Department of Psychology

University of Mississippi

Overview of the Experimental Program

Dr. Mathew Reysen
Director of Experimental Training

The Department of Psychology at The University of Mississippi offers programs of study that lead to the Doctor of Philosophy in two separate areas: clinical psychology and experimental psychology. The Experimental Program is designed to be completed within four years. This time is devoted to a combination of course work and research.

Specific programs of study in the Experimental Program include behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology (including cognitive developmental), and social psychology. Students are accepted to work in one of these specific areas.

The Experimental program does not accept students seeking a terminal Masters degree. Students in the Ph.D. program do earn the Master of Arts and complete a Master’s thesis as part of their degree requirements. Students entering with a Masters degree involving a data based thesis are not typically asked to complete another thesis. All students must take and pass comprehensive examinations before full admission to Ph.D. candidacy is granted and the dissertation can be started.

Experimental Ph.D. Program

The Graduate Program in Experimental Psychology provides the rigorous and supportive scientific training that prepares graduates for outstanding careers in a broad spectrum of established and emerging fields from corporate careers in health sciences, research/medical administration, or drug development to academic careers in teaching and research. Specific programs of study leading to the doctoral degree include behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology (including cognitive developmental), and social psychology. Admission to the program is limited to approximately four to six new students each year to ensure every student a close apprentice relationship with a major professor for mentorship in research, teaching, and career development. The core curriculum of study is coupled with an individualized plan of elective courses, research experiences, which include the thesis and dissertation projects, and teaching assignments that the student and major professor select as appropriate to the student’s objectives.

Faculty mentors involve students in research activity early in their training and guide their development in the classroom both as students and as instructors. Thus, breadth of knowledge within the discipline, broad-based methodological, statistical, and technical expertise, and pedagogical training and mentorship in classroom and laboratory settings are the fundamental elements of the training program in experimental psychology. With such training, doctoral graduates obtain positions in academia, industry, or government service. Recent graduates of the Experimental Program have secured initial appointments as assistant professors at institutions such as Hobart and William Smith Colleges and William Penn University, as postdoctoral fellows at universities such as Boston University School of Medicine and Roskamp Institute for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases (Tampa, Florida), and as business/industry analysts at corporations such as American Express.

Behavioral Neuroscience

Students in this area of concentration can take courses and seminars in neuroscience methods, neurobiology, psychopharmacology, pharmacology, toxicology, and biostatistics. State-of-the-art research experiences are offered in the study of the behavioral effects of psychotherapeutic and abused drugs, neurochemical analysis of monoamines using in vivo dialysis, striatal and hippocampal behavioral function using stereotaxic techniques, and evaluation of neural tissue through histological techniques.

Cognitive Psychology

Students in this area of concentration can take courses and seminars covering topics in cognitive science. Students will also be trained in psychophysical and statistical methods. Research experiences are offered in three primary areas. One of these involves early visual processing including motion perception, visual texture perception, and the
perception of color. Another involves research in human memory with an emphasis on the manner in which processing information in a social context affects subsequent recollections. Research experiences in cognitive development are offered in the area of preschoolers’ and school-aged children’s understanding of mental states and mental processes. In collaboration with their mentors, students are encouraged to pursue their own research interests within these areas of focus.

Social Psychology

Social psychologists study behavior that occurs in the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others. The social psychology area of study offers an experimental emphasis. Students take courses and seminars in social psychological theory, emotion theory, and advanced statistical methods, and they are trained to use experimental methods in the laboratory. Research experiences are offered in the areas of emotional expression (e.g.,
facial and verbal expression of emotion), cognitive consequences of emotion, self-regulation of emotion, individual differences in the experience of emotion, and emotional intelligence.


Admission to any graduate program at the University requires that a student be accepted by both the graduate school and an academic department. A SINGLE APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL. We have included a checklist at the end of this document to help you submit all materials correctly and on time. All materials, including GRE scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation MUST be received by December 1 in order for an application to be considered for admission.

Admission decisions are initially made by the department faculty and forwarded to the dean of the graduate school for final approval. Only applicants for full-time enrollment toward the Ph.D. are considered for admission. Students wishing part-time enrollment or a terminal master’s degree are not eligible for admission. We review applications only once each year for admission the following August.

Admission Information Specific to the Experimental Program
Admission to the Experimental Program requires submission of all application materials by December 1. The experimental faculty reviews applications in February for enrollment the following fall semester. Applications for this program received after December 1 are considered for fall enrollment only if slots have not been filled. Typically, the Experimental Program accepts four to six new students each year. Each accepted student must have identified a faculty mentor whose research interests match the student’s training goals. This faculty member will serve as the student’s major professor.

