The following guidelines present a description of the graduate program.
Advising Committees and Annual Program Planning Sessions
There are a number of processes through which students and faculty collaborate concerning each student's graduate education. This includes decisions about course work, field work, assistantship, informal experiences, etc.
Planning sessions are scheduled at least once a year. The goal of the sessions is to provide a proactive forum for student-faculty interaction concerning individual student's plans for and progress in graduate education. Every effort will be made to include the chairperson of the student's research committee in these meetings. Students will have the opportunity to invite other faculty members to attend. Areas to be considered in these meetings include: career goals, intervention in the community, research skills; course work; financial support; and other educational experiences.
Master's Guidance Committee
Upon entry into the program, an incoming Masters level student is assigned a faculty member as temporary advisor. During the second semester, the student must form a three person Master's Guidance Committee of at least two regular faculty members from the Department of Psychology. The chair of this committee must be a member of the Ecological-Community Psychology Interest Group. This is done by discussing the formation of this committee with the chair of one's committee and then involving two other faculty. Once this committee is formed, the chair of the Master's Guidance Committee will officially become the student.s advisor. The student and their Guidance Committee will jointly develop an Master.s Plan of Study consisting of courses, seminars, research, and community experience. The Master's Plan of Study form must be submitted to the Graduate Office by the end of the second semester of graduate study. The Master.s Guidance Committee may waive or enhance the course requirements noted below.
Doctoral Guidance Committee and Program of Study
For students admitted to the program with a Master's degree, they will also be assigned a faculty member as temporary advisor. During the second semester following the completion of the Master's (for students admitted with a Bachelor's degree) or in the second semester following program entry (for the student admitted with a Master.s degree), the student will work closely with their chair to prepare a Doctoral Plan of Study. It will then be presented to their Doctoral Guidance Committee for approval.
For students admitted with a Bachelor's degree, it is recognized that the Doctoral Guidance Committee cannot be formed until the Master's level work (courses and thesis) are completed. However, given that Master's level course work is often completed by early in the second year and the thesis is typically not completed by then, students will begin taking courses which will ultimately be on their Doctoral Plan of Study before the Doctoral Guidance Committee is formally assembled. In this common situation, students are encouraged to consult closely with their chair in planning their course work throughout their graduate careers.
The Doctoral Guidance Committee will consist of at least four faculty members (at least three from the Department of Psychology). Membership on the committee may be identical or different from the Master's Guidance Committee. The chair of this committee must be a member of the Ecological-Community Interest Group. The committee may have a faculty member representing the student's other area of interest (e.g. minor or cognate). Again, committee membership and Plan of Study must be filed with the Graduate Office (room 202). The Doctoral Guidance Committee oversees the administration of the comprehensive exam. The Doctoral Plan of Study should include any of the required courses that were not completed for the Master's degree. The Doctoral Guidance Committee may waive or enhance the course requirements noted below.
Formal Course Requirements
All students will be expected to acquire a sound background in psychology and social science relevant to their chosen problem area. Specific required course work for all students is as follows: Quantitative Research Design and Analysis in Psychology (PSY 815), Psychometric Theory and Test Construction (PSY 818) or equivalent; Ecological-Community Psychology (PSY 870), History and Theory in Ecological-Community Psychology (PSY 871), Field Research in Psychology (PSY 872), Community Interventions (PSY 873 and PSY 992),and Models of Community Change (PSY 992). Students are also required to enroll in 2 Advanced Topics in Ecological and Community Psychology (PSY 970). These requirements may be met at the Master's or Doctoral level.
Area of Specialization and Breadth
Ph.D. students are required to become competent in an area outside of Ecological-Community Psychology and to become a multi-disciplinary scholar. This requirement has two components. The first involves a minor or a cognate. Each student must take either a minor or a cognate. A minor involves taking 12 semester credits in some other area of psychology outside of Ecological-Community (e.g., Industrial/Organizational, Social/Personality, etc.). A cognate involves taking 12 semester credits in a department other than Psychology or taking 12 credits organized around a theme (e.g., measurement, youth issues) in more than one department. The Applied Developmental Science sequence offers one such example of such an interdisciplinary cognate. The second component involves breadth. If the student elects a minor in Psychology, they are required to take six credits outside of Psychology. If they elect a cognate, they are required to take at least six additional credits within Psychology, not more than three of which may be in Ecological-Community.
