Information for Current Graduate Students

Degree Requirements and Forms

  • Degree Requirements


    Master's Program

    The typical M.A. program requires two years of graduate study and an acceptable thesis (Plan A) or research project (Plan B). The Ph.D. program ordinarily requires a minimum of two or three additional years of academic work, including research leading to a dissertation. In the case of certain applied fields, a year of internship is a part of the graduate program. Students are expected to progress through programs taking about four to five years to complete the Ph.D. degree. An additional year in clinical psychology allows for completion of the clinical internship. 

    The Master's degree requires completion of 30 credits beyond the Bachelor's degree. Included with these is the requirement of four to eight credits of individual research. Part of this requirement may be accomplished in a research apprenticeship but most (or all) of it will be credits for work on your Master's research project. There is one department-wide course requirement: one semester of Quantitative Research Design and Analysis in Psychology (PSY 8l5), or the equivalent is required. 

    Requirement Details

    More generally, degree requirements for each student are developed in consultation with faculty advisers and members of the student's Master's and Doctoral program committees. Their task is to help the student plan a program that best facilitates progress toward educationally sound goals and insures competencies for area of specialization. 

    Each graduate student should begin to develop and demonstrate research skills as soon as possible. Most students start either by working on an ongoing research project or by working with an individual faculty member. In some programs, a more formal research apprenticeship is offered. Normally, a Master's thesis or Master's project develops from this research involvement. 

    Students who enter the program with a Master's degree that includes a research thesis are considered to have demonstrated the necessary competency. Those whose Master's degree does not include such a thesis must show research proficiency in one of the following ways: 

    • A publication, or manuscript accepted for publication, in a reputable professional journal, or
    • A major research paper, supervised by a faculty member, that receives the approval of the student's Doctoral guidance committee. A copy of the paper must be filed in the department Graduate Office after being approved. If the paper must be prepared while the student is here, credit for the work may be obtained by enrolling in PSY 890, Special Problems.


    The Master's (Plan A) thesis or (Plan B) project must be approved by the student's Master's committee and the student must pass an oral examination in defense of the thesis or project. 

    Doctoral Program

    As in the Master's program, each student's Doctoral program is developed individually in consultation with the student's Doctoral guidance committee. University regulations require that Doctoral students complete a dissertation, including an oral examination in its defense, and pass written comprehensive examinations of their major field of study. University regulations require that a student complete 24 credits of PSY 999, Dissertation Research, in conjunction with the dissertation. A student is eligible to take the comprehensive examination, which is administered by the student's Doctoral guidance committee, when the prescribed course work is substantially completed.

    The six graduate programs within our department are:


    There are several Interdepartmental Programs available to students admitted to graduate studies in psychology at the doctoral level. These include the Graduate Specialization in Infant Studies, the Neuroscience program, and the Cognitive Science program. Each of these are more fully described in another section of this web site. 

    Foreign Language Requirement

    There is no foreign language requirement for either the M.A. or Ph.D. If facility with a foreign language is needed by the student for pursuit of his or her scholarly interests, the necessary training can be included in the student's program of studies. 

    Regional Extension Centers, Evening Courses

    Graduate courses in psychology are rarely offered at Michigan State University Extension Centers. Very few courses meet in the evening and it is not possible to complete any significant part of a graduate program in psychology by taking courses in the evening or at off-campus locations.

  • Master's Forms
  • PhD Forms

    Doctoral Plan Amendment (Go to GradPlan), Handbook Section 2.2.5

    Doctoral Plan of Study Form (Go to GradPlan), Handbook Section 2.2.6

    PhD Comprehensive Exam Report, Handbook Section 2.2.8

    Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Approval, Handbook Section 2.2.9

    PhD Notification of Final Oral Exam, Handbook Section 2.2.10 Please email a short abstract to the graduate secretary or submit via the Graduate Office online request form (Grad Portal)

