Graduate Program

The Doctoral Program in the Department of Psychology offers three concentrations: Behavioral Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology, and Medical/Clinical Psychology. Upon completion of any of these concentrations the student receives a Ph.D. in Psychology.  A terminal master's degree is not offered.

Behavioral Neuroscience

Training in Behavioral Neuroscience  is designed to prepare students for independent research and teaching in the neurobiology of behavior. Research training is provided by faculty in the Department of Psychology and in the UAB Schools of Medicine and Optometry, who share an interest in the biological basis of behavior. The course of study includes a core curriculum in neuroscience and recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of this field. Students obtain strong backgrounds in behavioral science and in neuroscience and gain expertise in the content and techniques of selected areas of neuroscience as they apply to the study of behavior.

Faculty laboratories are equipped for research in behavior, neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neuroimaging, neuropharmacology, neurophysiology, and molecular biology. The research interests of the faculty include neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the visual system; interactions between the central nervous system and the periphery in the control of feeding and energy balance; neural underpinnings of obesity and plasticity in participants in a weight loss program; autism; emotional substrates of conditioned fear; neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of pain.

Developmental Psychology

Training in Developmental Psychology prepares students to discover and apply basic principles of development across the lifespan in an interdisciplinary research context. Our premise is that the application of psychological principles of development can contribute in important ways to solving problems encountered throughout the lifespan. Graduates are capable of taking positions in institutions of higher learning, medical schools, research institutions, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other research and teaching positions.

Research training is provided by the faculty of the Department of Psychology and may occur in collaboration with faculty across campus including the Civitan International Research Center, the Center for Aging, the Center for Applied Gerontology, the Department of Pediatrics, The School of Public Health, and other centers and departments.

The research programs of faculty with interests in lifespan developmental psychology include a wide variety of topics from infancy to the elderly. Much of this research is funded by federal research grants. Research subareas include: injury prevention, developmental disabilities (with special interests in Autism Spectrum Disorders, prenatal development and exposure to toxic substances, early intervention, adolescent psychosocial development and mental health); adolescence (with special interest in longitudinal studies, interactions between health and development, alcohol and drug use, predictors of depression and suicide, family and peer relations, those with special health care or education needs); and aging (with special interest in visual-perceptual problems of older adults with low vision, memory skills training with elderly populations, the psychological aspects of chronic illness in the elderly, chronically ill individuals, care giving in families of elderly persons, human factor issues in vision and aging).

Developmental Psychology students must complete a master's thesis. Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree is based on satisfactory completion of coursework and completion of an area review in the form of a Psychological Bulletin or Psychological Review article. The doctoral degree is awarded upon successful defense of the dissertation.

Medical/Clinical Psychology

Training in Medical / Clinical Psychology  prepares students to become leaders in health promotion, disease prevention, risk reduction, and symptom assessment and amelioration in interdisciplinary and medical settings. Research, course work and clinical training emphasize behavioral and psychological factors associated with medical illness and injury as well as neurobehavioral and psychological disorders across the lifespan. The Medical/Clinical Psychology concentration is accredited as a clinical psychology doctoral program by the American Psychological Association (

The Medical/Clinical Psychology concentration is co-sponsored by the Department of Psychology (College of Arts and Sciences) and the UAB School of Medicine. Faculty are distributed across multiple academic departments and divisions, including but not limited to Psychology, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Neurology, Preventive Medicine, Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Clinical psychologists and researchers in UAB-affiliated clinics and research centers, the Children's of Alabama Hospital, the Birmingham VA Medical Center and throughout the community also play active roles in teaching as well as research mentoring and clinical supervision.

Research programs in which faculty and students are currently involved include: accidental injury and child abuse risk prevention; adolescence, aging, autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders and developmental disabilities; chronic pain; coping with medical illness, dementia, eating disorders and obesity;  epilepsy; minority health issues and health disparities; neural plasticity; neuroimaging; pediatric oncology; response to stress and psychological trauma; rehabilitation following traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, stroke and neurobehavioral disease; sleep and feeding problems of childhood; and substance abuse.

