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Doctoral Program

department of psychology

Application Deadline December 15

Overview

The Doctoral program is a four- to five-year, full-time, fully funded, research-oriented program that features setting up a research program, coursework, and a close relationship with a faculty advisor. The number of graduate student admitted is limited. Currently, the ratio of faculty to doctoral students is approximately 1 to 1.

Students apply to one of the Psychology Department's five areas of concentration and receive a Ph.D. degree in that area. Students may also participate in one of the department's interdisciplinary programs. One focuses on Neuroscience, the other on Affective Science. Information about the areas of concentration and interdisciplinary programs can be found in the Graduate Program Handbook.

Admissions Process

The Admissions Process is described on the Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website.

The deadline for applications is December 15. Students indicate on the application form whether they wish to be considered for the M.A. program, the Ph.D. program, or both. Students submit a personal statement about the research they wish to pursue and the faculty member with whom they would like to work, three letters of recommendation, a transcript, and GRE scores (the Psychology subject test is optional). Students are admitted to work with a particular faculty member and within one of our five areas. Please visit the concentration pages for a list of faculty members who serve as advisors in each area. Admission is selective and requires approval of the advisor and of the department's Graduate Admissions Committee.

Type of Student to be Admitted

Our doctoral program is aimed at students who intend to become research psychologists, participating in the basic search for knowledge about human beings. The focus throughout the stay at Boston College is on original research. Students also attend professional conferences.

Funding

Ph.D. students are fully funded, and tuition is waived. Students serve as either Research Assistants or Teaching Assistants during the course of the program.

Requirements

Course requirements are listed in the Graduate Program Handbook.

Advisor and Thesis Committee

Each student is accepted to work with a primary advisor. By the end of the first semester, the student, along with the advisor, selects two additional faculty members to serve on a thesis committee.

Second Year Research Project

The Ph.D. student's initial task is the production of a second-year research project. Work on this task begins on day one of the first year. During the first year, a topic is selected, background reading carried out, a research program designed and piloted, and a proposal (written much like a grant proposal) is submitted to the student's three-person committee. The proposal is defended orally in front of the committee, and must have final approval by the committee by the end of September of Year Two.

In the second year, any further pilot work needed is carried out, IRB approval is obtained, the data gathered and analyzed, and the second-year research project written and defended (by March 31 of Year Two).

The thesis reports original empirical research initiated and carried out while in our program. Students may not bring previously collected data and use these data for the thesis. Although the entire project is carried out in close collaboration with the advisor, the student should be the major contributor to the thesis. Thus the student should qualify for senior authorship on the thesis when the thesis is submitted for publication (which we strongly encourage).

The thesis is to be in the form of an article publishable in a good journal in the student's area. The evaluation of the thesis is based on the criterion of publishability - with the exception that results need not have turned out statistically significant.

Years Three, Four, and Five

The second period in your graduate program is characterized by a shift to more independent work and an even more intensive focus on research. The third year focuses on two requirements that you work on simultaneously, the third year Literature Review and the Dissertation Proposal. The fourth year focuses on dissertation research. Even more than in the first two years, however, meeting the formal requirements is the minimum. The student’s principal job is carrying out research and building up a CV.

Early in the third year, students should meet with their committee to form a tentative plan for Years Three and Four. This plan should be formalized and signed by the committee (Form 5) by December 1 of Year Three. Students are encouraged to begin pilot research for their dissertation, if they have not already done so, during the first semester of Year Three.

Five-Year Time Limit

Students must attend this program on a full-time basis. The program is designed to be completed within five years.