For Admission to All Graduate Programs

The application procedure for all applicants consists of the following:
Please submit to the Graduate School On-line: Graduate School Application, Official Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) official score reports (advanced psychology test IS NOT required). Three letters of recommendation (forwarded online directly from the recommenders), and $50.00 application fee.
Please provide ample details regarding your interests, research activities, career goals, and relevant experiences. Copies of research papers (publications, convention presentations, senior thesis) are welcome. Make certain all materials are received before December 1. Start the application process early because GRE scores and transcripts often take much longer than you expect to reach us.

Graduate Psychology Courses

505. Conditioning and Learning (3)
506. Human Learning and Cognition (3)
510. Human Physiological Recording in Research and Practice (3)
511. Neural Basis of Learning and Memory (3)
519. Group Dynamics (3)
530. Single Subject and Small Group Research Design (3)
531. Sensation and Perception (3)
532. Attention and Consciousness (3)
541, 543. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disorders I, II (3, 3)
553. Theories of Learning (3)
561. Cross-Cultural Training (3)
599. Clinical Staffing (1)
701. Seminar (3)
703, 704 Quantitative Methods in Psychology (3, 3)
705. Advanced Statistics (3)
706. Method and Theory in Program Evaluation (3)
707. Cognitive Psychology
709. Behavior Modification (3)
710, 711. Psychological Assessment (3, 3)
712. Social Psychology (3)
714. Behavior Therapy (3)
715. Physiological Psychology (3)
716. Psychopharmacology (3)
717. Individual Experimental Research (1-3)
718. Advanced Developmental Psychology (3)
719. Tests and Measurements (3)
721. Seminar (1-3)
722, 723. Clinical Practicum (3, 3)
724, 725. Clinical Practicum (3, 3)
726, 728. Clinical Practicum (3, 3)
727. Theories of Personality (3)
729. Advanced Abnormal Psychology (3)
731. Theories of Psychotherapy (3)
733. Behavior Problems in Children (3)
737. Seminar in Clinical Psychology (3-6)
741. Issues and Ethics in Human Research and Professional Psychology (3)
747. Problems in Psychology (1-3)
748. Research Methods
751. History and Systems of Psychology (3)
755. Psychology Colloquium (1)
797. Thesis (1-12)
797. Dissertation (1-18)
798. Clinical Psychology Internship (1-3)

In recent years, seminars (721) have been offered in behavioral marital therapy, child assessment and intervention, clinical and experimental research design, emotion theory, group therapy, mental health administration, neuropsychological assessment, neuropsychology, neuroscience methods, psychology and law, psychology of aging,
service delivery to rural/minority populations, and teaching of psychology; clinical behavior analysis, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Logotherapy.

Faculty and Their Research Interests

Michael T. Allen, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1982. Cardiovascular reactivity and stress, electrophysiology. (Experimental)

Lee M. Cohen, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University, 1999. Health Psychology, Tobacco use disorder/smoking cessation (Clinical).

Laura J. Dixon, Ph.D., University of Wyoming, 2014. Anxiety disorders, transdiagnostic vulnerability factors (e.g., anxiety sensitivity, distress tolerance) affecting anxiety and health-related conditions across the lifespan, exposure therapy. (Clinical)

Gary Glick, Ph.D., University of Missouri, 2014. Peer Relationships (e.g., romantic relationships, friendships) in adolescence and the transition to adulthood, social and communication skills, conflict in social relationships, emotional well-being, sexual health. (Experimental)

Alan M. Gross, Ph.D., Washington State University, 1979. Internalizing and externalizing disorders in children, dating violence. (Clinical)

Scott A. Gustafson, Ph.D., University of Mississippi, 1996. Clinical psychophysiology, brain computer interfaces, neuroplasticity related to classical and opera conditioning, clinical training, and program development. (Director, Psychological Services Center)

Laura R. Johnson, Ph.D., University of Louisville, 2003. Cross-cultural psychology and program evaluation (environmental education and service learning programs for youth). (Clinical)

Elicia C. Lair, PhD., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2014, Social cognition, specializing in information processing styles and affect (including discrete emotions). Political psychology, with a focus on candidate evaluation processes. (Experimental)

Danielle Maack, PhD., University of Wyoming, 2010. Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Individual differences in psychopathology, disgust, emetophobia. (Clinical)

Marilyn Mendolia, Ph.D., Dartmouth College, 1990. Experimental social psychology, verbal and facial expression of emotion, and self-regulation of emotion. (Experimental)

Stephanie Miller, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2012. Early cognitive development, executive function, social cognition, communication, language, and memory. (Experimental)

Nicolaas Prins, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1999. Early visual processing and psychophysical methods. (Experimental)

Matthew B. Reysen, Ph.D., Purdue University, 2004, Human memory, particularly recall and recognition performance within a social context. Application of evolutionary theory to the study of human memory. (Experimental)