With appropriate approvals it is possible to complete the Master of Science in Public Health program and the Medical/Clinical Psychology concentration concurrently.

Application and Admissions

Applications are invited both from students with bachelor's degrees and from those who may have already completed some graduate study.  Admission to the Psychology graduate program is highly selective. Applications are evaluated as a whole without minimum criteria on any single indicators. Transcripts are evaluated for the content and difficulty of courses completed as well as grades received. All programs follow an affirmative action/equal opportunity process to ensure that all applicants are evaluated fairly and on the basis of their individual merit. Brief information regarding admission to the three Psychology concentrations appears below.  For up-to-date details, including deadlines and specific requirements, prospective applicants should consult the Psychology Graduate Program website (

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Behavioral Neuroscience, students with diverse backgrounds in psychology, biology, and physical science are encouraged to apply. All students are expected to have undergraduate training in psychology, biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Students not trained in one or more of these areas may be required to make up deficits after enrollment.

Developmental Psychology admission requires a solid background in psychology as well as some courses in the life sciences. Research experience is essential. Excellent grades in statistics and mathematics are also valued.

Medical/Clinical Psychology requires a strong background in psychology (including statistics and research design; cognitive, biological, and affective bases of behavior; abnormal psychology and personality). Advanced course work in mathematics and natural science (especially anatomy and physiology) is also recommended. Relevant research experience is considered an important indication of the applicant's motivation and commitment to program goals, and prior experience with clinical populations is also advantageous. The relevance of the applicant's goals and interests to ongoing activities of our faculty is weighed heavily in admissions decisions.


Behavioral Neuroscience students are advised by the Behavioral Neuroscience Director in consultation with a program steering committee and by their research preceptors until the dissertation committee is appointed, usually early in the third year of study.

Students accepted into the Developmental Psychology specialization are matched with a faculty member who agrees to mentor that student. Therefore, applicants will need to identify faculty members with whom they share research interest and would like to study.

Medical/Clinical Psychology students are advised by their research mentor, an individually-tailored advisory committee, and the Director of Medical/Clinical Psychology.

Financial Aid

All students in the Psychology Doctoral Program receive financial aid, including a stipend, tuition and health insurance for at least 5 years. Sources of support include fellowships, traineeships, assistantships, and tuition scholarships.

Additional Information

For further information please visit the websites listed below. Questions may be directed to the appropriate Director or to the Psychology Graduate Program Manager, Ms. Terri Roberson, at 205-934-8723 or

Behavioral Neuroscience


Dr.  David C. Knight, Director

Developmental Psychology


Dr. Despina Stavrinos, Director

Medical/Clinical Psychology


Dr. Edwin W. Cook III, Director

Graduate Certificate in Social & Behavioral Statistics

The Graduate Certificate in Social & Behavioral Statistics is available to students currently enrolled in a Graduate Program who have a 3.0 GPA or higher.

SOC 707Statistical Programming for Social Sciences3
Advanced Statistics Courses 112
Multivariate Statistical Methods
Lab for Multivariate Statistical Methods
Longitudinal Data Analysis Laboratory
Advanced Longitudinal and Multi-level Data Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling
Categorical Data Analysis
Total Hours15


Program Director Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D.


PY 520. Special Topics in Psychology. 1-3 Hour.

This course will provide introductory, graduate level training in topics within the fields of behavioral neuroscience, developmental psychology, medical/clinical psychology, and research methods.

PY 619. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Research and the Workplace. 1 Hour.

Definitions of the terms diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to evolve in our society and it is essential that individuals have clear understandings of these terms that are shaped by interactions with individuals from a variety of cultures and differing levels of social status. Additionally, research studies can contain selection bias as the individuals who agree to participate may not be representative of the larger populations the studies are targeted to assess. This course will enable students to: (1) receive perspectives on diversity, equity and inclusion from the instructor, experts in the areas, and members of subgroups who have experienced a lack of resources and/or discrimination, (2) learn strategies that can be utilized to provide outreach efforts to the communities they are interested in studying, (3) recruit more representative samples, and (4) foster work environments that are inclusive and not offensive to any team members.