    PhD Record of Dissertation and Oral Examination, Handbook Section 2.2.11

    PhD Placement Report

  • Independent Study Form
  • Clinical Science Program Forms
  • Quantitative Methods and Evaluation Sciences Forms

Current Grad Information by Program

  • Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Science: Internship Information and Licensure

    Internship Information

    1. The APPIC website contains lots of helpful information including:
      1. the standardized application form that you can download and complete on your computer
      2. information about computer matching
      3. web-links to many internship sites around the country
    2. The Canadian Psychological Association has prepared an internship workbook for students that helps you plan the entire internship application process and even provides helpful tips regarding interviewing.
    3. Complete your standard application form early! Ask faculty and other students for feedback on the essay sections of the application.
    4. Meet with your guidance committee early in the fall. Your committee must approve the sites to which you are applying for internship. Complete the appropriate form and turn it in to Mindy McLouth. You cannot independently add new sites to your list-your committee must approve all selections.
    5. Students must apply to APA accredited internship sites, as an APA accredited internship is required for graduation from our program.
    6. Most students apply to 10-15 sites. Review internship materials over the summer and make your final choices by early September. There is a copy of the APPIC Directory of Internship Sites in the Psychological Clinic. Also, Mindy McLouth has a list of internships that our former students have taken. If you have questions about a particular site, you might want to contact one of these students.
    7. Don't assume that the Director of Clinical Training (DCT) knows you are applying for internship. Students sometimes do not complete their dissertation proposals in time to apply. Keep the DCT posted as to the progress of your proposal and the date of the proposal defense.
    8. Please give a copy of your application materials to the DCT as soon as these are finished. There are sections of the application that the DCT must complete.

    Internship Application Guidelines

    Letters of recommendation from all recommenders will be considered confidential. Students should ask their recommenders to submit their letters of recommendation online. If recommenders are unable to do so, ask your recommenders to submit their letters to Mindy McLouth (

    Internship Materials: Key Due Dates for 2019/2020

    Oct 1st: Date by which student satisfactorily defends dissertation proposal and passes both components of the comprehensive examination


    Oct 11th: Date by which the student has dissertation proposal signed by committee 


    Oct 11th: Date by which student opens the portal to the APPIC application for internship. Student must enter the APPIC part II Form and supporting materials so that the DCT can approve and sign off on the submission


    Feb 7th, 2020: Deadline for submission of rank order list for phase I of the match


    Feb 21st, 2020: APPIC Phase Match Day - Results of Phase I of the Match will be released to applicants, training directors, and DCTs of academic programs. 


    The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) is the alliance of state, provincial, and territorial agencies responsible for the licensure and certification of psychologists throughout the United States and Canada. The impetus for its founding was to create and maintain a standardized written Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and to create mobility for licensees. ASPPB’s mission is to assist its member boards in protecting the public.

    Today, in addition to creating the EPPP, ASPPB acts as a voice for those responsible for the regulation of the practice of psychology. ASPPB resources can be best understood within the five aspects of the ASPPB Mission Statement: 1. Credentialing, Examinations and Assessment; 2. Ethics and Discipline; 3. Regulatory, Professional and Legislative Issues; 4. Mutual Recognition of Standards; and 5. Professional Relations. 

    ASPPB generates a number of publications to aid psychology students in preparing for licensure and maintains an on-line presence at The site lists contact information for all 62 member boards, including links to their web sites.

    Of direct relevance to students and faculty are ASPPB’s documents created to facilitate successful completion of the EPPP, and/or to provide more information about the EPPP. Visit to locate and review frequently asked questions for candidates, retired EPPP exam questions (including an answer key), practice exams, and much more.

  • Quantitative Methods and Evaluation Sciences Concentration

    Who is Eligible for the QMES Concentration? 

    The QMES Concentration is open only to psychology graduate students.  To be eligible, students must be currently enrolled in a MSU Ph.D. program or masters-to-Ph.D. program.  Students will need to apply for admission to the QMES Concentration by submitting an application to the Concentration Chairperson. 