Karen E. Sabol, Ph.D., Emory University, 1988. Behavioral neuroscience, acute and chronic effects of methamphetamine on behavior and neurochemistry, and behavioral functions of the striatum. (Experimental)

Stefan E. Schulenberg, Ph.D., University of South Dakota, 2001. Computer use in psychological assessment and psychotherapy, psychological test construction, adolescent psychopathology and assessment, empirical validation of meaning-related constructs, and clinical/disaster psychology. (Clinical)

Rebekah E. Smith, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1999. Memory, including prospective memory, false memory, and the effects of distinctive processing on memory, cognitive aging, and multinomial modeling. (Experimental)

Todd A. Smitherman, Ph.D., Auburn University, 2006. Adult anxiety disorders, headache and chronic pain, behavioral medicine and health psychology. (Clinical)

Kenneth J. Sufka, Ph.D., Iowa State University, 1990. Behavioral neuroscience, pain and analgesia, animal modeling in psychopharmacology, drug discovery, and philosophy of mind. (Experimental)

Kelly G. Wilson, Ph.D., University of Nevada, 1998. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the role of verbal processes in emotion and cognition, contextual-behavioral analyses of existential issues, treatment development and dissemination, integration of basic and applied research, and philosophy of science. (Clinical)

John Young, Ph.D., University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008. Evidence-based services for children and adolescents, treatment dissemination, mental health care systems, clinical supervision. (Clinical)

If you have access to the World Wide Web, you can get more information about the University, the Psychology Department, and our faculty from our home page at


The Department of Psychology is housed in the George Peabody Building. Classrooms, research laboratories, office space, and other facilities occupy 215,000 square feet of floor space. Graduate student offices, the clinical suite, student-faculty lounge, faculty offices, and research space are located on the third floor. The departmental administrative and academic offices, the Psychological Assessment Laboratory, seminar rooms, and classrooms are located on the second floor. The ground floor contains several experimental psychology laboratories, vivaria, an instructional laboratory, computer lab, and offices.

The Psychological Services Center (PSC), located in Kinnard Hall, is a 3,500 square foot independent community mental health facility operated by the Clinical Program of the department. The clinic houses a front office/waiting area, director’s office, file room, two graduate assistant offices, a large room suitable for conferences or for family or group therapy, and three rooms suitable for individual or couples therapy, one of which is set up for child treatment. All therapy rooms are set up for both video recording and direct viewing through two-way mirrors. The purpose of the PSC is twofold: to provide psychological services to the community and the University, and to serve as a training
facility for graduate students in the Clinical Program.

In addition to the approximately 130 different tests and measurement instruments housed in our clinical test library, the Psychological Assessment Laboratory maintains computer equipment used to administer, score, and interpret a number of psychological tests for both clinical and research applications, including: the MMPI-2, MMPI-A, SCL-90, MCMI-III, CBCL, CPT, and HRNTB. This facility also provides word processing and printing support for students who serve as examiners for the Psychological Assessment Clinic; students in the Psychological Assessment Laboratory analyze their research data with SPSS.

The department has video cameras, and video recorders and monitors for digital recording.

The Psychophysiology Laboratory is equipped with a Coulbourn Instruments polygraph which allows for the collection of a number of physiological signals. Signals are digitized and displayed on computer monitors using a Dataq 12-bit analogue-to-digital board and Windaq data acquisition and analysis software. Other instruments in the lab include a Suntech Tango exercise blood pressure monitor and Body Media body activity monitors. The Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory, located in the Thad Cochran Research Center, is equipped to study drug effects on behavior and to examine brain-behavior relationships. This equipment includes place preference chambers, mechanical and thermal analgesiometers, plethysmometer, rodent observation chambers, avian observation chambers, an HPLC apparatus set up for in vivo dialysis, a four-track motorized treadmill, four operant chambers for the study of reaction times, and a number of rodent mazes. For small-animal surgery and histological examination of neural tissue, this laboratory is equipped with a stereotaxic instrument, various surgical instruments, an infusion pump, a freezing stage microtome, a temperature-controlled fluid bath, and high- and low-power microscopes. The Psychology Department maintains a rodent colony room for teaching.

The Cognitive Psychology Vision Laboratory is equipped with a state-of-the-art graphics card (including an autonomous processor, separate from the host PC’s CPU) providing high-resolution luminance and color control. This graphics card can be used to drive either a high-resolution chromatic monitor or a high-resolution, fast-phosphor (DP104) monitor, which in conjunction with ferroelectric liquid crystal shutters allows presentation of high-quality, alternating-frame stereoscopic images. A colorimeter allows precise calibration of the colors and luminances of the visual display. The Memory Laboratory consists of three personal computers situated in adjacent cubicles. The computers are used primarily to present stimuli and record participant responses – often with intent to deceive participants into thinking that they are working with others when they are actually working alone. Students doing research in cognitive development have access to several comfortable observation rooms in which to conduct one-on-one interviews and observations with children.

