Student Handbook

Overview and Policies of the Psychology program

School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences
Claremont Graduate University

Guidelines Specific to Completing a Doctorate

This section of the handbook contains information specific to timelines and requirements for the Ph.D. in Psychology. All Ph.D. students are responsible to be familiar with the information on this page, as well as the other portions of the SBOS Student Handbook.

In addition to meeting the specific deadlines, you should have a plan for yourself that brings you to the completion of your degree well within the institutionally set time limits. For Ph.D. students, this means seven years from entry with a B.A. degree, six years from entry with an M.A. degree. The CGU administration will sometimes grant extensions of these time limits, upon recommendation of the department, but in psychology we are reluctant to make such recommendations unless the student demonstrates active progress before the time limit expires. (See "Institutional Time Limits and Departmental Policy on Extensions".)

We recommend that you sit down during your first semester and chart out all the requirements and when and how you think you will meet them. With this homework done, meet with your advisor to go over the plan and to get answers to any questions that this exercise has turned up. By the end of the first year if you enter with a master's degree, or by the end of the second year if you do your master's thesis at CGU, the department ordinarily will schedule you for a program and portfolio planning meeting with a faculty committee to formalize an individualized plan for completing your Ph.D. program. By that point you are not only expected to be very informed about program requirements and deadlines, but to have realistic and appropriate ideas about how you will meet those requirements. Sample portfolio plans are available in the department office.

Sample target timelines. To provide some guidance for your program planning, we offer below some target timelines for students entering with the B.A. and those entering with the M.A. These timelines are reasonable goals for full-time students and they provide for meeting all departmental requirements. Part-time students will need to adjust these guidelines to a slower pace, but should not plan on extending them by more than one or two years. Students who expect to attend part-time should meet with their academic advisor to discuss a timeline.

Actual time to complete a Ph.D. The actual time to complete a Ph.D. varies considerably. The Survey of Earned Doctorates (2007) reported that nationally the median elapsed time between B.A. and Ph.D. in psychology is 7.9 years. A tabulation of 35 recent psychology Ph.D.s from SBOS showed a median elapsed time from enrollment to Ph.D. of 7.6 years. In this sample, students entering with an empirical Master’s degree in psychology finished about a semester earlier than students entering with a Bachelor’s degree.

 

Timeline for Completion of Doctoral Degree

Entering with B.A.

Entering with M.A. (see above)

By the end of the first year:

  • Prerequisite deficiencies
  • Statistics sequence 308a, b, c, & d
  • One qualifying core course
  • M.A. proposal signed off
  • M.A. project started
  • Prerequisite deficiencies
  • Statistics sequence 308a, b, c, & d
  • One qualifying core course
  • First year research project proposal signed off
  • Portfolio planning meeting

By the end of the second year:

  • Qualifying core course
  • M.A. thesis completed
  • Portfolio planning meeting
  • Some portfolio items completed
  • Qualifying core course
  • Research tools completed
  • First year research project completed
  • Field placement/Teaching seminar
  • Some portfolio items completed
  • Course work completed

By the end of the third year:

  • Qualifying courses completed
  • Portfolio completed
  • Research tools completed
  • Field placement/Teaching seminar
  • Course work completed
  • Oral qualifying examination
  • Qualifying courses completed
  • Portfolio completed
  • Oral qualifying examination
  • Dissertation proposal approved
  • Dissertation project under way

By the end of the fourth year:

  • Dissertation proposal approved
  • Dissertation project under way
  • Dissertation complete?
  • Dissertation complete
  • Degree awarded (Congratulations!)

By the end of the fifth year:

  • Dissertation complete
  • Degree awarded (Congratulations!)
 

Summary of Steps in the CGU Psychology Ph.D. Program

Psychology 302: Research Methods. Required of all graduate students. Students who have taken a comparable graduate-level course are encouraged to discuss with the instructor whether they should take a waiver examination.

Psychology 306: Directed Research. During their first two semesters, Ph.D. students will enroll in Directed Research (Psych 306). If arrangements are made with the 306 instructor to work with a faculty supervisor from outside the core faculty, the student must keep the 306 instructor informed about research plans and progress. An approved research proposal is required by the end of classes in the spring semester of the first year to successfully complete this course.

Psychology 308a, b, c & d: Statistics sequence. Required of all graduate students. Students who have already taken a statistics course comparable to any of these modules are encouraged to take the waiver examination given at the beginning of the semester. The waiver exam must be passed for graduate units in comparable courses to be acceptable for transfer into CGU.

Methodology. All students are required to take (or waive) at least 4 units of methodology courses beyond the required Research Methods course 302. Any course from the Psychology 315 series count toward this requirement.

Qualifying Core Courses. All students are required to take and pass, with a grade of B- or higher, two or more Qualifying Core Course seminars, in their area of specialization, within the first three years of graduate study. Grades of "Incomplete" are not given.

Directed Research Projects. All students are required to conduct an empirical research project prior to beginning work on their Ph.D. dissertation.

Unit Requirements. The M.A. degree requires a minimum of 48 units and the Ph.D. requires 72 units.

M.A. Degree. An M.A. degree is required en route to the Ph.D. degree. To receive a MA along the way to the PhD, at least 48 units of course work and a M.A. thesis signed and approved by two readers must be completed by the CGU deadline for receiving a degree.

Master's Thesis Proposal. Students must submit to the psychology office a copy of the approved proposal along with an official form signed by the thesis advisor and member(s) of the committee. The form is available online. An approved Master's thesis proposal must be submitted by the end of the third semester at CGU or the student will be transferred from the Ph.D. program to the terminal M.A. program. Be sure to obtain approval of the Institutional Review Board if you plan to use human subjects in your research.

