The doctoral program in psychology offers a rigorous educational experience leading to the PhD degree. The first four semesters of the program are designed to provide broad acquaintance with the substantive areas of the discipline, training in research skills, and introduction to the particular areas of emphasis offered in the program. During the last two years students will pursue specialized course work and training in one of three main emphasis areas: (1) Applied Social Psychology or (2) Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience or (3) Developmental Psychology, and a sub-specialty of Health Psychology. Students across the three epmhasis areas may elect to complete a cross-area emphasis in Health Psychology.
Applicants should designate one or more potential faculty mentors in their application. By the end of the first semester, all students will have submitted a Program of Study form with the selection of a chair and two other members, each having graduate faculty status, as their dissertation committee. They should begin course work and research in their selected emphasis area in consultation with the dissertation committee chair.
Psych PhD Second Year Project
Fall Semester of the First Year
The Second-Year Research Project Definition Form and a 250-word abstract of the project must be submitted to the three inside members of the dissertation committee (thesis committee for Clinical Psychology students) for approval no later than the last day of the Fall Semester. If this is not accomplished, the student will receive a Marginal rating for that semester.
Second Year: Completion and Presentation of the Project
Fall Semester of the Second Year
Submission of the Second-Year Project Manuscript to Chair. The second-year project will culminate in a written manuscript submitted no later than the last day of Fall Semester of the second year to the committee chair for review.
Winter Semester of the Second Year
Submission of the Second-Year Project Manuscript to Committee. The revised written manuscript will be submitted no later than the end of the first week of Winter Semester of the second year to the three inside members of the student’s dissertation committee (thesis committee for Clinical Psychology students). The manuscript will be submitted to the committee for review and recommendations for revision as determined by the committee. Their recommendations should be returned to the student no later than January 31st, so the student can begin work on the February poster presentation. No form is required for the manuscript submission at this time. If the manuscript is not submitted to the committee by the deadline, the student will receive a Marginal rating for Fall Semester.
(If the manuscript is not completed by the end of the student’s second winter semester, an Unsatisfactory for Winter Semester will be given, constituting the second consecutive less-than-satisfactory rating. Two consecutive less-than-satisfactory ratings will result in the student’s dismissal from the program. A petition for exception may be considered by Graduate Studies, but is granted only on rare occasions.)
If the student fails to meet the deadline, but submits the manuscript at a later point during the Winter Semester, the Committee’s review would then take place during the Spring Term – but the student’s presentation nevertheless would still occur during the Winter Semester.
Students will complete a comprehensive examination prior to the fall semester in their third year (i.e., prior to the 5th full semester in the program). The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to test the student’s knowledge of psychological science within multiple content areas. Accordingly, the comprehensive examination will consist of three items – one from the content area of Research Design & Analysis, one from the student’s area of specialization (Developmental, Applied Social, or Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience), and a third from one of the remaining areas (Developmental, Applied Social, or Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience) as selected by the student.
By the end of winter semester of the 2nd year (i.e., April in the 4th full semester in the program), the student will indicate to the comprehensive-examination committee the content areas to include in her or his exam. The committee will then provide the designated reading list for that exam. The list will be determined by the department comprehensive-examination committee in consultation with the student’s dissertation advisor and will include research articles, review articles, books, or book chapters on topics that appear in the Core courses of the program.
The exam will be administered on a pre-specified day in August prior to the beginning of fall semester. Students will respond to the exam items using computers in an onsite, proctored location. Students will be allowed to use one 8.5 by 11-inch paper (printed front and back) as reference material for the exam. Students will work strictly on their own, will not be allowed network access, and will be strongly cautioned not to plagiarize. Students will receive the exam in the morning and will have a predetermined period of time (e.g., 8 hrs) to complete it. Students may take periodic breaks during the exam. Within the first month (September) of the fall semester following the exam, the examination committee will grade the three exam items. Each will be graded Pass/Fail and the composite grade will be determined as follows:
- Three Pass grades: Pass
- One or two Fail grades: Required Remediation. The student who receives this grade must remediate the failed item(s) after receiving feedback from the committee and by meeting with his or her dissertation – committee chair, together with the committee member(s) who graded the failed item(s), to establish a remediation plan. It may include revised answers to the same items writing responses to new items, an oral defense of their original responses, or other options deemed appropriate by those in the meeting. The remediation plan must be completed by the end of fall semester. Failure to do so will require the student to retake an alternative comprehensive exam (see details below) during the following semester (i.e., the winter semester).
- Three Fail grades: Fail. The student must retake an alternative comprehensive examination the following semester (i.e., the winter semester).
Students who do not pass the August exam will receive a “marginal” evaluation for the fall semester. Those who are required to take the alternative comprehensive exam, must do so by the end of the following winter semester. A student who does not receive the Pass grade on the alternative exam will receive an ”unsatisfactory” evaluation for the winter term. Students may appeal that evaluation, first to the examination committee, and, if no resolution occurs, to the Department Chair, who will appoint an ad hoc committee of senior faculty to render a decision on the appeal.
