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 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 should initiate discussion of their trial research project with members of their trial research committee as soon as possible, but preferably no later than the end of the second week of Autumn quarter of their second year.  By the end of the Autumn quarter in Year 2, the student’s trial research committee should meet to approve the student’s trial research project proposal. At a minimum, this meeting consists of a student presentation of the proposed work and discussion of the plan with the committee.  
  • The student will submit the trial research paper prior to the end of the spring quarter of the second year and defend the trial research paper at a hearing with his or her committee prior to the end of the Spring Quarter of the second year. At the hearing, the committee will also assess the student’s breadth and depth of knowledge of his or her research problem.
  • 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 a University of Chicago faculty member 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. In addition to specifying the research question(s) and situating them in the appropriate literature, the proposal should include a concrete plan for conducting the dissertation research, including the proposed methodology and analyses, possible outcomes, and time-line for completion. Feasibility also should be addressed, which may require preliminary data. 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.
  • The completed dissertation must be formatted and submitted to the dissertation office by Friday of 7th week of the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. It is recommended that the oral defense be held no later that sixth week of the quarter in order to ensure meeting the dissertation office deadline. Though not mandatory, it is helpful to submit a draft of the dissertation by the draft deadline in order to receive feedback on formatting issues. For information about formatting the dissertation and submission deadlines, please visit the dissertation office's website.