Social Psychology Doctoral Requirements

We would like our graduates to be creative, productive social psychologists. This requires a good background in psychology, a broad knowledge of social psychology, a detailed acquaintance with some special area in social psychology, skill in teaching, a sound understanding of methods of collecting and analyzing data (both field and laboratory methods), a concern for application of theory and methods to real social problems, and a continuing involvement in research and publication on important theoretical and practical matters.

It is our belief that if creative as well as competent scientists are to evolve, the specific form in which these very general requirements are fulfilled should be maximally responsive to the interests and talents of each student. We have therefore developed a highly individualized structure for the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University of Kansas. Programwide, the only requirements that have been retained are (1) continuous involvement in research, (2) the Department's two-year rule for the completion of the M.A. degree for students entering without an M.A., and (3) the University Graduate School requirements (see addendum stating these). All additional requirements are tailored to the goals and needs of the individual student. Each student works together with a three-member faculty committee to develop a plan of study (or "contract") for his or her years of residence at the University.

This contract states the general objectives of the student's graduate work, including the kind of career the student envisions and the types of training he or she seeks in order to be prepared to pursue that career. It also specifies the kinds of courses that will be taken (in related fields, as well as in psychology), the kinds of research experiences planned, the teaching assignments the student would prefer, and the sequence of benchmarks (examinations, publications, papers, courses designed and taught, etc.) by which the student, the committee, and the program faculty may evaluate the student's progress. Naturally, the contract is likely to be more specific for the immediate future than for the long run. It is subject to revision and elaboration by the student and the committee, as specified below.

The Contract Committee

The chairperson of the three-member contract committee may be any member of the Psychology Department. He or she is selected, subject to agreement to serve, by the student. The other two committee members are selected by the Director of the Social Psychology Program in consultation with the student and the committee chair. Criteria for selection of these members include: (a) representation on the committee of faculty with diverse interests and theoretical positions, (b) the distribution of committee responsibilities approximately equally across the Program faculty, and (c) assurance that two committee members are members of the Social Program faculty and one member is not a member of the Program faculty. Membership on committees may be changed upon agreement of the involved faculty and the Program Director, after consultation with the student.

Initial Contract

During the first year each new student is responsible for working out an initial contract that is satisfactory to all members of the committee. The plan should specify (a) the long range goals of the student; (b) that aspect of social psychology he or she expects to study intensively and the collateral areas in psychology and other fields which he or she intends to pursue; (c) the manner in which he or she proposes to meet the research skill requirement; (d) the specific courses, research projects, and other activities that will be undertaken; and (e) the manner in which he or she will demonstrate mastery of the material studied and skills sought. An approximate and realistic time schedule should be included, so that the committee members may assess the student's orderly progress toward the Ph.D. degree. All committee members and the student should sign the initial contract, and a signed copy should be placed on file with the Program Director. The contract will be the student's plan of study, subject to revision and elaboration by the mutual agreement of the student and all committee members. It is the student's responsibility to keep the contract on file updated and accurate.

It is hoped that serious disagreements between a student and his or her committee will be rare. The purpose of the committee is to help the student develop a program of work and study that will promote the achievement of the student's own goals, so the student-committee relationship should be harmonious and cooperative. Nevertheless, neither the student nor a member of the committee should feel constrained to sign a contract that he or she finds unsatisfactory. Should an impasse develop, the Social Psychology staff, including the student representatives, will constitute a board of appeals to reconcile such disagreements as exist.

Enrollment of Entering Students

Before establishment of a contract, the courses taken by entering students will be worked out with the Program Director. Courses will be selected that will (a) strengthen a student's background in social psychology, (b) develop his or her research and data analysis skills, and (c) lay the groundwork for the individualized plan of study. A typical program for the first year enrollment of a new student might be as follows: Fall semester--Advanced Social Psychology I (Psychology 774), Experimental Research Methods in Social Psychology (Psychology 818), a course in statistics, and as the student's schedule permits, whatever other course(s) appear to be needed or desired by the student. Spring semester--Advanced Social Psychology II (Psychology 775); Field Research Methods in Social Psychology (Psychology 819), another course in statistics, and whatever other course(s) appear to be needed or desired by the student. Although none of the courses mentioned above is formally required, it is expected that a student will typically need and want to take the Advanced Social Psychology I and II series, the Research Methods series, and a number of statistics courses--unless the student has already taken equivalent courses. It is also expected that a student will typically take as many of these courses as possible during the first year. Exceptions to these expectations may, however, arise. Each student's needs and desires will be considered on an individual basis.