PY 620. Special Topics in Psychology. 1-3 Hour.

This course will provide training in advanced topics in the fields of behavioral neuroscience, developmental psychology, medical/clinical psychology, and research methods.

PY 652. Biofeedback, Meditation and Self-Regulation. 3 Hours.

History and current applications of biofeedback, meditation, and relaxation techniques.

PY 653. Foundations of Behavioral Neuroscience. 4 Hours.

Neural systems which control behavior will be studied, incorporating knowledge gained from neurobiological and psychological research. Topics will include synaptic communication, sensation and perception, movement, genetic influences on behavior, motivation, emotions, psychopathology, brain plasticity, and an extended module on learning.

PY 683. Developmental Disabilities. 3 Hours.

History, causes, treatment/education, interventions, and family issues related to developmental disabilities and other neuro-differences. Psychologist as member of interdisciplinary treatment team. There will be a focus on identifying patterns of strengths and weaknesses in various disorders.

PY 687. The Dynamics of Pain. 3 Hours.

This course provides a comprehensive study of pain, from basic anatomy through clinical treatment and measurement.

PY 693. Cognitive Neuroscience. 3 Hours.

How cognitive processing originates from brains. Focus on synthetic approaches to sensory-input guided behavior implemented in a biologically realistic manner; neurobiological wetware underlying cognition; study and construction of synthetic approaches that emulate biological behavior and psychological processes.

PY 698. Premaster's Degree Graduate Research. 1-12 Hour.

Premaster's Degree Graduate Research.

PY 699. Master's Level Thesis Research. 1-12 Hour.

Master's Level Thesis Research.
Prerequisites: GAC M

PY 701. Professional Issues and Ethics in Psychology. 1 Hour.

Ethics, professionalism, diversity, licensure, and legal issues in health service and academic psychology. Human research ethics in biobehavioral and clinical science.

PY 704. Social Psychology. 3 Hours.

Interpersonal relationships and effects of social environment on social perception and human behavior.

PY 707. Brain and Cognition. 3 Hours.

Integration of cognitive, behavioral, biological, and computational perspectives on perception, attention, learning and memory, language, problem-solving and creativity, and judgment and decision-making.

PY 708. Developmental Psychology. 3 Hours.

Human development from prenatal period to old age. Genetic and environmental determinants of behavior; linguistic, cognitive, intellectual, personality, social, and emotional development.

PY 710. Seminar in Lifespan Developmental Psychology. 1 Hour.

Discussion of scientific and professional development issues related to developmental psychology.

PY 711. Seminar in Cognitive Development. 3 Hours.

Seminar in the development of and changes in memory, perception, learning, and thinking throughout the lifespan.

PY 712. Seminar in Social Development. 3 Hours.

Theory and research related to attachment, origins of the self and self-esteem, family relationships, peer relationships, morality, and aggression.

PY 713. Seminar in Language Development. 3 Hours.

Research and theory related to normal and deviant language development.

PY 716. Introduction to Statistics and Measurement. 3 Hours.

Probability, measurement, descriptive statistics, sampling distributions, null hypothesis significance testing, means comparisons, correlation, regression, reliability, validity, categorical data analysis, and nonparametric methods.

PY 716L. Lab for Introduction to Statistics and Measurement. 1 Hour.

Computer laboratory for PY 716 Introduction to Statistics and Measurement.

PY 717. Applied Statistical Methods. 3 Hours.

Statistical hypothesis testing in the context of the univariate general linear model: 1-way and factorial analysis of variance, multiple comparison procedures, multiple regression and repeated measures.
Prerequisites: PY 716 [Min Grade: C]

PY 717L. Lab for Applied Statistical Methods. 1 Hour.

