Social-Personality Psychology Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Program of Study and Research

(66 credits, minimum)

The general aim of the doctoral program is preparation of students to become productive scholars in the psychological sciences through coursework and research experience leading to the doctoral dissertation. It is the aim of this graduate program to provide a course of study which provides a foundation in psychology and to meet individual objectives in an area of specialization.

Departmental Requirements

In the first year of doctoral studies, students take the two-semester sequence of statistics courses, Psy 510 and 511. A student who receives a grade lower than B in Psy 510 or 511 must repeat the course. (Students who earn less than a B in 510 cannot enroll in 511.) First-year students are expected to take at least 12 hours per semester. First-year students also take Psy 600A,B, which is a two semester course.

Outside-of-Area Courses

Students are expected to gain knowledge of psychological research by taking courses in most of the department's specializations. Breadth of knowledge in these areas is accomplished with courses recommended by the student's advisor. Each student is required to take a minimum of four courses outside her or his own specialization. The four courses must be selected from at least two different areas of specialization within the Ph.D. program. Such courses would typically include Psy 601, 602, 603, 605, 606, 640, or 641, although other courses (including courses from other departments) may be used to satisfy this requirement. Each area of specialization may identify particular courses for its students to take.

All graduate students must maintain a B average among the four courses outside their own specialization. If a student earns less than a C in one of these courses, and is still retained in the program, the student will repeat the course regardless of the student's overall average.

Psy 600 Project Research Competency Paper

Satisfactory completion of the Psy 600 A and B courses requires a research competency paper similar in scope to a paper submitted to peer-review journals. This paper will include a substantive review of relevant literature; detailed description of methods and materials used to generate empirical data; fully documented data analyses; and a discussion of issues raised by the results. Projects limited to qualitative literature reviews are not acceptable. This paper must be written entirely by the student, and must bear the written approval of the student's advisor and the department chair. This paper is expected to be completed by the end of the student's second year of graduate study.

Research Tool Requirement

Every student must present evidence of the satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement. Only one tool is required.

The department defines the research tool as a course or area of study involving both a skill component and an execution component which will aid students in their dissertation and future research endeavors. The tool subject must be satisfied following admission to and in addition to the student's program of study in psychology.

The following areas are set forth as illustrative only, as possible areas to fulfill the research tool requirement: computer programming, mathematics, electronics, biochemistry, histological techniques, foreign language, pharmacology, and advanced statistics.

The actual area to be studied, the work to be completed, and the method of evaluation must be approved by the student's advisor.

Departmental Examinations

The department qualifying examination consists of a demonstration by graduate students that they are prepared and qualified to perform independently and professionally within their area of specialization.

Before the end of the fourth year of study, a student must have completed the doctoral qualifying examination. All graduate students will be required to complete the Psy 600A,B project before they may take the qualifying examination. The department qualifying examination consists of a prepared and qualified to perform independently and professionally within their area of specialization. This demonstration will require broad-ranging mastery of conceptual and methodological issues in the area, and is exemplified by a comprehensive test, an integrative review article, or a grant proposal. The specific format will be determined by the student's Qualifying Examination Committee, which must include at least three area faculty. It is the student's responsibility to consult with his or her advisor about examination format, committee membership, and time line. If a student fails the qualifying examination, he/she may take it once more. Failure on the second occasion constitutes a basis for dismissal from the program.


Students must submit an acceptable dissertation which demonstrates that they are capable of doing independent scholarly work and are able to formulate conclusions which should modify or extend previous knowledge. Students must be formally admitted to candidacy before the dissertation proposal can be accepted and approved.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated here:

  1. Students authorized to register for work on a dissertation may meet this 12 credit per session requirement by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 8 earned course credits and registering for work on the dissertation for load credits that will bring the total to 12 credits for each of two sessions.
  2. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the residency requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 15 registered credits during the year plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory completion of the research competency paper;
  2. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study;
  3. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  4. Completion of university residence requirements;
  5. Satisfactory completion of the doctoral qualifying examination.

Statute of Limitations

All courses used to satisfy degree requirements (other than Psy 899) must have been completed no more than eight years prior to the semester in which the degree is officially granted by the University. This limitation also applies to all courses taken at other institutions for which transfer credit has been granted by the University.

Requirements Specific to Social-Personality Psychology

The student must successfully complete six courses outside of the Social- Personality Area. Social-Personality students must successfully complete a minimum of two of the following as out-of-area courses: Psy 601, 602, 603, 604, 610, or 641. (Of the remaining four outside courses, a maximum of two may be courses given in other departments with the prior approval of the student's advisor.)

The student must take the introductory social course (Psy 605) and the introductory personality course (Psy 606) in the first year of study.

The student must complete the following advanced courses within four years of study: Psy 730 Attitudes and Social Cognition; Psy 737 Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology; Psy 755 Personality Processes and Individual Differences; Psy 765 Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes.

A student in the social/personality area of concentration is expected to demonstrate competence in a research area which has been chosen in consultation with an advisor and a faculty member from the department. Possible projects might include a major authorship on a paper of social psychological research accepted for journal publication, an evaluative review of a research area, or preparation of a real or simulated three- year grant proposal.