Social Psychology


Gender roles, diversity, interpersonal relations, as well as the effects of emotions and personality on health are just some of the topics taught and researched by the nationally and internationally recognized scholars in the Social Psychology area of Rutgers' graduate Psychology program.

Area Coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Rutgers Social Psychology Ph.D. Program prepares students for research and teaching careers in both academic and nonacademic settings.

Students work closely with faculty members on research projects of mutual interest. Rutgers has a very favorable ratio of about two to three graduate students per professor, and we encourage our students to work with multiple faculty members. Social Psychology faculty members employ state of the art research methods including the assessment of implicit beliefs and attitudes, psychophysiological measurements (e.g., heart rate variability), and eye tracking; have laboratories equipped for dyadic interactions, and medical suites; and employ multilevel modeling and structural equation modeling of naturalistic and laboratory data.

The Rutgers Social Psychology Program includes nationally and internationally recognized scholars, many of whom have received prestigious awards and honors.

For example, the Program boasts three Early Career Award recipients (Lee Jussim, 1996, APA Award for Scientific Contribution to Social Psychology; Diana T. Sanchez APA Division 9 Early Career Award for Contributions to the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Shana Cole APS Rising Star Award); two recipients of the Gordon Allport Prize for Research on Intergroup Relations (Lee Jussim, and Laurie Rudman [twice]), and the recipient of the 2014 APA Division 35 Carolyn Wood Sherif for lifetime career achievements (Laurie Rudman).

Applications for admission in September are due December 15 of the previous year.  See the How to Apply section of the Graduate Program Overview.

In addition, the Rutgers Social Psychology Program has a strong commitment to graduate and undergraduate teaching. In 2000, Richard Contrada received the Rutgers University Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching and Mentoring. Laurie Rudman and Diana Sanchez received School of Arts and Sciences Teaching Awards.

The Program has strengths in two main areas:

  1. Self, Interpersonal, and Intergroup Processes(Professors Aiello, Cole, Hackel, Hoggard, Jussim, Rudman, Sanchez, & Wilder).  One focus of research at Rutgers involves relations among self, interpersonal relations, and intergroup processes. Faculty interests include social cognition; stigma and identity; social issues and problems; development and use of categories to define the self and stereotypes to define others; prejudice; gender roles and beliefs; social decisions and valuation; motivation and goals; the role of identity in intergroup perception and conflict; self-fulfilling prophecies; managing workplace diversity; computer monitoring, telecommuting, and organizational change. Several members of the social faculty are associated with the Rutgers Center for Race and Ethnicity.

  2. Health Psychology: (Professors Cole, Contrada, Hoggard, & Sanchez).  Faculty interests include effects of emotions and personality on cardiovascular and immune systems; coping with environmental threats; the perception of health risk; health promotion and preventive health behavior; management of chronic disease; effect of chronic illness on emotional reactions and the self concept; racial/ethnic disparities, racial discrimination, stigma-related coping styles, physician reasoning, and patient utility assessment.  Social and Health students are part of a larger multidisciplinary group that draws upon members of the Clinical, Cognitive, and Behavioral Neuroscience Areas. Current research projects involve collaborative work with faculty in Medical Sociology, History of Medicine, Medical Economics, Medical Anthropology; the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research; the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; and the New Jersey Cancer Institute. Several members of the social faculty are associated with the Institute for Health.

Students have the options to pursue their doctoral degree in social psychology, social/health psychology, or a joint degree in social psychology and business.  Admission to the joint program in Business and Psychology is a separate application process that occurs after admission to the social psychology program.  Information regarding the joint doctoral program, can be found here.

Course of Study

The program is designed to be completed in 5 years (or less if students come in with a transferrable Masters degree) by which time a student is an accomplished research social psychologist.  Students finish a Masters thesis by the end of their second year, pass a Qualifying Exam in year 3, and defend their dissertation research in year 5.  Course work includes statistics, research methodology (laboratory and field designs, implicit methods, and psychophysiology), core courses in social psychology and health, and seminars reflecting faculty expertise. It is expected that students will be actively involved in research throughout these years.

Application and Selection Procedures

[Note: The following professors and laboratories have openings for students in this year's (2018) round of applications: Professors Aiello, Cole, Contrada, Hackel & Wilder]

Applications are strongly encouraged to be submitted no later than December 15th.

  • Students are selected on the basis of the following criteria:
    1. Potential for becoming excellent researchers and scholars.
    2. Availability of faculty advisors. The following advisors have lab openings and plan to review applications(due on 12/15/18) are Aiello, Cole, Contrada, Hackel & Wilder.
  • The last cohort admitted to the Psychology social program had an average GPA of 3.88; an average GRE Verbal score of 165 (93rd percentile); and an average Quantitative score of 161 (81st percentile). 
  • The typical class includes two to five students.

To apply please see the How To Apply section of the Graduate Program Overview or go directly to Graduate and Professional Admissions.

We value diversity in our program and encourage women and minorities to apply.

If you have specific questions about the program, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Social Psychology Area Coordinator or the specific faculty advisor that you hope to work with.