Computer laboratory for PY 717 Applied Statistical Methods.
Prerequisites: PY 716L [Min Grade: C]

PY 718. Advanced Research Design. 3 Hours.

Presentation and discussion of advanced topics in research design, such as statistical and experimental control, adaptive and other between-groups experimental designs, and program evaluation. The class culminates in preparation of a research grant application.

PY 719. Multivariate Statistical Methods. 3 Hours.

Multiple regression, mediation and moderation, multivariate analysis of variance, logistic regression, principal components and factor analysis, and introduction to structural equation modeling.
Prerequisites: PY 717 [Min Grade: C]

PY 719L. Lab for Multivariate Statistical Methods. 1 Hour.

Laboratory for PY 719 Multivariate Statistical Methods.
Prerequisites: PY 717L [Min Grade: C]

PY 720. Human Neuropsychology. 3 Hours.

Structure and function of human brain; effects of neurological impairment on cognitive, affective, and personality functions.
Prerequisites: PY 707 [Min Grade: C](Can be taken Concurrently) or PY 653 [Min Grade: C](Can be taken Concurrently) or PY 693 [Min Grade: C](Can be taken Concurrently)

PY 721. Neuropsychological Assessment. 3 Hours.

Assessment of various types of neuropsychological disorders, including interpretation of test results and communication of findings via oral presentations and written reports. Emphasis is on analytical thinking, ethical considerations, practical applications of neuroscientific research and incorporating knowledge of ethnic and cultural factors.
Prerequisites: PY 720 [Min Grade: C]

PY 727. Longitudinal Data Analysis Laboratory. 3 Hours.

Hands-on advanced statistics class focusing on analyses of longitudinal data. Topics include multilevel (hierarchical) models, latent growth curve models, Generalized Estimating Equations, and group-based longitudinal models.
Prerequisites: PY 719 [Min Grade: C]

PY 729. Seminar in Adolescent Development. 3 Hours.

Seminar in Adolescent Development. Theoretical models and empirical findings related to biological, psychological, and socio-historical changes in adolescent development.
Prerequisites: PY 719 [Min Grade: C]

PY 731. Health Psychology. 3 Hours.

Prevention, health enhancement and intervention. Environmental, interpersonal and marketplace factors in health and disease. Basic concepts, methods and instruments in health psychology assessment.

PY 734. Applied Developmental Psychology. 3 Hours.

Creating programs and policies to apply developmental science in order to improve human development. Establishing partnerships for developing and sustaining the applied scientific research on which such programs and policies are based.

PY 737. Psychology of Eating Disorders & Obesity. 3 Hours.

History, epidemiology, genetic, environmental, and behavioral correlates and prevention and treatment strategies of eating disorders and obesity; mechanisms of normal feeding and weight control and research methods used to understand other psychiatric disorders.

PY 740. Adult Personality and Psychopathology. 3 Hours.

Fundamental theories, concepts, issues, and methodologies of adult psychopathology and its relationship to normal personality and personality disorders. Focuses on the major syndromes of mental disorder from both biological and psychosocial perspectives.

PY 741. Child and Adolescent Psychopathology and Treatment. 3 Hours.

Development, etiology, diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioral disorders affecting children and adolescents. Incorporates historical and contemporary issues pertaining to their phenomenology, comorbidity, and epidemiology along with cultural, ethical and professional issues germane to clinical care.
Prerequisites: PY 708 [Min Grade: C]

PY 742. Sport Psychology. 3 Hours.

Psychological factors in athletic performance. Psychological characteristics of successful athletes; anxiety arousal, motivation, attention, concentration, attribution, cognition, and imagery.

PY 746. Structural Equation Modeling. 3 Hours.

Basic steps in structural equation modeling - model identification, estimation, evaluation and modification - as well as advanced topics such as confirmatory factor analysis, latent variables, multi-group modeling, analysis of non-normally-distributed and categorical data, missing data, and sample size estimation.
Prerequisites: PY 719 [Min Grade: C]

PY 749. Social Psychophysiology. 3 Hours.

