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PhD Program Overview



First-Year Course Requirements—During the first year of graduate study, the student must take PSYCH 207, Proseminar for First-Year Ph.D. Graduate Students, at least one approved graduate statistics course, and at least two core courses from the list following:


PSYCH 202. Neuroscience

PSYCH 205. Foundations of Cognition

PSYCH 211. Developmental Psychology

PSYCH 212. Social Psychology

or PSYCH 215. Mind, Culture, and Society

PSYCH 213. Affective Science


Students in each area may be required to take up to two additional non-core graduate courses in their area of specialization.


The student is expected to spend at least half of the time in research from the beginning of the first year of graduate study to the completion of the Ph.D., normally taking no more than 10 units of course work each quarter. At the end of the first year of graduate study, the student must file with the department a written report of the first-year research activities. The deadline for filing this report is the first Monday of June.


Second Year Course Requirements—By the end of the second year of graduate study, the student must complete the core courses listed above and take a second approved graduate course in statistics.


Third-Year and Beyond—Students are expected to form a research committee, which must include the dissertation reading committee, before the initiation of the dissertation research. The research committee includes the dissertation adviser and consists of at least three faculty members, at least two of whom should be in the Psychology department. For University guidelines for the composition of the dissertation reading committee, see the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.


The research committee must meet no later than the first day of classes of Spring Quarter of the third year, and determines the timeline for further development of the dissertation research project. Subsequent meetings are triggered by the completion of one of two documents: a dissertation proposal (DP) or a conceptual analysis of the dissertation area (CADA). The timing and sequencing of the DP and CADA are developed by the student in consultation with the committee. As a general guide, one of the two preliminary elements (CADA or DP) should be completed by the end of the third Summer Quarter and the second should be completed by the end of the fourth Spring Quarter. Students are free to alter the membership of the committee at any time during the process, subject to consultation with the adviser.


The DP should be a description of the proposed research. The CADA provides a framework for the research topic of the dissertation, addresses the central issues within the specialty area, and reviews the pertinent literature.


Advanced Course or Minor Requirements—The candidate must complete 12 units of advanced graduate course work or a Ph.D. minor in another department. If a student waives the minor requirement in favor of the 12 advanced units, the student must fulfill the advanced course requirement by taking (a) non-core graduate courses required by a particular area, or (b) graduate-level courses in other departments comparable in quality to Psychology's graduate courses. If there is any question about comparability, the student should consult the adviser, student services, and, in some cases, the graduate education committee chair before taking the course.


Orals—The candidate must pass the University oral examination, which also serves as a dissertation defense. A committee is formed to review the oral examination, including the research committee and one oral examination committee chair from outside of the Psychology department. The oral examination consists of a 40-45-minute presentation to the department of the completed dissertation research. Parents and friends are welcome to attend. Following the presentation, the student and the committee convene for a discussion of the dissertation and the presentation.


Dissertation Requirements—The candidate must complete a dissertation satisfactory to the dissertation reading committee prior to the oral examination. Minor revisions to formatting may be made after the oral examination.


Ph.D. candidacy expires five years after admission to candidacy at the end of the second year of study. Reapplication requires department reexamination.


Teaching RequirementThe department views experience in supervised teaching as an integral part of its graduate program. Regardless of the source of financial support, all students serve as teaching assistants for at least five Psychology courses during their graduate study. Of the courses, two must be PSYCH 1, Introduction to Psychology, or PSYCH 10, 252 or 253, Statistical Methods. Students are discouraged from participating in teaching during the first year of graduate study. Students typically progress from closely supervised teaching to more independent work. Some students may be invited to offer a supervised, but essentially independent, seminar during their final year of graduate study.