    To earn a Concentration in Quantitative Methodology and Evaluation Science, students must:

    1. Complete two prerequisite courses (PSY 815 & PSY 818)
    2. Submit copies of the QMES enrollment form to Julie Detwiler and the QMES chairperson
    3. Complete three advanced training courses (see list below)
    4. Maintain a GPA of 3.9 for these five courses together (i.e., 4 of 5 courses with grade = 4.0 and at most one course with grade = 3.5)
    5. Submit copies of the Student QMES Project form to both Julie Detwiler and the QMES chairperson
    6. Complete a student development project under the supervision of two members of the QMES faculty (see description below).

    Prerequisite courses: 

    • Students must complete PSY 815, Quantitative Research Design and Analysis in Psychology, and PSY 818, Psychometric Theory and Test Construction and must receive a grade of 4.0 in both classes prior to applying for the QMES Concentration. 
    • Students who have taken equivalent courses and received a 4.0 in those courses may request a waiver of the prerequisites from the QMES Chairperson.

    Advanced training courses: 

    • Students must complete three additional courses for the QMES Concentration in advanced quantitative and evaluative methods.
    • Two of these three courses must focus on advanced quantitative statistical techniques. The third course can focus on either advanced research methods or quantitative methods. 
    • Courses completed for the QMES concentration cannot be used to fulfill other program requirements for the student’s regular Ph.D. program.
    • Courses taken from other departments must be approved by the QMES concentration chairperson.
    • QMES eligible courses are typically offered on a revolving schedule as sections of PSY 992 in topical areas such as:

    v  Applied research methods

    v  Categorical data analysis

    v  Computer programming for behavioral scientists

    v  Dyadic data analysis

    v  Dynamic systems

    v  General linear model

    v  Longitudinal data analysis

    v  Measurement

    v  Meta-analysis

    v  Mixed methods approaches

    v  Multilevel Modeling

    v  Multivariate design & data analysis

    v  Network analysis

    v  Program evaluation

    v  Research Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience

    v  Structural equations modeling

    Student Development Project:

    In addition to the required QMES concentration course work, students must conduct an independent project on a topic reflecting their interests in quantitative methods and/or evaluation science.  This project can be done at any time once the student has enrolled in the QMES concentration, but must not overlap with requirements of the student’s primary Ph.D. program.  One member of the QMES faculty must supervise the proposed project and a second QMES member must serve as a consulting advisor to the project. 

    The student must submit a written proposal that outlines the goals of the project, methods, timelines, and deliverables to the two QMES faculty (a proposal meeting is not required).  Both QMES faculty members must formally approve the project before the student can begin work. 

    The final product must be approved in writing by both QMES faculty (a defense is not required).  The approved final project must be filed with the QMES Concentration Chairperson.   

    Options for the student development project

    Scholarly paper

    For this option, students will write a first-authored paper on or using an advanced/sophisticated quantitative or evaluative method.  The paper can be in collaboration with QMES faculty and should be publishable in a top-tier substantive or methodological journal in the psychological sciences.

    Professional practice

    For this option, students will conduct a field-based consultation project in program evaluation or quantitative methods under the supervision of the QMES faculty. QMES faculty will attend at least one meeting with the field consultation group.

    Undergraduate teaching

    For this option, students will teach a quantitative methods or evaluation science course (e.g., PSY 295) with a structured format including: syllabus, readings, supplemental materials, homework assignments, presentation materials, lecture notes, examinations, and instructor reflection of each lecture experience.  QMES faculty members will also attend at least one lecture and provide developmental feedback.

Graduate Student Resources

Codes of Conduct

  • Graduate Student Handbook
  • Plagiarism

    Ethics for Psychologists Training in Applied Settings

    During your graduate career at Michigan State University many of you will provide services for individuals and/or groups in applied social settings; such as social service organizations, schools, and clinics. Furthermore, you may conduct research in these applied settings. When we go out into the community, we wear many hats: psychologist, researcher, service provider, ambassador from MSU, and scientist - to name a few. It is important to be aware of the various ethical issues that arise in and out of the lab; especially when graduate students are in the professional position to provide services to individuals in the community. In the "links" section of this website you will find a link to the ethical code of the American Psychological Association, as well as links to APAGS (American Psychological Association of Graduate Students) for information about ethical guidelines for psychology graduate students working in the community.

