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Overview of Graduate Programs


Our graduate programs will provide graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to become successful consumers and producers of psychological science. Psychology is a broad discipline that interfaces with the biological and social sciences and our program is organized around five concentrations that demonstrate the breadth of psychological science: (1) Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology, (2) Social-Personality Psychology, (3) Behavioral Health Psychology, (4) Developmental Psychology, and (5) Cognition, Perception, and Neuroscience. Students seeking either the MS degree or the Ph.D. will select one of these concentration areas.


Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology Concentration (MS and Ph.D. programs)
The MS with a concentration in Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology is a two-year terminal degree program in experimental methodology. The Ph.D. is a four-year program aimed at preparing the candidate for an academic career in Evolutionary Psychology or Comparative Psychology. Research within this concentration has the principle goal of gaining a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of human and non-human psychology and behavior by exploring research questions as they pertain to natural and sexual selection. The concentration targets the development of the research skills necessary to pursue (MS or complete (Ph.D.) doctoral training in areas of psychology, such as evolutionary perspectives on cognitive processes, individual differences, and factors influencing behavior in both humans and non-humans. Faculty in the Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology concentration have varied, active research programs currently investigating several facets of psychological experience, including human and non-human cognition, prosociality, cooperation, memory, concept formation, theory of mind, individual differences, behavioral endocrinology, mate choice, interpersonal relationships, mate guarding/jealousy, mate choice copying, person perception, preferences, attractiveness, human sexual behavior, and animal/human interactions.

Core Faculty for the Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology Concentration:
Dr. Todd Shackelford (e-mail: shackelf@oakland.edu; website: ToddKShackelford.com)
Dr. Jennifer Vonk (e-mail: vonk@oakland.edu; website: jennifervonk.com)
Dr. Lisa Welling (e-mail: welling@oakland.edu; website: wellingresearchlab.com)
Dr. Virgil Zeigler-Hill (e-mail: zeiglerh@oakland.edu; website: zeigler-hill.com)
Dr. Melissa McDonald (e-mail: mmmcdonald@oakland.edu; website: www.melissa-m-mcdonald.com)


Social-Personality Psychology Concentration (MS and Ph.D. programs)
The Master of Science (MS) with a concentration in Social-Personality Psychology is a two-year terminal degree program in experimental methodology. The Ph.D. is a four-year program aimed at preparing the candidate for an academic career in Social-Personality Psychology. Graduate students in the Social-Personality concentration will be exposed to course work concerning the theoretical foundations of the discipline and will acquire the quantitative skills and expertise in research methodology that is necessary to contribute to the advancement of the field of social-personality psychology. Through formal and informal aspects of the program, graduate students will develop skills in conceptual analysis of social-personality psychology, research design, data analysis, scientific writing, teaching, editorial reviewing, and scholarly presentations. Faculty in the Social-Personality Psychology concentration have varied, active research programs currently investigating several facets of psychological experience, including self-esteem, dark personality features (e.g., narcissism, psychopathy), posttraumatic growth, social influence (e.g., obedience, conformity), alcohol use, physiological correlates of social behavior (e.g., hormonal variations), romantic relationships, mate choice, sexual violence, sexual risk-taking, infidelity, and jealousy.

Core Faculty for the Social-Personality Psychology Concentration:
Dr. Michele Parkhill Purdie (e-mail: parkhill@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15781&sid=380)
Dr. Todd Shackelford (e-mail: shackelf@oakland.edu; website: ToddKShackelford.com)
Dr. Kanako Taku (e-mail: taku@oakland.edu; website: kanakotaku.wordpress.com)
Dr. Lisa Welling (e-mail: welling@oakland.edu; website: wellingresearchlab.com)
Dr. Virgil Zeigler-Hill (e-mail: zeiglerh@oakland.edu; website: zeigler-hill.com)
Dr. Melissa McDonald (e-mail: mmmcdonald@oakland.edu; website: www.melissa-m-mcdonald.com)


Behavioral Health Psychology Concentration (MS program)
The MS with a concentration in Behavioral Health is a two-year terminal degree program in experimental methodology. The concentration is aimed at developing the research skills necessary to pursue doctoral training in health or applied areas. Faculty in the Behavioral Health concentration have active research programs investigating cardiovascular health, obesity, sexual risk taking, addictive behaviors, sleep, stress, trauma, and emotion regulation.

