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Department of Psychology


Approaching postgraduate study can be daunting. Here is a selection of frequently asked questions, which should help you plan your application and your study.



Q. Should I get in contact with a potential supervisor before I submit my application?

Yes. Prospective PhD and MPhil students must identify a potential supervisor. Go to the Research page to browse our major research themes. Prospective MPhil in Psychology and PhD students should browse our list of potential MPhil supervisors, potential PhD supervisors and list of available PhD projects.

Q. If my prospective supervisor tells me that they would like to work with me and encourages me to make an application, does this mean that I will automatically get a place on the course?

No. All applications are considered by the Admissions Committee of the Postgraduate Education Committee, who rank the applications and nominate the strongest ones for funding. Supervisors have only a limited number of places each year, and these will be offered to the strongest applicants.

Q. What if my first language is not English?

You must pass an English test in order to be eligible. This is to ensure that you have the skills to succeed in your course. Specific details are available from the Postgraduate Admissions website.


Q. How long will it take before I hear about the outcome of my application?

There is a significant amount of processing that has to take place before a decision about eligibility can be made. Applications have to be academically assessed within the Department.

If you have applied before the December funding round deadline you will receive a decision on your application in February. If you apply after the December funding deadline, you should expect to hear whether or not you have been successful within six weeks of submitting your completed application and required supporting documents.

Q. What are some of the reasons why my application would be declined?

The department is unable to respond to specific requests for explanations regarding declined applications. A few possible reasons for declining applications are listed below:

  • Based on your research proposal the department cannot provide you with appropriate academic support.
  • Your academic record and/or work experience does not indicate your suitability for a PhD at Cambridge.

Q. Is there a danger that I won't be accepted at a college?

No. It is possible that the colleges that you list as preferences will not have any available places, however, there are plenty of places across the 31 colleges for all successful applicants.

Q. How many available places are there on each programme?

There is no fixed limit on numbers admitted.

Q. Can I defer admission if I can't take up my place in the year that I apply?

No, unfortunately not. The University does not offer a deferment option. If you wish to be considered for admission in a future academic year, you must make another application.

Q. Do I need to provide GRE test results or other test results?

No. The only additional materials required are a research proposal, two academic references (a personal reference if you would like to be considered for Gates funding), and transcripts. If your first language is not English, you need to provide IELTS or TOEFL scores.

Q. Do you offer a conversion course?

No. You must have an academic background relevant to Psychology research.

Q. I have been admitted, but haven't heard anything from the University funding bodies?

You will receive news regarding scholarships directly from the funding bodies themselves. The department does not receive any notice regarding the results of your scholarship applications before you do, so we cannot provide you with the results of your applications before you receive them yourself.

Q. Do you accept part-time PhD study?

Yes, part-time PhD study is available. You are advised to discuss whether part-time study would be appropriate with your potential supervisor. As for full-time students, each case is considered on its merits and requires an interview with the potential supevisor.

Q. Can I defer entry to the PhD or MPhil in Psychology to Lent or Easter terms?

Yes, if there are good grounds to do this – some funding agencies don’t make their awards until after 31 July for example, or academic transcripts might be available too late for conditions of an offer to be met in time. If you think that you might need to do this, please contact the Postgraduate Administrator to discuss your circumstances.

Q. Can I apply to start the PhD or MPhil in Psychology in January or April rather than October?

This is not generally encouraged as it excludes applicants from competing for University funding and attending the induction events at the beginning of the academic year.

However, in extreme circumstances, the Department may be willing to consider such applications. Please contact the Postgraduate Administrator IN ADVANCE of submitting your application to discuss your options.

Q. What should be incuded in my statement of interest?

Your statement should describe why you want to do this degree, talking about your skills and experience, and your specific academic interests. Discuss why the course, Department and University you're applying to are particularly suitable for meeting your career objectives.

Q. Can I propose research that will be undertaken elsewhere?

If your proposed research will require you to work away from Cambridge for more than 3 weeks (e.g., fieldwork overseas), please let the Postgraduate Office know straight away, as Degree Committee approvals will be required before you can be offered a place or considered for funding.

Funding Round Deadline
Gates Cambridge (USA) Wednesday 11 October 2023
All other funding rounds Tuesday 5 December 2023

The Department will continue to accept applications up until Wednesday 24 April 2024 for October 2024 start date. 

Any application submitted after 5 December 2023 will not be considered for the funding round.


Research Councils​

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