Current research on the effects of the social world on hormonal responses (cortisol, testosterone etc.). Several research articles will be discussed every week in a seminar format.

PY 751. Human Psychopharmacology. 2 Hours.

Neurophysiological underpinnings and clinical use of drugs for the treatment of mental disorders and pain.

PY 754. Advanced Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience. 3 Hours.

Methods and discoveries in the neuroscience of behavior, such as brain imaging, human and animal learning, perception, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and psychiatric disorders. Most students will have taken 753/453 as a prerequisite, but other high level neuroscience courses may also suffice with permission of the instructor.
Prerequisites: PY 753 [Min Grade: C]

PY 756. Research Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience. 1 Hour.

Scientific and professional development including scientific writing and communication skills, discussion of current literature, and presentation of ongoing research from students in the Behavioral Neuroscience doctoral program.

PY 760. Interviewing and Behavioral Observation. 2 Hours.

Theory and practice of interviewing and behavioral assessment with adult and child populations.

PY 764. Cognitive Assessment: Child and Adult. 3 Hours.

Cognitive assessment of children and adults focusing on issues related to assessment, Bayley Scales of Infant/Toddler Assessment, Differential Ability Scales, Wechsler scales and additional cognitive, academic, memory, and learning tests.

PY 765. Personality Assessment. 2 Hours.

Objective personality assessment, primarily focusing on Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.

PY 769. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. 3 Hours.

Review of cognitive behavioral theory and methods with emphasis on empirically validated individual and group, including brief, interventions.

PY 770. Survey of Psychotherapeutic Methods. 3 Hours.

Procedures for changing maladaptive behavior. Research and methodological issues, factors common to most therapy, and major therapeutic techniques.

PY 777. Psychotherapy Practice Shadowing. 1 Hour.

Introduction to psychotherapy practice by sitting in on therapy (consented) with a practicing psychologist.

PY 779. Foundations of Clinical Supervision and Consultation. 1 Hour.

Methods, models, and ethical considerations related to clinical supervision and interprofessional consultation in diverse cultural and professional contexts.

PY 785. Psychology of Aging. 3 Hours.

The relationship between aging and health, cognitive function, intelligence, personality, relationships, and psychopathology. Other topics covered in this course include assessment and treatment of psychological disorders in older adults, end-of-life issues, caregiving and dementia.

PY 788. Pediatric Psychology. 2 Hours.

Behavioral influences on health and illness; impact of health problems and illness on behavior and development of children and adolescents; family issues related to these interactions.

PY 790. Internship in Clinical Psychology. 9 Hours.

Completion of an APA-accredited internship in clinical psychology.

PY 791. Special Topics in Psychology. 1-3 Hour.

Topics and prerequisites vary.

PY 792. Introduction to Neurobiology. 6 Hours.

Introduction to the neurobiological bases of neuronal communication and behavior. Topics include invertebrate and vertebrate neuroanatomy, neurons and glia, resting potentials, action potentials, synaptic transmission, neurotransmitters and receptors, sensory transduction, and sensorimotor integration. The course is taught at Dauphin Island Sea Lab Facilities, Dauphin Island, Alabama.

PY 795. Community Practicum in Psychology. 1-3 Hour.

This course will provide academic credit for training and supervised experiences in selected community service agencies. Service learning is a significant component of this course.

PY 796. Practicum in the Teaching of Psychology. 1-9 Hour.

Practicum in the teaching of psychology.

PY 797. Clinical Practicum in Medical Psychology. 1-4 Hour.

Practicum training in clinical and medical psychology, supervised by a licensed mental health professional.

PY 798. Predoctoral Degree Graduate Research. 1-12 Hour.

Predoctoral degree graduate research.

PY 799. Doctoral Dissertation Research. 1-12 Hour.

