Psychology

PSYCHOLOGY

The curricular requirements for students entering before 2008 may be found in the department’s website.

For students entering in 2008 or later, there are two tracks: Clinical Psychology and the Common Curriculum.

Departmental Requirements for the PhD in Psychology

Section I. Requirements for Non-Clinical Students

The non-clinical PhD program in Psychology can and should be completed in five years. Students who require more time must petition the CHD (Committee on Higher Degrees) and receive written approval of their request. Requests for one additional year will typically be approved and—except under extraordinary circumstances—subsequent requests will be denied. Students who have not completed the PhD program at the end of six years will be withdrawn. Students who have been withdrawn may seek readmission, which will be contingent on (a) the willingness of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the psychology department to serve as the student’s advisor; (b) approval by the CHD; and (c) successful completion of an oral examination in Psychology prepared and administered by the CHD.

A. Courses and Projects

All students must complete the following requirements. Course requirements are completed by achieving a grade of B+ or better.

  1. Psychology Department Proseminar (PSY 2010) must be completed by the end of the first year.
  2. Two Survey Courses must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the second year.
    1. One of the survey courses must be CBB Proseminar (PSY 2020ab) or Social Proseminar (PSY 2500) or Developmental Proseminar (PSY 2170).
    2. The second survey course must either be one of the above or a substitute survey course approved by the CHD.
  3. Two elective courses must be taken from a list of elective courses approved by the CHD. Elective courses are typically substantive seminars offered by psychology department faculty.
  4. Two statistics courses must be taken.
  5. One of the statistics courses must be PSY 1950 (Intermediate Statistical Analysis in Psychology) which must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the first year. The current department policy is to only allow a substitutions which cover the same material as 1952.
  6. The second statistics course must be PSY 1952 (Multivariate Analysis) or a substitute statistics course approved by the CHD, and must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the second year. The current department policy is to only allow substitutions which cover the same material as 1952.
  7. Students must complete a first-year project. Students must write a satisfactory proposal for an original research project (not a review) that is approved by their faculty advisor(s) by the end of the fall semester of their first year. Students must complete the proposed project and submit a satisfactory written report to their faculty advisor by the end of the spring semester of the first year.
  8. Students must complete a second-year project. Students must write a satisfactory report of an original research project (not a review) that is approved by their faculty advisor(s) by the end of the spring semester of their second year. Students must also make a satisfactory oral presentation of this work to the department in May of the second year.

B. Master of Arts (AM)

Students may be recommended for the non-terminal degree of Master of Arts upon completion of the relevant GSAS residence requirements and the requirements in I.A.1-8.

Section II. Requirements for Clinical Students

The clinical PhD program in Psychology can and should be completed in six years (prior to internship). Students who require more time must petition the CHD and receive written approval of their request. Requests for one additional year will typically be approved and—except under extraordinary circumstances—subsequent requests will be denied. Students who have not completed the PhD program at the end of seven years will be withdrawn. Students who have been withdrawn may seek readmission, which will be contingent on (a) the willingness of a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the psychology department to serve as the student’s advisor; (b) approval by the CHD; and (c) successful completion of an oral examination in Psychology prepared and administered by the CHD.

A. Courses and Projects

All students must complete the following requirements. Course requirements are completed by achieving a grade of B+ or better.

  1. PSY 2010 (Contemporary Topics in Psychological Research) must be completed by the end of the fall semester of the first year
  2. PSY 1951 (Intermediate Quantitative Methods) or PSY 1950 (Intermediate Statistical Analysis in Psychology) must be completed by the end of the fall semester of the first year.
  3. PSY 1952 (Multivariate Analysis) must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the first year.
  4. PSY 2040 (Contemporary Topics in Psychopathology) must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the second year.
  5. PSY 2050 (History of Psychology) must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the fourth year.
  6. Students must complete a first-year project. Students must write a satisfactory research proposal that is approved by their faculty advisor(s) and by the CHD by the end of the fall semester of their first year. Students must complete the proposed research and submit a satisfactory written report to their faculty advisor by the end of the spring semester of the first year.
  7. Students must complete a second-year project. Students must write a satisfactory research report that is approved by their faculty advisor(s) by the end of the spring semester of their second year. Students must also make a satisfactory oral presentation of this work to the department in May of the second year.
  8. Students must complete a six-hour general examination covering in considerable depth the literature in the area of psychopathology and clinical psychology during the summer preceding the fall semester of the third year.
  9. Students must complete a one-year clinical internship. Students must complete all of the above requirements described in II.A.1-8 before beginning the internship. In addition, students must meet the course requirements and the practicum placement requirements of the APA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts licensing board before beginning the internship.
  10. Finally, students must meet or exceed the standards for professional conduct and responsibility that are described in the clinical program handbook. Failure to meet these standards can be grounds for termination from the clinical program, even if a student is in good academic standing.