Students must also meet departmental course requirements or other requirements agreed to by the student his or her committee. The student may also make a case to their committee to waive any of the above requirements.
The Sequence of Course work
During the first year the student will enroll in PSY 815, 870, 871 & 992 in the Fall Semester and PSY 872 & 873 in the Spring semester. Following the first year in graduate school, the sequence of course work will be determined by the relevant Plan of Study.
The primary goal of the Master's thesis is for the student to begin gaining experience in conducting community research. A wide variety of topics, issues, theoretical perspectives and methods may be used in the Master's thesis. The scope of the Master's thesis may vary considerably across students, however a number of benchmarks are relevant. First, the thesis could begin as early as the end of the student's first year in the program. It is the goal of the program that the thesis be finished by early in the student.s third year. Second, while the methods may also vary across students, it should be kept in mind that a reasonable thesis project will be accomplished within a 12 month time frame from proposal acceptance to thesis completion. In this regard, data collection should not extend beyond a six month period. Third, the research methodology should be driven by the student's research question and the methodological scope (e.g., sample, numbers of constructs or variables, measures, sites) of the project should be reasonable given the six month data collection time frame and resources available to the student.
The topic area for the thesis may be driven by the student.s area of interest or may involve the student taking advantage of ongoing projects or existing data sets. In combination with the dissertation, the Master's thesis should build skills relevant to the student.s career goals. The thesis is carried out in a community setting. It may include a needs assessment, intervention, survey, longitudinal data collection, systems analysis, and use either qualitative or quantitative methodology. It is often desirable, but not required, that the thesis serve as a prelude to the dissertation in terms of topic area, theoretical perspective, setting, or methodology.
Master's thesis committee. The thesis committee is comprised of at least three faculty. Two of the three must be members of the Psychology Department. The Chair must be a member of the Ecological Interest Group. Three of the committee members must be regular faculty (as defined by the Graduate Student Handbook. There may be additional committee members.
Master's thesis process. Procedurally, the thesis is done working closely with a chair and two additional members of the thesis committee. The student prepares a proposal working closely with the chair. The proposal includes an introduction, literature review, and proposed methodology. After the student and the chair are satisfied with the proposal, it is distributed to the other thesis committee members. A proposal defense/thesis planning meeting is then held. A defense meeting usually consists of a brief oral presentation by the student followed by questions from the committee. The conclusion of the meeting involves reaching consensus as to precisely how the thesis will be completed. This often involves revision of the research proposal. Once the committee has approved the proposal, the student executes the proposed research using faculty as resources as needed. Once the Master's project is completed, a Master's thesis document is prepared by the student working closely with the chair. This may involve several drafts. After the student and the chair are satisfied with the thesis, it is distributed to the other committee members for review. A final defense of the Master.s thesis is then held. In terms of process, the final defense is similar to the proposal defense. Please consult the Graduate Student Handbook) for the necessary forms (filed with the Graduate Office) to mark your progress on your thesis.
Goals. Comprehensives in Ecological/Community Psychology have two aims. First, comprehensives provide an opportunity for the student to integrate knowledge and skills and/or develop a particular skill or competency about his/her professional aims. The comprehensives are designed to be individually tailored in format to allow for maximum fit between the mode of the comprehensives and the style, needs, and goals of the student. Second, comprehensives provide the opportunity for the student to be evaluated on his/her readiness to complete the doctoral degree. Students will be evaluated on the degree to which they are competent to perform as independent scholars. In short, the comprehensives aim to provide students with additional work in both the breadth and depth of the field. The comprehensives are designed to insure that all students know Community/Ecological Psychology in general and how it applies to their specific sub-field of interest. The philosophy of the Ecological/Community Psychology Program is that every attempt will be made to have students complete the comprehensives successfully. It is specifically not the intent to use the comprehensives to remove students from the program.
