Formal Requirements

Article Index


The Qualifying Examination


1. The Qualifying Examination Committee

 The committee will be composed by the advisor and the student, and is normally chaired by the advisor. One member may come from outside the membership of the Psychology Graduate Faculty, where this reflects the interdisciplinary character of the student’s program. Committee membership must be approved by the Area Coordinator, Vice Chair for Graduate Studies, and the Department Chair.


2. The Qualifying Examination

 The qualifying examination evaluates the student’s ability to integrate his or her specialty with broader interests in psychology. Each of the 3 committee members other than the advisor will submit 1 or 2 topics (and a reading list), i.e., a total of 3 to 6 topics. These will be presented to the student within 2 weeks of the committee’s formation or of its initial meeting. Before receiving the topic/s, it is the student’s responsibility to discuss with each committee member potential topics that integrate the student’s specialty with concepts from some selected core of behavioral neuroscience, in order to identify the topic/s and reading list.

 At the end of 3 months’ (maximum) preparation for all topics, the student will take a closed book, sit-down exam consisting of three questions (each committee member submits to the advisor one question related to the reading list). The advisor will administer the exam by presenting the student with one question per day for 3 consecutive days. A maximum of 4 hours will be allowed to answer each question. The Area Coordinator will monitor the student’s progress to ensure completion of the exam on schedule.


3. Grading the Qualifying Examination

 Each committee member will grade the student’s responses to all questions on the examination. One week will be provided for grading. If the student fails the exam, the retake (a different exam) will be taken within one month after notification of the failing grade.


4. Schedule for Initiating the Qualifying Examination Process

 The Qualifying process, including the approval of a committee, should be initiated as soon as possible after defending the Master’s thesis, and should be completed by the end of the 7th semester. Students admitted with a Master’s degree will complete the process no later than the end of the 5th semester.