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Social Psychology

Under the unifying theme of health and well-being, our faculty study how acceptance and belonging, close relationships, social identities, and connections with the natural world shape individuals' psychological, social, and health outcomes.

Icon on warm white quotation marks.

"At Miami, I learned theory and methods inside and out, but I also learned softer skills that are just as important but not necessarily the things I thought about when I was applying for grad school. Skills like collaborating with others, juggling multiple projects and reponsibilities, picking service opportunities, and how to decode letters from editors after submitting to a journal."

Michael Bernstein, Miami Ph.D. 2010, Associate Professor of Psychology, Penn State Abington

Our approach

  • Fostered by a low student-to-faculty ratio, our program emphasizes extensive collaboration among faculty and students. Our students typically work with several faculty members and participate in multiple lab groups during their graduate training.
  • Diversity in training experiences and research approaches is strongly encouraged.
  • We strive for rigorous training in cutting-edge psychological methods and statistics, with a deep focus on theory testing and development.
  • Students in the doctoral program can expect to earn multiple professional publications and to present their scholarship at national and international conferences.
  • Graduates typically find positions at high-profile universities, smaller colleges that focus on undergraduate teaching, industry and other private sector positions, and governmental agencies.
  • We strive to foster a friendly, highly collaborative atmosphere amongst graduate students and faculty. Many of our students work with multiple faculty members and collaborate with one another on research projects.
  • We care deeply about making our work both fun and productive, and our program is both intense yet very supportive.
  • Student present research presentations at Social Psychology Research Interest Group weekly meetings.
  • Each year we bring in several prominent off-campus speakers to present their research.
Please direct questions to Dr. Heather Claypool,
student presenting poster

Areas of Strength

  • Belonging and Social Connection
  • Close Relationships and Health
  • Stigma, Social Identity, and Health
  • Group-Based Disparities
  • Self and Interconnected Others

Learn More


Throughout their time in the Social Psychology program, students are continuously involved in research. Research involvement begins immediately with faculty supervised research apprenticeship and the development of student-designed projects. 

In addition to the general department requirements, students are required to complete six graduate seminars in social psychology, at least three of which must be core social seminars (i.e., PSY 630s). The remaining three seminars may be core seminars (i.e. PSY 630s) or more topical seminars (i.e., PSY 730s). These graduate seminars provide students with strong foundations in social psychology and social psychological approaches to the study of health and well-being.

The rotation of core seminars (PSY 630s) includes belonging and close relationships, health and well-being, intergroup relations, and social cognition and motivation,with each of these courses being offered once every two years (1 PSY 630 per semester).

In addition, the social faculty offer topical seminars (PSY 730s) that reflect faculty expertise and interest in more focused areas of social psychology and the study of health and well-being. Recent PSY 730 offerings include biomarkers in health psychology, power and status, social exclusion, and stigma. 

For social area graduate students, the comprehensive examination must be passed prior to beginning their dissertation. In addition, all social students must obtain some type of teaching experience, which includes enrolling in a seminar in teaching and pedagogy.

The department offers specific coursework to help students develop their teaching accumen, and there are a number of opportunities for graduate students to obtain advanced certifications (e.g., certificate in college teaching, quantitative expertise) in the department and in the university more broadly (as well as attend annual conferences, such as the Lilly Conference on College Teaching, held each Fall on campus at Miami).

Satisfying the minimum requirements of the Social Psychology program, however, is only a start toward becoming an active social psychologist. Much of one's education and training takes place in informal settings, which include daily discussions with other students and faculty, reading journals and scholarly volumes, attending conferences and presenting one's work to the field.

Members of the social area meet weekly at SPRIG (Social Psychology Research Interest Group) to present and discuss ongoing research. Each year numerous social students present papers at regional (e.g.. MPA), national (e.g., SPSP, APS) and international conferences and have papers accepted for publication in scholarly journals.


In the first year, graduate students develop their specific professional goals and research specialization in consultation with their faculty advisor. Each student's program of study should be related to the expertise of the social faculty, but it may also involve faculty in other areas of psychology.

During the second year, students should complete a master's thesis, and afterwards, compose a reading list for their comprehensive examination (usually completed during the third year).

In their last year of the program, students complete a dissertation.

Throughout the training program, students attend departmental and program events, give professional presentations at scientific conferences, publish articles in social psychology journals, and develop skills and expertise to translate social psychology to others through teaching, mentorship, and other forms of public dissemination.


Students with a concentration in Social typically work with one of the following faculty from the Department of Psychology. Prospective students are highly encouraged to contact potential research advisors directly before applying.

  • Dr. Heather Claypool
  • Dr. Allison Farrell
  • Dr. Jeffrey Hunger
  • Dr. Allen McConnell

Department of Psychology

90 North Patterson Avenue
Oxford, OH 45056