    Misrepresentation, Falsification, and Fabrication of Research Data

    The discipline of Psychology is built upon the research findings of its member scientists. As an aspiring member of this discipline, the integrity of your research activities is absolutely crucial to the health of Psychology. Since falsified data, bogus analyses, intentional misrepresentations of method or findings, and other unethical behavior sullies an entire field, the penalties are extremely harsh. You and your colleagues must strive to be absolutely honest and transparent in the research process. The University is also concerned about this issue, since unethical research activities also tarnish the reputation of the host institution.

    There are many things at stake if dishonest research activities are discovered. Certainly, a guilty individual will suffer grave consequences to their career. But beyond that, the University may also endure some negative consequences. Scientists and professionals who had nothing to do with the dishonesty could find their reputations questioned as they apply for research funding or submit papers for publication. The fallout from these kinds of events is widespread and long-lasting.

    You should expect that your faculty research mentor will be involved with your research to the degree that they can feel comfortable in the integrity of your data, analyses, and conclusions. If you or any of your colleagues, suspect research fraud, you are obligated to share your concerns with an appropriate authority. Often the first step is to confront the offender themselves. However, it may also be appropriate to approach other faculty or administrative personnel about your concerns.

    Familiarize yourself with the Psychology Graduate Student Handbook and the University's Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities. These outline your rights and responsibilities as a graduate student. The University also holds seminars and workshops on various aspects of academic integrity; attending these is informative and helpful in your professional development. While such issues initially appear unambiguous, transgression can occur if you are not aware of the guidelines and expectations.

    Within psychology, our professional standards are set by the American Psychological Association. You are expected to adhere to these standards, so familiarizing yourself with these will make decision-making in a rough spot easier.

    Read the University's Committee for Research Involving Human Subjects (UCRIHS) policies regarding the conduct of research. Since your Master's and Dissertation may use humans, it's a great idea to be familiar with policies and requirements regarding research. Also, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) describes overarching legal and policy standards to which we as researchers are held. The UCRIHS website has a link to a HIPAA orientation and exam, as well as information about HIPAA and its application to your research. Give yourself enough time to get accustomed to these laws! Learning what does and does not apply to you can sometimes be time-consuming and difficult.

    If you have any questions regarding your research, ASK YOUR RESEARCH ADVISOR. Much of what you will learn IS NOT IN THE CLASSROOM, BUT WILL BE LEARNED IN THE FIELD. It is your responsibility to learn about all applicable policies and standards!

    Cheating on Examinations

    The subject of cheating on examinations is taken much more seriously in graduate school than you might be used to in college. Consequences for integrity infractions can likely include expulsion. As a graduate student in the Department of Psychology you make an implicit promise "to conduct yourself in a scrupulously honest and upright way" (see MSU Psychology Graduate Handbook, sect. 3.8). On the surface, it seems easy to avoid cheating. However, the definition of cheating reaches beyond a simple definition of copying answers from other students and is often ambiguous. It is ultimately your responsibility as a student to clearly understand the parameters between misconduct / dishonesty and acceptable collaboration.

    The College of Social Sciences maintains several good websites regarding cheating on examinations. Web addresses for these sources are provided below. These sites provide definitions of cheating, descriptions of how to avoid being suspected of cheating, as well as what to do when suspected of misconduct. Unfortunately, these sites are maintained for undergraduate audiences and therefore are of limited use for graduate students. Nevertheless it is important to consult these sites regarding basic definitions of cheating.

