Clark University’s Ph.D. Program in Social Psychology: An Overview
An Introduction to the Program:
This program focuses on basic social psychological processes that underlie pressing social and political issues - locally, nationally, and globally. At Clark, this includes primarily the study of intergroup relations, societal peace and conflict, violence, health disparities, and commitment to social change, including political action and intervention. More generally, we examine the interaction of individual differences and social structures in producing and reflecting political attitudes, behavior, and health. We pay particular attention to how human experience—thought, behavior, feelings— is shaped by history and intersectionality of group memberships, and how social structure reinforces power relations. Students and faculty in the program use a wide variety of quantitative methods and qualitative methods, including lab and field experiments, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and archival research. The program encourages contextualized and interdisciplinary research, novel theoretical work, and methodological integration. For further information, contact Dr. Johanna Ray Vollhardt, head of the Social Psychology program.
Goals of the Program:
This program prepares students for academic, research, and policy careers in social psychology. Such preparation requires a student to: (1) develop a strong theoretical and methodological foundation and (2) begin a systematic program of research that will sustain them through the early stages of a career. Along the way, we provide opportunities to practice and perfect the skills of an academic. These include:
• designing and conducting research projects with multiple methods
• assisting in and teaching courses
• working with undergraduate researchers
• applying for grants
• presenting posters and papers at conferences and colloquia
• publishing collaborative and individual work in the scholarly journals of the field
Social graduate students are encouraged to work closely with one another, with advanced undergraduate students, and with faculty colleagues in developing their research programs. Over the course of the first three years, students can select from graduate courses, advanced undergraduate courses, courses at neighboring institutions, and courses developed for their needs with the social faculty. The primary training settings of the program though are the Department's research groups, forums, and lab meetings. These are groupings of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students drawn together regularly by common theoretical concerns, research interests, or training needs. All graduate students and faculty from the program meet weekly at our Social Forum, for which students receive course credit.
Graduate Education and Research Groups:
The principal educational settings of the program are the Department's research groups, forums, and lab meetings. These are groups of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students drawn together by common theoretical concerns and research interests. Groups are initiated both by faculty and by graduate students. All graduate students and faculty from the program meet weekly at our Social Forum, for which students receive course credit. Other coursework is minimal and includes elective courses within and beyond the Psychology department, with the aim of providing a strong theoretical and methodological foundation for the students’ program of research.
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