PhD Course

Psychological Sciences

Thematic area Life Sciences
Duration 3 years
Language English
PhD Programme Coordinator Lucia Regolin

The course is aimed at training high-level researchers in psychological sciences providing a solid methodological approach as well as strong scientific know-how which can be used in both basic and applied research.

  Find out more

The 3-year program is designed for students holding an MS. The advisor of Doctoral students can be one of the approximately 60 faculty members who are experienced researchers in different areas of psychology using a large set of labs with different state-of-art equipment. Each student defines the main area of research early on, in agreement with his/her advisor and the experimental work is carried on starting from the first year. During the three-year program, students are required to spend a period in a foreign University or Research Center, working under the supervision of an external advisor for a minimum period of 3 months to a maximum period of 12 months. Padova University and the Departments involved in the program strongly support the mobility of the students providing them money for attending meetings, conferences, or summer/winter schools.

The overarching goal of the PhD program is to train high-level researchers in psychological sciences, by promoting a scientific top-notch, evidence-based, approach. PhD students will be trained to work effectively as researchers, college and university instructors, and to become professional research psychologists in basic science and applied domains. The program is centered on providing general skills that can be applied across diverse fields of research with particular emphasis on Clinical and experimental psychology, Human life-span development, Neuropsychology and cognitive psychology, Social, cultural and group psychology, Neuroimaging and computational neuroscience, Evolution of mind and cognitive functions, Language and psycholinguistics, Consumer choice & behavioural economics, Dynamical psychology, Mathematical psychology and statistical applications to psychology.

Methodological courses are aimed at providing students with state-of-art knowledge about models suited for the analyses of complex behaviors (e.g., Bayesian models, linear models, log-linear models, mixed effect models with random factors, multiple regression, exploratory factor analysis, structural equation models), as well as on how to handle and to analyze complex signals (e.g., brain activity). Programming courses focus on specific software needed to acquire data and conduct statistical analyses (e.g., MATLAB, R). Practical and soft skills courses focus on developing strategies for effective presentation of scientific data, and on learning how to plan research programs, how to write scientific articles and grant proposals, and how to review others' scientific work. Discussion on the ethics of research in psychology is also promoted.

Interdisciplinarity between the different domains and approaches in psychological research is strongly supported. The limited number of candidates and the large number of academic scholars involved in the program ensures that each student can receive a continuous and focused attention to the development of an individualized curriculum in which more than one supervisor is involved.
As concerns the job market, the aim of the course is to train students in order to enable them to compete and successfully handle the current societal challenges in the academic and applied domains at both the national and international level. In particular, at the end of the course, our PhD candidates will be able to plan, program and carry out all research activities in an autonomous fashion within a rigorous, in-deep, and open-minded scientific perspective.

Our PhD course potentially trains a wide range of professional roles. Some of these roles are already fully recognized within the European job market. It is very likely that other roles will be more and more relevant in future years due to recent events which have a relevant impact in our lives (e.g., COVID pandemic, war in Ukraine).
For instance, our PhD program has trained experts in the following areas:

  • Methodology in the social sciences
  • Data analysis
  • Cognitive (neuro)psychology and neuroscience
  • Social cognition and psychology of stereotypes and prejudice
  • Behavioural economics
  • Psychology of typical and atypical development
  • Social ergonomics
  • Cultural differences and cultural mediation
  • Demoscopic studies
  • Clinical assessment and intervention
  • Aging and well being

As concerns the temporal development of the course, doctoral students are also expected to participate in the following activities:

1st year: Doctoral students have to start to develop their research project and follow some basic courses in methodology, statistics, programming and other practical skills. All courses are taught in English language and are specifically tailored for PhD students (i.e., they are not courses for undergradiate students). At the end of each year, doctoral students have to discuss their theoretical area of research and the general content of their research project in front of a committee of faculty members.

2nd year: Students are expected to have a research training in an international research center or university outside of Italy. Institutions are selected on the basis of the individual interests and career objectives of each student.

3rd year: Preparation of the Ph.D. Thesis in either Italian or English language. At the end of the 3rd year, doctoral students have to present their work at the "School Lunch" meetings. Two months before the end of the program the thesis should be sent to two external reviewers for admission to the Defence. The reviewers are Italian or foreign researchers selected ad-hoc for each student. At the end of the program, students, in groups of two-four, will defend their thesis in front of an external committee.
Organization of Classes across the three years and other activities

Classes have to main general objectives:

1) Provide advanced knowledge in disciplines common to different research approaches and provide students with the main research and methodological skills, as well as soft skills.
2) Expose students to several research areas, presenting them the new trends in the different domains of the Psychological Sciences and promoting interdisciplinarity in the approaches and methods.

Students have to attend to some mandatory classes (about 90 hrs in total). It is highly recommended that students attend to mandatory courses during their first year. Derogations must be discussed with both the Coordinator and the Supervisor. Students can also choose among a large set of optional classes in order to deepen their knowledge in specific domains from both a theoretical and practical perspective. These classes can be attended during the three years, but students are suggested to attend to these courses during the first year of the PhD program. Timetables for the courses are always organized so that time overlappings are prevented. Students are invited to attend a weekly appointment on Thursday from 1 to 2 pm which could be in the form of either a School Lunch or a School Meeting.
School Lunch series. Students at the third year of the PhD program present their work to the academic staff. The series is open to all members of the Psychological Departments.
School Meeting series. Members of the academic staff or other visiting scholars report to students regarding the new trends and the hot topics in Psychological Science.