B. Master of Arts (AM)

Students may be recommended for the non-terminal degree of Master of Arts upon completion of the relevant GSAS residence requirements and the requirements in II.A.1-8.

Section III: Requirements for All Students

A. The Dissertation Prospectus

By the end of the spring semester of their penultimate year and no less than nine months before the oral defense, students must complete a dissertation prospectus for an original project that is meant to culminate in the dissertation.

    1. The prospectus committee will comprise three members, at least two of whom must be faculty members in the psychology department. The prospectus committee members are to be nominated by the student and his or her advisor and approved by the CHD. (Members who are tenured or tenure-track faculty members in the psychology department are automatically approved). The student must supply the c.v. of any proposed members who are not tenured or tenure-track faculty members in the psychology department.
    2. The department requires that the prospectus be approved by the end of the spring semester of the penultimate year. (Note that students who wish to apply for the guaranteed Dissertation Completion Fellowship must observe the GSAS deadline, which requires that the prospectus be approved by the prospectus committee by mid- February of the student’s penultimate year. GSAS also requires the submission of two draft chapters or one of three articles to the advisor before applying for a completion fellowship).
    3. Students whose prospectuses have not been approved by the prospectus committee by the end of the spring semester of the penultimate year will be considered in bad standing and will be withdrawn from the graduate program.

B. The Dissertation and the Oral Defense

In the ultimate year, students must submit a PhD dissertation in one of two formats.

    1. The traditional format is described in the document The Form of the PhD Dissertation.
    2. The 3-paper format consists of:
      1. Three articles describing original empirical research that the dissertation committee deems “of publishable quality.” The student must be the first author on each paper. At least one of the three papers must be under review, in press, or published in a peer-reviewed journal.
      2. An introductory chapter that thoroughly reviews the literature relevant to the three papers.
      3. A concluding chapter that describes what was learned from the three papers.
    3. The dissertation must be submitted to the dissertation committee which will comprise the members of the prospectus committee and an additional outside examiner. The outside examiner must be approved by the CHD. The outside examiner is typically a tenured or tenure-track faculty member at Harvard University, though other qualified individuals may be approved by the CHD. The outside examiner should be someone whose primary expertise is in a topic area other than the one covered by the dissertation.
    4. Once the dissertation committee is satisfied with the written dissertation, the student may schedule an oral defense of the dissertation. Oral defenses may not be scheduled during summer months.

Teaching

It is expected that most graduates of this program will go on to have academic careers. Hence, experience in teaching is an integral part of the graduate training program. This teaching is expected of all students regardless of their source of funding.

Duration of Program

Four or five years is deemed an adequate time to meet the requirements for the PhD. The department’s requirements for good standing state that a student should have an approved prospectus by the middle of the fourth year. Students who do not have an approved prospectus will be withdrawn.

Prospectus meetings and oral defenses may not be held during the summer months.

A period of at least nine months must pass between prospectus approval and scheduling of the oral dissertation defense.

A student’s status will be listed as “unsatisfactory” if the prospectus has not been approved by the start of the spring term of the fifth year. Students in unsatisfactory status may not receive financial aid such as tuition grants, and may not hold teaching fellowships.

Students who have not finished and who wish to register for a sixth year are required to petition the CHD. It will be assumed that students will be in good standing and can demonstrate good progress by having an approved prospectus and the support of the advisor. Permission to register beyond the sixth year is rarely granted and will be considered only in very extraordinary cases. Students who have not finished in six years must withdraw and may petition for readmission when they are ready to defend the dissertation. Students who seek readmission more than eight years after initial matriculation 1) must find an advisor willing to work with them; 2) will be given an oral examination covering the area covered by the general examination or Core courses in their area. Readmission will be contingent upon passing this oral examination.