I have a background of psychology and have been offered a PhD which will investigate an area in psychology (with aspects of computing). Although the PhD will be investigating psychology, it is offered and funded by the computing department, so is technically not a ‘psychology PhD’ but rather a PhD in computing sciences which investigates psychology (I will be taught the computing aspects I need to know).

Will this impair my future applications to doctorate roles/psychology jobs requiring PhD’s? Will they not care which department it is offered through, as long as my research in in psychology (which my thesis will be)? as my final certificate will say computing I believe.

4 Answers 4


In general, nobody in academia cares too much about what is written on your degree certificate; you will be defined by your research output rather than an arbitrary university administrative decision. However:

  • Your departmental affiliation may impact your exposure to the field more broadly: the seminars, networking opportunities, friendships and conversations that you find in a computing department will be different from those that you would receive in a psychology department. This may well influence the shape of your future career.

  • If your PhD programme has requirements other than the thesis (e.g. taught courses) these will probably have a different slant depending on your departmental affiliation.

  • Depending on your background and personality, you may find it harder to integrate into a computing department than a psychology department: coffee-time conversations and social activities may be less aligned to your interests. This depends hugely on the shape and culture of your department: will you be the one psychologist in a sea of compiler-design nerds, or are people drawn from a wide range of interdisciplinary backgrounds?

  • Often, opportunities to get involved in teaching are organised at departmental level, so you may find it difficult to gain psychology teaching experience from within a computing department. Indeed, if you are coming from a non-CS background you may find it difficult to get involved in teaching at all. Depending on your future career goals, this may (or may not) weaken your CV.

Most of these potential issues can be mitigated by making a deliberate effort to engage with the psychology community outside your immediate department.


Depending on which country you plan to work later on, it may have a huge impact. In some countries (i.e. Italy) you have to obtain an habilitation to apply for a professorship, and habilitation are linked to certain "knowledge areas" and the requirements are different for different "knowledge areas".

It may end up in the absurd situations that your PhD formally-in-topic-A is not recognized to become a professor in area-B-where you have all your publications.

However, knowing which countries will have opportunities for you it is so far down the road, and knowing that getting a professorship is so unlikely even knowing exactly which 10 countries you aim to look for one makes the discussion pretty useless, unless you have a specific country in mind.


technically not a ‘psychology PhD’ but rather a PhD in computing sciences

Yes, technically. Realistically it's a (smooth) blend.

Will this impair my future applications to doctorate roles/psychology jobs requiring PhD’s

Ideally, shouldn't.
However, this might depend on which sub-field you want to narrow to.

Psychology and computing have a long history; symbiotic relationship in a way. The interrelationship goes for decades; kind of a century.
Crisscrossing or cross-carpeting seems natural; more like a norm, especially where they interface.

One area is cognitive which has shaped theories in computing (and information systems). Psychology has been used in CSCW/HCI, education technology, cybersecurity (notably human-aspect, cyber-skill/use); neuroscience, NLP/LLM/AI are not left behind.

The close-knit comes to fore in joint-degrees, for instance UCC, Ireland and Yale psychology and computing degree program.

HCI (Human-computer interaction) is essentially a study at "the region of intersection between psychology and the social sciences, on the one hand, and computer science and technology, on the other" (Carroll, 1997)

Ref: Carroll, J. M. (1997). Human-computer interaction: psychology as a science of design. Annual review of psychology, 48(1), 61-83.

Sample application:
Mayer, R. E. (1981). The psychology of how novices learn computer programming. ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR), 13(1), 121-141
Young, K. S. (1996). Psychology of computer use: XL. Addictive use of the Internet: a case that breaks the stereotype. Psychological reports, 79(3), 899-902


Several good answers already. Let me add two things. My PhD is in psychometrics, given by a psychology department, but I spent my working career as a statistician. No one ever cared that my degree was in the "wrong" field.

Second, you ask

Will this impair my future applications to doctorate roles/psychology jobs requiring PhD’s

but you don't say which jobs! If you are talking about posts as a professor in a psychology department, then knowledge of computing may make you very popular.

If you want to work in areas other than academia then it could be more of a problem. (PhD s in psychology work in lots of different kinds of jobs).

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