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Research Requirements

I. Trial Research Project

Each student will complete a trial research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor or advisors by the end of the 7th week of the Spring quarter of the second year.

  • At the start of the project, each student must form a trial research committee, composed of three faculty members. Typically, the chair of the committee is the student's primary research advisor. The chair of the committee must be a faculty or emeritus faculty member in the Psychology Department. At least one other member of the committee must be a faculty, emeritus faculty or affiliated faculty member in the Psychology Department. The third member of the committee may be from outside of the Psychology Department, provided that the chair of the trial research committee gives his or her approval.
  • The student must submit a proposal for the trial research project to his or her committee for their approval by the second week of Autumn quarter of the second year. Essential to this approval is the committee's decision that the project can feasibly be completed by the end of the second year.
  • On Friday of the seventh week of the spring quarter of the student's second year a written report of the trial research project is due.
  • The student will defend the trial research paper at a hearing with his or her committee before the end of the Spring quarter.
  • The student's committee will have evaluated the report, and will have submitted a written evaluation to the Student Affairs Committee by the end of the spring quarter.
  • Successful completion of the trial research project is a prerequisite for Ph.D. candidacy.

II. Dissertation

  • To begin the dissertation process, a student must form a three-member dissertation committee consisting of a chairperson and two other faculty members. Typically, the chair is the student's primary research advisor. The chair of the dissertation committee must be a faculty or emeritus faculty member in the Psychology Department. At least one other member of the committee must be a faculty, emeritus faculty or affiliated faculty member in the Psychology Department. The third member of the committee may be from outside of the Psychology Department, provided that the chair of the dissertation committee gives his or her approval.
  • Once a dissertation committee exists, the student must formulate an independent research project to be carried out under the committee's guidance. The student will then prepare a written dissertation proposal and submit it to his or her committee. When the student's advisor agrees, the student may schedule an oral defense of the proposal.
  • To be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy, a student must have successfully completed: (1) the Common Graduate Curriculum (including the statistics, and breadth); (2) the course requirements specified by a program or an individual course of study approved by the Curriculum Committee; (3) a trial research project; (4) approval of the dissertation proposal by all members of the student's dissertation committee following the oral defense.
  • The completed thesis must be submitted to all three committee members. When the student's advisor agrees, the student may schedule an oral defense of the dissertation. The oral exam is administered by four members of the University community: the three members of the dissertation committee and an outside reader. The outside reader may be a faculty member at the University of Chicago, or a scientist at another institution. The outside reader must be approved by the thesis advisor. If, after the oral defense, all committee members approve the thesis, the student has met the Psychology Department's requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

Yearly Evaluations:

The faculty members in each program will evaluate the progress of students working in that program on an annual basis by the end of Spring quarter. They will send each student in the program a letter conveying the conclusions of their evaluations. Students not in a program will be evaluated by their advisors and the Student Affairs Committee. In the rare case of a serious problem, the program should submit a written report to the Student Affairs Committee, which will evaluate the matter.

The criteria for evaluation are as follows:
  • First year: Students will be evaluated on successful completion of course work and submission of a satisfactory trial research proposal. A grade of B or better is usually considered the minimal level of acceptable performance in course work.
  • Second year: Students will be evaluated on successful completion of course work, laboratory research, and completion of a satisfactory trial research project. On the basis of this evaluation, the program or Student Affairs Committee will recommend whether the student should continue for the Ph.D.
  • Third year: By the end of the third year, students are expected to have completed their required courses, to have begun the dissertation process, and to have exhibited a potential for performing doctoral research.
  • Later years: Students will be evaluated on their progress at completing the dissertation. Students may seek exceptions to these guidelines by petitioning the Curriculum Committee.

Advisors

Faculty advisors serve two important functions:  (1) they guide and/or collaborate with students in conducting research; (2) they provide academic guidance.  By winter quarter of the first year, students should select a faculty advisor.  Advisors must be faculty members or emeritus faculty members in the Department of Psychology (Note: affiliated faculty members and departmental associates may not serve this function).  Each student is free to select the faculty advisor of his or her choice, although establishing an advisor-advisee relationship also depends on the faculty member agreeing to serve as an advisor.  A student may work with more than one faculty member.  Students are encouraged to interact with multiple faculty members, and to participate in the lab meetings and research activities of multiple laboratories.  In general, students are expected to be affiliated with a faculty advisor or advisors at all times during their graduate careers, although a brief interim between advisors may occur.  Students have the right to change advisors at any stage of doctoral education provided that they do so in a responsible manner.  If there is any concern about this transition, it should be handled in consultation with the Student Affairs Committee.  Students experiencing difficulties with their advisors should contact the Chair of the Psychology Department or the Chair of the Student Affairs Committee.

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