Peace Studies & Psychology

Phd Psych

How and why does political violence affect individuals, especially young people? What are the implications for the continuation or mitigation of violent conflict?

The Peace Studies and Psychology doctoral program at the University of Notre Dame equips students with the theoretical lens and methodological tools of psychology to answer these and related questions. The integration of interdisciplinary peace research methods ensures practical applications for policymakers and for individuals in war, violent conflict, and post-war settings.

The dual degree program focuses on how people are affected by violence and how resilient individuals can serve as models for and active agents of change at the individual, community, and societal level. Students in the program study how exposure to intergroup threats affects mental health, aggressive behaviors, and delinquent acts; explore the constructive role that young people and practitioners can play in reconstructing communities in the wake of violence; and focus on the role of the family and community in youth development.

Research incorporates multiple methods within and across projects, including qualitative and quantitative methods. Students learn leading methodological techniques for analyzing longitudinal and multilevel data and have access to advanced statistical training. At the same time, in conducting research, Ph.D. students engage with global networks that connect them to the real-life problems faced by children, families, and communities around the world.

Faculty with active research programs in developmental and clinical psychology may provide training and mentoring to Ph.D. students. For students applying to the joint program in Peace Studies and Psychology, a primary research adviser in the Department of Psychology should be indicated by name in the application, in addition to a brief articulation of the research fit between the adviser and potential advisee and a discussion of how the students’ research in the department with psychology will be consistent with the goals and interdisciplinary nature of peace studies. Students are encouraged to explore the faculty research pages at to determine which mentor and research lab provide the best fit for their research interests in the joint program. Because not all research labs consider new student applications every year, we encourage students to reach out to specific advisers of interest to determine if they are willing to consider an application for admission via the joint program.

Faculty Contact: Laura Miller-Graff, Assistant Professor of Psychology & Peace Studies

Student & Alumni Testimonials

“I love having two cohorts of fellow students — one in peace studies and one in psychology. Having discussions inside and outside the classroom with people who approach problems so differently has been incredibly enriching.”
 — Marie Lance, Ph.D. student in peace studies & psychology

"I’ve benefited from learning the traditional research methods of psychology, but also from taking peace studies courses with students in anthropology, theology, sociology, political science and anthropology. Learning about the tools and methods of other disciplines has led me to generate more creative questions."
 — Dana Townsend, Ph.D. student in peace studies & psychology