    During graduate school you will be working closely with your colleagues in research as well as in your coursework. Collaboration with peers is often times encouraged by faculty. However, the amount of acceptable collaboration in the completion of course assignments can vary, depending upon the instructor of the course. In order to protect yourself from accidentally stepping across the line, you should assume that collaboration in the completion of all assignments in prohibited unless expressly stated otherwise by the course instructor. In addition, you should not take any liberties in assuming that parameters of acceptable collaboration as defined by one faculty member or teaching assistant are the same for others.

    Definitions of academic dishonesty are sometimes included in course syllabi, however too often this area is ignored and assumed to be understood by students. Although it is the responsibility of all members of the academic community to maintain the integrity of the Department as well as the University through providing reasonable safeguards against misconduct, you are ultimately held responsible for your own actions. You should therefore be active in establishing your clear understanding of the parameters of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Ask the course instructor about any questions you might have so that you do not find yourself in a position where you must defend yourself against allegations of misconduct.

    What happens if you are accused of cheating?

    You should avoid becoming angry and approach the instructor in a calm and respectful manner. If you believe that you have been wrongfully accused, take notes on evidence that the instructor might cite against you. If applicable, you might cite witnesses who may be able to vouch for your innocence. It is the responsibility and right of the instructor to decide whether or not you have committed an infraction. Depending upon the instructor's judgment, he / she may assign you a failing grade in the course or the assignment in question. In addition, the instructor may notify the Department Chair if he / she believes further action is warranted. However, if you do not agree with the decision made, you may contact the Department Chairperson to appeal your case and, if applicable, a department level hearing board can be established to review your case (see Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities, Article 5).

    In addition, if you feel that your rights to due process have been / are being violated you may consult the University Ombudsman for help. If the situation develops beyond that, you should be aware that free legal services are provided for graduate students by both ASMSU and COGS.


    As we have entered the information age, some forms of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, have become a much larger problem in the academic community. The responsibility to avoid and prevent plagiarism involves the students, faculty, and administrators of an academic institution.

    Plagiarism is both a simple and complex issue that is faced in the academic and legal realms of much of western society. The American Psychological Association, whose ideals we uphold, provides the following information regarding what is and is not plagiarism.

    Quotation marks must be used when making a direct quote, and paraphrasing requires citation. Plagiarism includes not only the words and structure of an author, but also their ideas. While these ideas may be sometimes difficult to reference, if you know a source, be it an article or personal communication, you must cite. (American Psychological Association, 1995).

    Perhaps the main goal of avoiding plagiarism is making it as easy as possible for a reader to acquire your sources and track down the information you used. (Academic Misconduct & Student Misconduct, 2002).

    Plagiarism is a serious issue that can be both accidental and deliberate. Even when an individually accidentiallyplagiarizes (e.g., paraphrasing incorrectly, or poor note-taking) it can be considered academic misconduct. When an individual is aware that they are plagiarizing and there is a malicious, premeditated intent to deceive, it is considered academic dishonesty.

    Most of the academic community, including MSU, makes no distinction between academic misconduct and academic dishonesty. Ignorance is not an acceptable defense of plagiarism.

    Some plagiarism facts.

    • In many definitions, including the APA's, you will find that it is not considered plagiarism to state common knowledge without a citation. However, definitions of common knowledge vary. BEWARE. It is often best to cite anyway, this saves you the risk of an accusation of plagiarism (Regents of the University of California, 2001).
    • It is also possible to plagiarize yourself. If you reuse a paper, or parts of a paper, without appropriate consent of the instructor it is STILL PLAGIARISM. In graduate school you should attempt to learn more, and this is not done by repeating your work over and over. Further, in the academic community your publications have value. If you plagiarize yourself, you are generating more publications than you should (Standler, 2000).
    • While this is not a website dedicated to correct citation, here are some tips when quoting and paraphrasing:
      • To avoid problems in paraphrasing, use quote marks around distinct words in a passage taken from another author. It also helps to make reference to the author in the first sentence of a paragraph. The information flows better and you do not need to cite that author at the end of the paragraph (Owl, 2003).
      • Another option is to avoid paraphrasing at all. After reading your source, write about it from memory and check back later for accuracy of information (Van Bamer, 1996)
      • Do not make direct quotes unless there is a good reason. According to Triveldi & Williams (2002), some of the good reasons to make a direct quote are:
        1. To develop a step in your argument
        2. To present a striking or memorable phrase
        3. To provide a strong, specific example
        4. To introduce a claim open to interpretation
        5. To summarize an author's main points.

