The doctoral curriculum includes courses taken to fulfill the common graduate curriculum, research requirements, pedagogical training, and other requirements set by the student's area of specialization.
Common Graduate Course Curriculum
Proseminar: One-quarter course in which faculty members in the Department of Psychology give a summary of their ongoing research and students write a research proposal, to be submitted for an NSF graduate fellowship if the student is eligible for this funding. Professional development topics are also covered.
Statistics Requirement: Three courses (these courses must be passed with a grade of B or better):
- Statistics 22000 or Business 41000 or equivalent approved by the Graduate Curriculum Committee. More advanced courses, for which these courses are prerequisites also fulfill this requirement.
- Psychology 37300: Experimental Design and Statistical Modeling I.
- Psychology 37900 Experimental Design and Statistical Modeling II.
Trial Research Seminar: All graduate students are required to take the trial research seminar in the spring quarter of the first year. The purpose of this seminar is to help students formulate and complete their trial research projects.
Breadth Requirement: Students are required to take a minimum of three doctoral level courses in Psychology, extending across different areas of psychological science. Statistics courses and laboratory meetings may not be used to fulfill this requirement. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor and program area. These courses must be passed with a grade of B or better.
I. Trial Research
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 PhD candidacy.
- 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 PhD 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 deadline for entering candidacy is the end of Spring quarter of the fourth year.
- 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 PhD degree.
- The completed dissertation must be formatted and submitted to the dissertation office by the published deadlines for the quarter in which the student plans to graduate. It is recommended that the oral defense be held no later than fifth 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.
Doctoral Program Mentored Teaching Requirements
Practical pedagogical experience is a program requirement in the doctoral programs in the Division of the Social Science. In Spring of each year, graduate students apply for departmental teaching opportunities for the upcoming academic year.
The department’s mentoring plan outlines the timing of the expected milestones of students in the program, and the roles of the faculty advisors, the director of graduate studies, the area chairs, and the department chair. Students who do not meet the expected milestones by the deadlines listed above and fully described in the mentoring plan may petition the appropriate faculty leader (director of graduate studies for general curriculum and research requirements; area heads for area requirements) for an extension to a deadline. Students who do not complete the requirements by the approved deadlines may be placed on probation. A notice of probation will include the necessary steps and timeline to return to good academic standing. Students who do not complete the steps to return to good academic standing will be withdrawn from the program.
Students with questions about the requirements may contact Kristi Schonwald (Sr. Student Affairs Administrator) in the Department of Psychology. Students may also contact Brett Baker (Associate Dean of Students) in the Social Sciences Division or Amanda Young (Associate Director, Graduate Student Affairs) in UChicagoGRAD.