New York University

Department of Applied Psychology

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Psychology and Social Intervention

Degrees Offered: Master's (Terminal), Doctorate

Concentrations: Individually tailored to each student's interests.


At A Glance

Full-time Faculty: 30+

Full-time Faculty Identifying as Community Psychologists: 6

# of Students Admitted Each Year: 3

Available Student Assistantships: Fellowships & Research Assistantships

The Program 

Program Alumni Information

The mission of the doctoral training program in Psychology and Social Intervention in the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development is to train social scientists prepared to work in a variety of settings to understand the experiences of people in the contexts and systems in which they develop across the lifespan and transform and improve these contexts and systems. Graduates from the program are typically employed in education, research and evaluations firms (e.g., Mathematica, MDRC), and/or the nonprofit sector. 


Training in PSI is actively interdisciplinary, drawing on theories and approaches from across the field of psychology (including developmental, community and social psychology), as well as other social and behavioral sciences to inform an understanding of and - response to - social problems. The PSI program places a strong emphasis on:

  • Rigorous conceptualization and assessment of individual cognitive and psychosocial development and the social settings, systems, and policies in which individuals are embedded;  
  • Understanding the psychological impact of various forms of diversity, conflict, and structural inequality among individuals, groups, institutions, communities, and societies; and 
  • Creating, improving, implementing and evaluating prevention and intervention strategies toward positive social change. 

Ours is a research-intensive program, with a strong quantitative training component and appreciation of qualitative and mixed-methods techniques. Students engage in coursework, complete program milestones, and work collaboratively with faculty mentors on a range of activities in these research areas, including study design, data collection and analysis, manuscript preparation, conference presentations, policy briefs, evaluation activities and fundraising. Our curriculum and training structure is developed to foster a set of overarching professional development goals and specific training objectives.

The overarching goals of training in the PSI program are to promote students’ capacity to:

  • Build content knowledge base to understand and improve human development in social context.
  • Develop methodological skills that enable the effective assessment of and analysis of change over time and within and across levels of human ecology. 
  • Acquire abilities to apply psychological and social science principles to the understanding of social settings, social/cultural/economic contexts, and psychological, social and policy interventions. 
  • Attain abilities to conceptualize, interpret, evaluate and disseminate evidence-based psychological, social and policy interventions; and 
  • Develop the ethical, interpersonal, organizational and technical capacities to undertake high-quality professional work in psychology and social intervention.

The Community Psychology Faculty and Research Interests

Faculty are committed to understanding the experiences of people in the contexts and systems in which they develop across the lifespan. Here, understanding the role of poverty, inequality and culture are central. With these underpinnings, faculty are dedicated to transforming and improving contexts and systems to both enhance well-being and prevent adverse consequences in national as well as international contexts.

PSI faculty study a wide range of contexts and systems (e.g., families, schools, neighborhoods, programs, juvenile justice systems, intergroup contexts, policy contexts and macro-level economic and social structures) and interventions (e.g., psychological, social, educational and health programs and policies), locally, nationally and internationally. Our faculty also conduct research on how social psychological factors, cultural identities, and marginalization influence and interact with people’s experiences of contexts, systems and interventions. Our New York City location provides an ideal urban setting for studying many kinds of communities, combined with gateways to the world at large. PSI faculty collaborate closely with one another, as well as with other social, behavioral, health and policy scientists at NYU and other universities, and with service, community and policy organizations. PSI faculty direct or co-direct a number of affiliated institutes and centers at NYU, including the Institute for Human Development and Social Change, Global TIES for Children, the Child and Family Policy Center, and the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education.