The Personality and Social Psychology Laboratory is equipment with 8 computers, and with programming software with which to design experiments to be conducted on computer and to assist in administering questionnaires. Each computer is equipped with headphones, which can be used to present emotional sounds, stories, or instructions. The computer stations can be separated by screens and curtains because researchers investigating emotion often need to give the participant some privacy, or may wish to control social context variables. The lab is also equipped with a digital video camera for recording sessions or participants, or for creating experimental stimuli. Research in the area of human emotion sometimes requires that emotional responses be measured in a variety of ways.

In the well-equipped Experimental Social Psychology Laboratory, students can record physiological activity, facial and verbal expression of emotion, self-report measures, and cognitive responses to computer-generated stimuli. Each of two observation rooms is equipped with video equipment, which unobtrusively monitors participants’ facial activity and verbal reactions to emotion-eliciting stimuli. The control room contains computer-networked physiological instrumentation to monitor participants’ cardiovascular responses (electrocardiography, impedance cardiography, phonocardiography, and photoplethysmography), skin conductance, and muscle activity (raw or rectified electromyography). Analog and digital video instrumentation and software (recorder/players, mixer, editing controller, and professional quality video/audio capture card) are used to collect and edit participant-generated recordings and stimulus materials.

The University Computer Center provides users with two supercomputers, Amdahl 470 V/8 and 470 V/6 mainframes; a microcomputer laboratory; a graphics laboratory; and an extensive WIDJET system for instructional use. One of the mainframes runs time-sharing under CMS and provides the research community with the usual array of applications software packages (SPSS, BMDP, SAS). SAS Graph enables students to produce high quality graphics for manuscripts and poster presentations.

Other facilities both on and off campus are available for research support. The new physical education complex contains metabolic and exercise labs that are available for collaborative use. The physicians at the student health service and the pharmacology faculty have provided consultation for several recent Psychology Department projects. Staff at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi have supplied computerized pulmonary function testing, and several recent research projects have been conducted at the following locations: Oxford Elementary School, North Mississippi Regional Center, Parkwood Hospital, Lafayette Elementary School, Lafayette High School, Bramlett Elementary School, and DeSoto County School System.

Financial Assistance

Tuition and fee information is available in the Fees and Expenses section of the Graduate School Catalog for the current year. You should request a copy of this directly from the Graduate School if you have not received one. According to the 2016-2017 catalog, costs are $408 per semester hour for Mississippi residents and about $1143 per semester hour for students who are residents of other states or countries. Exact amounts will vary with the number of credit hours enrolled. These numbers are provided here only to give students a general sense of the cost of graduate education at The University of Mississippi. Check the current catalog for specific amounts and the current charges.

Financial aid is available from several sources. The department has a number of research and teaching assistantships that are awarded to graduate students on a competitive basis. Awards are made early each summer for the upcoming academic year. Students receiving these assistantships are required to work 10-20 hours each week and are limited to a course load of 12 hours per semester. The work may involve assisting faculty members in
teaching or research, or assuming full responsibility for an undergraduate course. Clinical students beyond the first year are eligible for applied placements at: North Mississippi Regional Center; Baptist Children’s Villages; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; Baddour Center; UM Student Counseling Center; Tupelo Autism Center, and Communicare community mental health centers. These positions require 10-20 hours each week.

The Graduate School awards several honors fellowships to new psychology students each year and provides minority fellowships to students who are members of ethnic minority groups. Awards are made on the basis of departmental recommendations, and the Psychology Department automatically recommends all eligible students for these awards when making recommendations regarding admissions.

Out-of-state students holding fellowships and/or assistantships that total at least $600 per semester will be charged tuition and fees at the in-state rates. Any student who receives at least $5000 in assistantship and/or fellowship support will be eligible for a partial tuition scholarship.

Other forms of financial aid such as student loans and college work-study are handled by the Office of Financial Aid. If you have questions about these other sources of funding, you are encouraged to contact that office for further information and the required application forms (662-915-7175 or 800-OLE MISS, toll-free in Mississippi).

For the past several years, the department has been able to provide funding for all students who applied and who were in their first three years of training at a level that would qualify them for tuition scholarships. Although funding is not secure enough to guarantee this will continue, no changes are expected in the immediate future.

For Further Information
Departmental Admissions Coordinator
Department of Psychology
The University of Mississippi

P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677-1848
Telephone: (662) 915-7383
Or check out our Experimental Psychology home page.