Annual Progress Report and Evaluation of Students

Students will have oral examinations over their M.A. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation and will have an oral comprehensive exam (see addendum on University Graduate School requirements). In addition to these requirements, each contract is to contain provisions for evaluation as the committee and the student deem appropriate. Each student is required to submit a progress report to the Program Director at least once a year (due date: January 15 for all post-first-year students; April 15 for first-year students). The faculty of the Program will meet in late January or early February each year to examine and evaluate students and their progress. Progress will be summarized at these meetings by the student's contract committee chair.


Graduate School Requirements for Graduate Students in Social Psychology. To quote the Graduate School Catalog: "It is the student's responsibility to become thoroughly acquainted with all requirements for the degree, both the general requirements and those that are specific to the student's own department and school" (p. 21). Please don't consider what follows to be an exhaustive statement; it's only an overview. See the Graduate School Catalog (especially pp. 21-25) and Department graduate secretary for more detailed information.

Master of Arts

It is a Department rule that the requirements for the M.A. degree--including (a) 30 hours of graduate course credit (no more than 6 of which may be in courses offered by other departments), (b) a thesis based on empirical research, and (c) an oral examination--must be completed within a period of two years. If these requirements have not been met within the time period, the student must submit a petition detailing the basis for a requested extension of time to the Department through the Program Director.

Doctor of Philosophy

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements for the Ph.D. degree include: (a) completion of the residence requirement, (b) an M.A. degree or equivalent, (c) satisfactory completion of a research skills requirement, (d) satisfactory completion of a comprehensive oral examination, (e) a dissertation based on empirical research, (f) an oral examination at which the dissertation is successfully defended, and (g) continuous enrollment following completion of the comprehensive oral examination, including summer sessions, until all requirements for the degree are completed.

Program Time Constraints

The following statement is excerpted from the Catalog of the Graduate School (pp. 22-23):

Minimum Tenure

The student must spend three full academic years, or the bona fide equivalent thereof, in resident study at this or some other approved university, including the time spent in attaining the master's degree. Resident study at less than full time requires a correspondingly longer period, but the requirement is not to be measured merely in hours of enrollment. Since the Graduate School does not prescribe a minimum number of hours for the degree, no transfer of credits is appropriate. However, departments do take relevant prior graduate work into consideration in setting up programs of study leading to the doctorate.

Residence Requirement

Two semesters, which may include one summer session, must be spent in resident study at the University of Kansas. During this period of residence, the student must be involved full time in academic or professional pursuits, which may include an appointment for teaching or research if the teaching/research is directed specifically toward the student's degree objectives. The student must be enrolled in a minimum of six (6) credit hours per semester, and the increased research involvement must be fully supported and documented by the dissertation supervisor as contributing to the student's dissertation or program objectives. Research work must be performed under the direct supervision of the major advisor if on campus, or with adequate liaison if off campus.

Maximum Tenure

After being admitted to doctoral programs at the University of Kansas, doctoral degree students complete all degree requirements in eight years. In cases in which compelling circumstances recommend a one-year extension of the normal eight-year limit, the Graduate Division has authority to grant the one-year extension on the written advice of the dissertation committee. In cases where more than nine years are indicated, the appropriate appeals body of the college, school, or division considers petitions for extensions and, where evidence of continuous progress, currency of knowledge, and other reasons are compelling, may grant further extensions. In some cases, departments may have more stringent time restrictions. Students should inquire about the policy in effect in the department in which they plan to study.

A student in any of the above categories may petition the Graduate Division through the department for a leave of absence during either the pre- or post-comprehensive period to pursue full-time professional activities related to the student's doctoral program and longrange professional goals. Leaves of absence may also be granted because of illness or other emergency. Ordinarily a leave of absence is granted for one year, with the possibility of extension upon request. After an absence of five years, however, a doctoral aspirant or candidate loses status as such and, in order to continue, must apply for readmission to the program and to the Graduate Division.

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