Doctoral dissertation research.
Prerequisites: GAC Z


Amthor, Franklin R., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, 1984, B.S. (Cornell), Ph.D. (Duke)
Ball, Karlene K., University Professor, Director, Center for Research in Applied Gerontology; Professor of Psychology, Associate Director, Comprehensive Center for Healthy Aging, 1996, B.A. (Indiana), M.S., Ph.D. (Northwestern)
Boggiano, Mary M., Associate Professor of Psychology, 2000, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Texas at El-Paso)
Clay, Olivio, Professor of Psychology, Director, Developmental Psychology Doctoral Program, 2007, B.S., M.A., Ph.D. (UAB)
Cook, Edwin W. III, Associate Professor of Psychology, Director, Medical/Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, 1986, B.S. (Pennsylvania), M.S., Ph.D. (Wisconsin)
Crowe, Michael, Professor of Psychology, Assistant Director of the Center for Research on Applied Gerontology, 2006, B.S. (Illinois), M.A., Ph.D. (Southern California)
Dobias, Joshua, Assistant Professor of Psychology, 2019, B.S. (Northern Michigan ), M.A. ( New Hampshire), M.S.T., Ph.D.
Dolby, Greer A., Assistant Professor of Biology, 2022, B.A. (Boston University), M.S., Ph.D (UCLA), Evolutionary biology, speciation, geogenomics, Earth-life system
Gampher, J. Eric, Assistant Professor of Psychology, 2008, B.S. (Florida State), Ph.D. (UAB)
Guest, Kristi C., Associate Professor of Psychology, 2003, B.S., M.A., Ph.D. (UAB)
Henrich, Christopher C, Professor of Psychology and Chair of Psychology, 2021, B.A. (Chicago), Ph.D. (Yale)
Hopkins, Maria, Professor of Psychology, Director, Undergraduate Studies of Psychology, 2007, B.S., M.A., Ph.D. (UAB)
Kennedy, Bridge H., Associate Professor of Psychology, Director of Online Psychology, 2013, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (UAB)
Knight, David C., Professor of Psychology; Director, Behavioral Neuroscience Doctoral Program, 2007, B.S. (Truman State), M.S., Ph.D. (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Mrug, Sylvie, University Professor, Professor of Psychology, 2005, M.A. (Charles), M.S., Ph.D. (Purdue)
O'Kelley, Sarah E., Associate Professor of Psychology, 2012, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Alabama)
Richter, Caroline G., Assistant Professor of Psychology, 2022, B.A. (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil), M.S., Ph.D. (University of Louisville)
Schwebel, David C., University Professor and Associate Vice President, 2000, B.A. (Yale), M.A., Ph.D. (Iowa)
Sloane, Michael E., Associate Professor of Psychology, Director, University Honors Program, 1982, B.A., M.A. (University College, Dublin), Ph.D. (Northwestern)
Sorge, Robert, Associate Professor of Psychology, 2012, H.B.Sc. (McMaster), M.A. (Wilfrid Laurier), Ph.D. (Concordia)
Stavrinos, Despina, Professor of Psychology, 2011, B.S. (Alabama), M.A., Ph.D. (UAB)
Strang, Christianne, Assistant Professor of Psychology, 2014, B.S. (Miami), M.A. (Vermont), Ph.D. (UAB)
Taub, Edward, University Professor, Professor of Psychology, 1986, B.A. (Brooklyn), M.A. (Columbia), Ph.D. (New York)
Tucker, Diane C., Professor Emerita of Psychology, 1984, B.S., M.S., Ph.D. (Iowa)
Uswatte, Gitendra, Professor of Psychology, 2001, B.A. (Princeton), M.A., Ph.D. (UAB)
Vickery, Minako, Instructor of Biology, 2022, B.S. M.S. (Osaka), Ph.D. (UAB), Microbiology education, pre-health mentoring
Younger, Jarred W., Professor of Psychology, 2014, B.A. (Maryville), Ph.D. (Tennessee)