national economic conditions can impact the availability of funding for graduate education we will continue assisting students in their pursuit of assistantships, fellowships, grants, and other support for the pursuit of their doctoral education.

Mentoring Program
Students enter the program with an initial faculty advisor in their area of interest who, together with the Program Director, guides the student through the first year. By the end of the first year (earlier when possible), students develop a mentoring relationship with a faculty member of the Program (the initial advisor or another faculty member). The faculty mentor can be the student's research supervisor for the second year research project and later dissertation, but need not be; and mentors can be changed. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program and student research interests, students may also work with more than one faculty member on research projects. All students have a primary research supervisor who chairs the dissertation and provides guidance.

Encouragement of Professional Involvement and Achievement
Students are encouraged to engage in scholarly research, often in collaboration with faculty, to present research at professional meetings, and to publish in reviewed journals and volumes. The Ph.D. Program and the Graduate Student Association of the University helps facilitate professional development through financial support of student travel and research.

Brown Bags
The Department also holds brown bags throughout each semester, in which students and faculty from the program present informally in front of their peers, often in preparation for conferences or to elicit ideas on how to improve their research. You can find the current brown bag schedule here and an archive of past brown bags here.



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UNR Interdisciplinary Social Psychology Program
Mailstop 300
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557