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Coursework & Requirements

The goal of the Psychology Department’s doctoral program is to familiarize students with the theories and methods of psychology in their own and other specialties, so they will be able to make original contributions in research, teaching, and applied work. The department-wide requirements for all students are:

  • Data Analysis Sequence, Psy 611, 612, 613. Completion, end of spring term of first year.
  • First Year Research Sequence (three terms, includes Ethics). Completion, end of spring term of first year.
  • Core Course Sequence (three out of five Core Courses). Complete at least two Core courses by the end of spring term of first year. Third Core Course by the end of spring of second year.
  • First Year Research Requirement. Completion, research paper due by November 15 of second year.
  • Supporting Area Requirement. Completion, end of spring term of third year, or October 15 of fourth year*.
  • Major Preliminary Examination. Completion, October 15 of fourth year, or end of spring term of the third year*.
  • Doctoral Dissertation. Completion, within seven years of matriculation.

With the exception of students who study clinical psychology, no particular courses other than those listed above are required. However, students and their advisors should develop a program of courses, seminars, and practica appropriate to their academic and career goals. Because students in the graduate program come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and because their interests may require very different graduate programs, students may petition the Graduate Education Committee (GEC) to allow deviations from any requirement. For example, students with extensive background in statistics may petition to waive any or all of the data analysis sequence. A student entering with a Master’s degree may petition to have previous coursework and/or research apply towards satisfying one or more of the other requirements.

In addition to the formal requirements listed above, two activities that are central to the Department deserve further comment. These are research and teaching.

The Ph.D. is a research and scholarly degree, and it is expected that students will be engaged in research throughout their graduate program. The ultimate goal of the graduate curriculum is to enable students to formulate interesting research questions and to put those questions to adequate empirical test. Therefore, student research is a basic and integral component of graduate work throughout all four years.

Although teaching experience is not formally required for the Ph.D., most students obtain experience in teaching, as a teaching assistant and/or as the sole instructor in an undergraduate course. Since experience at teaching is important for academic appointments, most students should do some teaching during their stay in the program. However, they should not allow teaching to prevent research activity from continuing throughout their graduate education.

Clinical Psychology Program. Students intending to receive their degree in clinical psychology have additional requirements. These requirements are discussed in the Guide to the Clinical Program available from the director of the clinical program or the graduate secretary.

*Either the Supporting Area Requirement or Major Preliminary Exam must be completed by the end of spring term of the third year, with the other completed by October 15th of the fourth year.