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 emphasis 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.
Second Year Project
During fall semester of the first year, the Second Year Project is conceptualize and research begins. A Second-Year Research Project Definition Form, with a 250-word abstract attached, is 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.
During fall semester of the second year, the second-year project will culminate in a written manuscript submitted for review, no later than the last day of class, to the committee chair.
The revised written manuscript is then submitted no later than the end of the first week of winter semester of the second year to the three inside committee members of the student’s dissertation committee, (thesis committee for Clinical Psychology students). Recommendations for revisions will be made as determined by the committee. Their recommendations will be returned to the student no later than January 31st, so the student can begin work on the February poster presentation. 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.
The exam will be administered on a pre-specified day in August in the second year of study, prior to the beginning of fall semester and the third year of study.
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.
- 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.
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, 608 (4 semesters), Advanced Seminar (620R, 650R, or 685R) (6 semesters), Advanced Topic (720R, 750R, or 785R).
- Elective 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), 627R, (Advanced Social Development), and 628 (Advanced Perceptual and Cognitive Development).
- 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.