Core Faculty for the Behavioral Health Psychology Concentration:
Dr. Andrea Kozak (e-mail:  kozak@oakland.edu; website: sites.google.com/a/oakland.edu/dr-andrea-t-kozak/home)
Dr. Michele Parkhill Purdie (e-mail: parkhill@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15781&sid=380)
Dr. Scott Pickett (e-mail: pickett@oakland.edu; website: sites.google.com/a/oakland.edu/t3rlab/)


Developmental Psychology Concentration (MS and Ph.D. programs)
The MS with a concentration in Developmental Psychology is a two-year terminal degree program in experimental methodology. The Ph.D. is a four-year program aimed at preparing the candidate for an academic career in Developmental Psychology. Faculty in the Developmental Psychology concentration have varied, active research programs currently investigating several facets of psychological experience including prosocial behavior, aging, parenting, attachment, theories concerning nutrition and health, and language comprehension.

Core Faculty for the Developmental Psychology Concentration:
Dr. Mary Lewis (e-mail: eberly@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15785&sid=380)
Dr. Deb McGinnis (e-mail: mcginnis@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15787&sid=380)
Dr. Lakshmi Raman (e-mail: raman@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15790&sid=380)
Dr. Jennifer Vonk (e-mail: vonk@oakland.edu; website: jennifervonk.com)


Cognition, Perception, and Neuroscience Concentration (MS and Ph.D. programs)
The MS with a concentration in Cognition, Perception, and Neuroscience is a two-year terminal degree program in experimental methodology. The Ph.D. is a four-year program aimed at preparing the candidate for an academic career in Cognitive Psychology, Sensation-Perception, or Behavioral Neuroscience. Faculty in the Cognition, Perception, and Neuroscience concentration have varied, active research programs currently investigating several facets of psychological experience including human and animal cognition and physiology, memory, theory of mind, religiosity, categorization, creativity, face and emotion processing, vision, and the physiological and behavioral effects of drug use.

Core Faculty for the Cognition, Perception, and Neuroscience Concentration:
Dr. Dean Purcell (e-mail: purcell@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15789&sid=380)
Dr. Cynthia Sifonis (e-mail: sifonis@oakland.edu; website: cindy.sifonis.com)
Dr. Jennifer Vonk (e-mail: vonk@oakland.edu; website: jennifervonk.com)
Dr. Lisa Welling (e-mail: welling@oakland.edu; website: wellingresearchlab.com)
Dr. Keith Williams (e-mail: william9@oakland.edu; website: oakland.edu/?id=15794&sid=380)


Goals for the MS and Ph.D. Programs
The MS degree is intended to help students achieve either of two goals: (1) successful admission into and completion of a Ph.D. program in psychology or (2) acquisition of the advanced research skills and knowledge of psychological science necessary for successful participation and advancement in an array of career paths across multiple market sectors. It is important to note that MS students will complete coursework alongside Ph.D. students including intensive core education in the conduct of psychological science (i.e., courses in research design and statistical analysis) as well as specific concentration areas (e.g., social-personality psychology, evolutionary and comparative psychology).

The Ph.D. degree is intended to prepare students for a position in academia in which they will conduct and publish original research in addition to teaching and training the next generation of students. As part of their doctoral degree, Ph.D. students will conduct and defend an original research project that represents a substantial contribution to the field. In addition to this focused study, students will also complete several intensive courses to ensure that they are broadly educated in the psychological sciences. Through this focused and intensive study in one concentration area and rich exposure to other core areas of psychology, Ph.D. students will be prepared to consume and produce psychological research. 


Additional Information
If you have any questions about these programs, please contact Dr. Virgil Zeigler-Hill (zeiglerh@oakland.edu).


It is important to note that we do not offer degrees in the applied areas of psychology (i.e., clinical, counseling, or school). This means that students who graduate from our program will not be eligible for employment in applied settings (e.g., our graduates cannot apply for licensure as a mental health provider in Michigan). However, students interested in applying to Ph.D. programs that specialize in the applied areas of psychology may benefit from the research training we provide in our MS program.