Graduate Program

The graduate program in psychology offers training in the behavioral sciences including concentrations in perception, cognitive science, cognitive neuroscience, social and biopsychology. There is a strong emphasis on research, empirical methods, teaching, and presentation skills throughout the duration of graduate studies. At the end of each year, all students give a formal presentation of their recent research findings.

In preparation for cross-disciplinary research, all students are required to take and pass one course in each of our five concentration areas. Additionally, students must pass foundation courses that include statistics, experimental design, and our proseminar. To gain depth as well as breadth in the behavioral sciences, students must also complete 21 credits of electives during their training. In addition to course work and continuous research, during the month of September, all third-year graduate students must pass the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam consists of five different essay questions, one from each of our core areas.

The dissertation committee is formed after the student has passed the comprehensive examination but before he or she has conducted final dissertation research. This committee must approve the student`s dissertation proposal, and it has full control over the nature of that proposal. The committee consists of a chairperson, who is a full member of the graduate faculty; two other members of the graduate faculty; and an outside member. All members of the committee and all changes in the committee must be approved by the program director. The membership of the committee can be changed, however, by agreement between the committee chairperson and the program director.

When the dissertation is complete, the student and the committee chairperson schedule an oral defense, working in consultation with the other committee members. The date of the oral defense must be approved by the program director at least four weeks before the defense takes place. All members of the graduate faculty are invited to attend the defense. Every attempt is made by the members of the dissertation committee to reach a unanimous decision, but if this should prove impossible, a student can pass the defense with affirmative votes from three of the four members.