    There are many useful places to find information regarding plagiarism. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to avoid academic misconduct; always ask your professor. Do NOT rely solely on information given by friends or classmates. Your professors are here to help you and guide you. Do not be afraid to ask for clarification.

  • Ethical Conduct of Research

    Whether you conduct research with animals or humans, there are ethical principles and federal and university regulations, guidelines and policies that direct your ethical treatment of your research participants. Some of the ethical aspects of research conducted with human beings include an individual’s right to choose to participate in the study. (This is the focus of the new requirement for informed consent).  Informed consent requires the participant’s complete understanding of the research procedures and the risks and possible outcomes of the research. Researchers must also demonstrate respect for the participant’s culture and race and exercise fairness in the selection of research participants. Researchers should have the welfare of the research participant as a goal of any study.

    Social Science/Behavioral/ Education Institutional Review Board (SIRB)

    Much of the research you do with human subjects must be reviewed by the Social Science/Behavioral/Education Institutional Review Board (SIRB) prior to its commencement (See MSU HRPP Manual Section 4-1). The MSU Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) has a comprehensive online manual on MSU’s human research protection policies with which you must be familiar, along with useful forms, templates and FAQs. You may find these materials on its website.

    The criteria SIRB employs to evaluate research include:

    • Informed consent procedures that guarantee prospective human subjects understand the nature of the research and can knowledgeably and voluntarily decide whether to participate.
    • Risks are minimized and reasonable in relationship to the likely benefits of the research, meaning that the risks to a person posed by their participation is justified by the anticipated direct benefits to them, if any, and by the indirect benefits to society by the importance of the knowledge the study is likely to produce. Risk refers to the magnitude and probability of harm or injury (physical, psychological, social, or economic) resulting from participation in a research study. SIRB expects studies to bear a minimal risk for their participants.
    • Just selection of participants, to make sure that the burdens and benefits of research participation are justly distributed.
    • Privacy and confidentiality, meaning that appropriate procedures are in place to protect individuals’ privacy and that will maximize protection of the confidentiality of data.
    • Monitoring and observation, which implies the necessity of constant monitoring of the recruitment of participants, and the collection and analysis of data to assure the appropriateness of the research, its design, and the protection of the participants' rights.
    • Additional safeguards, to protect individuals who may be vulnerable to coercion or undue influence to participate in the study.

    Cases of non-compliance (cases in which investigator(s) failed to fulfill the requirements set by the University and federal regulations protecting human subjects) or deviate from approved study procedures without SIRB’s prior approval is considered a violation of Michigan State University's Federal Wide Assurance (FWA-00004556) for the protection of human subjects. MSU and federal policies stipulate that non-compliance must be reported to SIRB immediately. SIRB will investigate all cases of non-compliance. SIRB may require research be suspended during the investigation. The investigator(s) may submit a written explanation of the events that may end up constituting non-compliance. Investigator(s) may also be asked to meet with SIRB to discuss the case. If SIRB decides that non-compliance took place in the study, SIRB will determine its seriousness and take appropriate corrective actions, which can include disciplinary sanction.

    Use of Animal Research Subjects

    The use of animals in research, teaching, and outreach activities is subject to state and federal laws and guidelines. University policy specifies that:

    • all animals under University care (that is, involved in projects under the aegis or sponsorship of the University) will be treated humanely;
    • prior to their inception, all animal projects receive approval by the All University Committee on Animal Use and Care (AUCAUC);
    • MSU will comply with state and federal regulations regarding animal use and care.
  • Checklist: Advisor - Advisee
  • Checklist: Supervisor - Research Assistant
  • Checklist: Instructor - Teaching Assistant