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Synopsis of Program

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Overview of the Program


The Social Psychology Program is designed to provide coursework in social psychology (one per semester) until all degree requirements are completed, complemented with at least a two-year sequence of courses in statistics. While undertaking these courses, we require substantive research experience in the form of  first year and second year projects. Once these requirements have been met, a qualifying exam in the form of one or more theoretical or literature review papers provides an entrée to candidacy for the doctoral degree. A description of each of these requirements is provided below.

First Year Project:

The first year project must be empirical, and completed by the end of the first year. A written proposal in the form of a memorandum summarizes the intended project/research idea to be submitted to the faculty advisor by the end of December of the first year. A presentation at Brown Bag of these initial ideas occurs in the first semester. A presentation of the final project takes place at the end of the spring semester of the first year or early in the fall semester of the second year. A final written paper is completed before the beginning of the second year.

Second Year Project:

Before fall semester of the second year begins, students will obtain agreement of a minimum of two social faculty to be sponsors of their second year project. By the end of the fall semester of the second year (but preferably earlier) there will be a meeting in which the student meets with committee members to discuss proposal ideas. Following the meeting a 2-5 page abstract of the proposal/ideas discussed at the meeting is prepared. The Second year project is presented at a Brown Bag at the end of the second year. A final written paper in APA style is written prior to the beginning of the third year. [note: If a student elects to obtain a Master's degree, this paper will be formatted according to Graduate and Professional Education requirements and submitted as a Master’s thesis.]

Social Psychology Qualifying Exam Philosophy:

The Qualifying Exam (Quals) is conceived as a scholarly exercise, completed in the student's third year that accomplishes the primary goal of qualifying a student for independent research and scholarship required to conduct a doctoral dissertation. Moreover, this exercise is meant to demonstrate that the student has an excellent chance of becoming a contributing independent scholar and scientist in the general area of social psychology and its many applications. We believe that the Quals should further the student’s work leading to a successful dissertation, while allowing for a fair assessment of the student’s knowledge in the broad area of research interest, as well as his or her scholarly, methodological, conceptual and writing abilities. To be regarded as a student in good standing, the qualifying exam should be completed before the beginning of the 6th semester.

Structure and Processes of Exam:

The Qualifying Exam will consist of one or more Review/Integration paper(s) in a format comparable to Psychological Bulletin or Psychological Review.

The content of the exam is determined in the following manner:

  1. Student writes a statement of research interests and indicates who in addition to his or her advisor would be an appropriate member of the exam committee. 
  2. In consultation with the advisor, a three-person committee, chaired by the advisor, is formed consisting of at least two faculty in the Social Program.
  3. The student then defines the area(s) of the exam by a) listing three or more topics about which it would be appropriate to write, and b) proposes a reading list of at least 20 articles/books that define the important works in the general area of interest. 
  4. In consultatio​n with the Committee, the student then finalizes the reading list and the exam project by writing a 2-5 page overview of the goal and value of the proposed work.  Once this is reviewed, discussed and approved by the Committee, the student is free to work on the paper(s) to completion.

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Synopsis of Program