M.A. Thesis Committee. Consists of the research advisor and one committee member. Normally early drafts of the thesis are reviewed only by the research advisor. Membership on the committee is recommended by the research advisor to the SBOS Dean.

Teaching or Field Placement. All SBOS Ph.D. students are required to take either the Field Placement Seminar (with an accompanying internship) or the Teaching Seminar (with an accompanying teaching experience). The teaching requirement can be satisfied either by (a) taking the Teaching of Psychology course that is taught in SBOS or (b) serving as a Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) year long Fellow. Students may participate in more than one of these options; however, because of redundancy in the subject matter, students may not apply more than a total of 4 units of teaching courses toward a graduate degree. In addition, none of these options will satisfy the portfolio item of a two course sequence outside of Psychology.

Ph.D. Program Planning and Portfolio Committee. A meeting is held with a supervisory committee consisting of a chair and one faculty member to plan the student's program and the portfolio. The meeting is usually scheduled during the second year. Normally the student’s research advisor and academic advisor are members of the portfolio committee; at least one member of the committee must be core faculty. Portfolio guidelines and guidelines for preparing review papers for the portfolio are available online and in the psychology office.

Portfolio. A cumulative portfolio is assembled to provide evidence of professional development within an area of career specialization. A minimum of two research tools and six different products or experiences that are relevant to the professional goals and specialization area are to be submitted and approved, by the end of the third year of graduate study (fourth year if fewer than 40 units are taken during the first two years).

Portfolio Checklist. This detailed plan for the individual student's portfolio, signed by the student and the portfolio committee members, is submitted to the psychology office after the portfolio planning meeting, with a copy given to the student.

Program Planning Summary. This plan for meeting all program requirements normally is prepared at the program planning meeting and submitted to the psychology office.

Research Tools. Two research tools must be completed before taking the oral qualifying examination. A list of the approved research tools is available online and in the department office along with guides for individual tools.

Residency. The residence requirement for the Ph.D. degree may be met either by two semesters of full-time study in a 2 year period or by the combination of 48 units of coursework within a 3 year period, including work in the summer session. The full CGU policy is stated in the Bulletin.

Oral Qualifying Examination. The following requirements must be met before a student is permitted to take the oral qualifying examination: Completion of qualifying courses, completion of all portfolio items and the program outline form, completion of residency, satisfaction of the research tool requirement, completion of not less than two years of full-time graduate study (48 units) or their equivalent (including the period for which transfer credit was received). When the student is ready for the qualifying examination, the student's research advisor nominates two additional committee members, confirms that they have agreed to serve, and the department chair recommends the membership to the CGU Provost for University approval. This recommendation must be made at least TWO WEEKS before the examination. It is desirable that one member of the committee be a faculty member with little or no prior contact with the student. Before the examination, the examining committee will have the following available for their review:

1. Statement of professional development from the student. Guidelines and samples are available in the Psychology office.
2. Current curriculum vitae from the student.
3. Summary of academic progress from department files, including portfolio and accompanying documents.

Dissertation Committee. A Dissertation Supervisory Committee, normally three Graduate Faculty in Psychology members, one of whom must be a member of the SBOS Core Faculty, must be approved by the SBOS Dean prior to approval of the dissertation proposal. The procedure is for the committee chair, in consultation with the student, to select two other faculty and secure their agreement to be on the committee. The SBOS Dean recommends the committee membership to the CGU Provost for approval. After a draft of the dissertation has been approved by the chair, a fourth member will be chosen from outside the Claremont Colleges. See "Final Oral Examination," below, for more details.

Advancement to Candidacy. When the Dissertation Supervisory Committee accepts the final form of the dissertation proposal and a 350 word abstract, the signed approval form and abstract are submitted to the Registrar's office and the CGU Provost via the Psychology office. It is common for the dissertation committee to meet with the student to discuss the proposal prior to approval. Upon approval by the Provost, the student is advanced to candidacy. NOTE: Advancement must occur at least six months before the final oral defense.

Dissertation. Although early drafts of the dissertation are normally reviewed only by the dissertation chair, each member of the Supervisory Committee must approve the final draft before it is submitted to the outside visiting examiner. An outside visiting examiner should be sent a final copy of the dissertation at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled date of the examination unless other arrangements are made.

Final Oral Examination. A recommendation of the committee membership by the dissertation chair and the department chair must be given to the CGU Provost three weeks before the date of the final oral examination. The form is accompanied by an abstract of the dissertation no more than 350 words in length and written so as to be comprehensible to a public as wide as possible within obvious constraints of accuracy.

All Final Oral Examination Committees in SBOS consist of at least four examiners. One member will be a qualified visiting examiner from outside the Claremont community. This person must have a Ph.D., and usually has expertise in the area of research of the student's dissertation. Usually the outside examiner is recommended by the dissertation chair in consultation with the student.

The deadline for scheduling doctoral oral exams is published in the current CGU Bulletin. Normally a final copy of the dissertation is prepared after the orals, for final approval of any changes by the committee chair and possibly other committee members. The final original copy plus at least 2 photocopies must be submitted to the psychology office prior to the final date for completion of all requirements, as listed in the CGU Bulletin.

Time Limits. No more than 7 years from the time a student begins graduate study will be allowed for the fulfillment of all degree requirements (6 years if 13-24 units of transfer credit are accepted toward degree; 6.5 years if 1-12 units are transferred in).

Time extensions are allowed only if certain conditions are met. The psychology faculty will not grant an extension longer than one year at a time. Only students who have passed the oral qualifying examination will be considered for a second extension. Only students who have been advanced to doctoral candidacy and are making satisfactory progress on the dissertation will be considered for a third extension. No more than three extensions will be granted. For the full policy on extensions of time limits, click on the link above.

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