Once students have completed the comprehensive examination and defended their dissertation prospectus, they will continue to PhD candidacy.
Requirements for Degree.
- Credit hours (55): Minimum 37 hours of course work plus 18 dissertation hours (799R).
- Required core courses (31 credit hours): B grade or better in Psych 501, 502, 504, 520, 550, 575, 585, 605R (4 semesters), Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R) (6 semesters), Advanced Topic (720R, 750R, or 785R).
- The required Advanced Seminar Classes for each emphasis area are: Psych 620R (Advanced Seminar in Developmental Psychology) for Developmental Psychology, Psych 650R (Advanced Seminar in Social Psychology) for Applied Social Psychology, and Psych 685R (Advanced Seminar in Behavioral Neurobiology) for Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences.
- The required Advanced Topic classes for each emphasis area are: Psych 720R (Advanced Topic in Developmental Psychology) for Developmental Psychology, Psych 750R (Advanced Topic in Social Psychology) for Applied Social Psychology, and Psych 785R (Advanced Topic in Behavioral Neurobiology) for Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences.
- Emphasis area requirements and electives (6 credit hours). The required classes for each emphasis area are: Psych 552 (Applied Social Psychology) for Applied Social Psychology, Psych 687R (Seminar in Psychopharmacology) for Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Psych 626 (Advanced Biological Basis of Development) for Developmental Psychology.
- Recommended sequence of program requirements:
- First Year: Fall – Psych 501, 550, 605R, Area Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 686R), 799R (1 credit); Winter - Psych 504, 585, 605R, Area Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R), 799R (2 credits); Spring - Psych 693 (taught annually only during spring term), Area Advanced Topic (720R, 750R, or 785R).
- Second Year: Fall – Psych 502, 575, 605R, Area Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R), required area emphasis course (552, 626, or 687R) or 1 elective, Winter - Psych 520, 605R, Area Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R), required area emphasis course (552, 626, or 687R) or 1 elective. Students are required to complete a second year project. Spring-Psych 799R (2 credits).
- Third Year: Fall-Area Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R), Psych 799R (1.5 credits); Winter – Area Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R), 799R (2 credits); Spring – Psych 799R (2 credits).Take any additional course work selected in consultation with the dissertation committee chair. Submit and defend a dissertation prospectus and begin dissertation research in consultation with the dissertation committee chair.
- Fourth Year: Fall – Psych 799R (2 credits); Winter – Psych 799R (2 credits); Spring – Psych 799R (2 credits).Complete any remaining courses, complete dissertation research, and author and defend the dissertation. Students must complete 18 hours of dissertation credit (Psych 799R) as part of the dissertation requirement.
Dissertation: By summer term in their fourth year, students should complete and defend a dissertation in their chosen emphasis area (including a manuscript suitable for submission for publication that is appended to the dissertation). All students should graduate no later than August of their fourth year in the program.
Cross-Area Health Psychology Emphasis Description
The BYU doctoral programs in psychology are pleased to offer a cross-area emphasis program to provide training in health psychology. Health psychology is a growing sub-specialty focused on understanding connections between psychological processes and physical health. Health psychologists conduct research and provide clinical care to promote optimal physical and mental health. The emphasis area represents a course of study common to both the Psychology PhD program and the Clinical Psychology PhD program (with exception of clinical training requirements). Students who choose to pursue this emphasis retain primary affiliation in their selected department area (e.g., clinical, social, developmental, behavioral neuro) but pursue additional coursework, practicum experiences, and research topics that will enhance their preparation for careers in health psychology.
Health Psychology Emphasis Requirements
In addition to standard PhD requirements, students will be required to complete the following courses (8 credits):
Psych 583 Health Psychology (3 credits)
Psych 686R Seminar in Health Psychology (3 credits)
Psych 605 Professional Seminar in Psychology (0.5 credits/semester for 4 semesters) or Psych 740R Clinical Case Conference (0.5 credits/semester for 4 semesters)
Additionally, students will be required to complete two of the following elective courses (minimum of 4 credits). Elective courses are selected through consultation with faculty mentors:
Psych 552 Applied Social Psychology
Psych 680 Clinical Neuropsychology
Psych 687R Seminar in Psychopharmacology
Psych 712R Seminar in Neuroanatomy
HLTH 608 Determinants of Health Behavior
HLTH 612 Program Planning and Evaluation
HLTH 619 Infectious and Chronic Disease Prevention and Control
HLTH 630 Small-group Health Promotion Interventions
Students pursuing the Clinical Psychology PhD are also required to complete the following practicum courses (already required as part of the Clinical PhD curriculum) in relevant training settings (e.g., health-related practica):
Psych 743R Clerkship (one or more in emphasis area)
Psych 700R Externship (one or more in emphasis area)
All students completing the emphasis will be expected to engage in health psychology research commensurate with expectations for research or scientist/practitioner careers. Students completing the Health Psychology Emphasis must select a dissertation topic related to health psychology. Emphasis area faculty will be responsible for assessing acceptability of the dissertation topic.