Areas to be Covered. Comprehensive exams can be accomplished through a variety of formats. It is the intention that the same areas of knowledge will be assessed by each comprehensive option. In the interest of specifying the areas to be covered by all options, the non-exhaustive list below is provided. These areas are not mutually exclusive, but represent broadly defined domains. While specific areas may receive differential attention based on individual student needs and educational goals, the evaluation standards for all students and all options are the same. In other words, all students will be held accountable for demonstrating the same knowledge, though the format of the comprehensives may vary.
General Format for Administering the Comprehensive.
The student will pass the comprehensives if he/she receives at least 75% "pass" ratings. The student will fail the comprehensive if he/she receives more than 25% "fail" ratings. If he/she does not receive 75% pass ratings and not more than 25% fail ratings, he/she may do revisions. For example, if the student selected the review paper option, he/she would receive a single rating from each guidance committee member and need to receive passing ratings from at least three-quarters of the committee members in order to pass outright. If the student selected the written test, he/she would need to receive pass ratings on three-quarters of the ratings given. In this instance, it would be expected that each committee member would rate all four answers resulting in at least 16 ratings and requiring 12 pass ratings. If revision is an option, the student may elect to rewrite only the parts of the comprehensives necessary to attain 75%. If successful, the student would then pass the comprehensives.
At the completion of the comprehensives, the student may request a second meeting with his/her chair, individual faculty, or the committee as a group for the purposes of discussing the comprehensives and receiving feedback.
Options for Comprehensive
The student has two options for taking the test. In the first option, on an agreed upon date, the student will receive eight questions (two from each of four committee members). During the next 48 hours, the student would prepare answers to four of the eight questions (one of each of the two submitted by each committee member chosen by the student) in a take-home format. At the end of the 48 hours, the written answers would be turned in. A strict 10 page limit (typed, double spaced, one inch margins, 12 CPI) per question applies.
In the second option, on an agreed on date, the student would receive four questions (two from each of two committee members). During the next 24 hours, he/she would prepare answers to two of the four questions (one of each of the two submitted by each committee member) in a take home format. The same page limit per question applies. At the end of the 24 hours, the answers would be turned in. After a 24-hour pause, the process would be repeated with questions from the two remaining committee members.
The final product will consist of a complete write-up of all lectures, handouts, homework assignments, tests, quizzes, exercises, evaluation procedures, etc. for the course. The write-up will include the final course syllabus and a list of all material read by the instructor to actually teach the course. It must also include copies of student evaluations. Due to scheduling demands, the course write-up may need to be turned in more than three months from the time it is proposed. In this instance, students are reminded to make proposals for teaching relatively early in their graduate careers so that they may be completed within the 24 month post-M.A. time frame.
Policy Regarding Retaking a Failed Comprehensive.
It was indicated earlier that each proposal concerning for comprehensives must specify: 1) a deadline for completion of comprehensive not to exceed three months from the time of acceptance of the proposal, 2) provisions for faculty review of drafts, and 3) contingencies in the case of a failed comprehensive that specify issues of timing and form of any retake option. All candidates who fail their first comprehensive attempt will have the opportunity to retake them. University regulations specify that if a student fails the comprehensives twice, they will not be allowed to continue graduate studies in the doctoral program.
In order to make students aware of the criteria for comprehensives, the program will keep copies of past comprehensives on file. Copies will be provided with the permission of individual students. In order to keep the file up to date, the file will be purged periodically.
Ph.D. Dissertation and Dissertation Committee
The goal of the doctoral dissertation is for the student to independently carry out community research. To form a dissertation committee, the student develops a dissertation proposal with the assistance of the faculty member chosen as chair. Membership on this committee may be identical to or different from the doctoral guidance committee. The process for proposing, completing, and defending the doctoral dissertation is identical to that described for the Master's thesis. The proposal outlines the dissertation problem and details the method. The proposal is submitted to the other potential committee members. The doctoral dissertation committee must consist of at least four faculty, three of whom are regular members of the Psychology department. The chair must be a member of Ecological-Community Interest Group. Once a committee is formed they meet to discuss with the student the final form of the dissertation. The dissertation must study the problem in its naturalistic setting. After students have completed the Ph.D. dissertation project and have written the dissertation to the satisfaction of their committee chair, the committee administers an oral examination over the dissertation material. Although not required, it is recommended that the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation should be accompanied by a formal presentation to the interest group.