I. For Our Students
graduate student handbook
The staff in the main office will help you with general inquiries about the department. However, their main role is to provide support for the faculty. Thus, you are expected to do all of your own word processing, copying, mailing, phoning, etc. If your work involves research with a faculty member and this in turn requires staff assistance, such work should be submitted by the faculty member concerned. When serving as a TF, you can expect the kind of help that faculty members receive for teaching.
You register for classes after the new graduate student orientation meeting which takes place at the beginning of the semester. Registration should be completed by the end of the drop/add period in September. Student Services will charge you a late fee if you don’t register before this date.
Course schedules can be seen on the web through Agora under Course Offering Schedule. Registration can be done online as well. See the Graduate Program Assistant in McGuinn 300 if a course requires department permission.
Equipment & Rooms
Equipment (LCD projectors, laptops, etc.) can be signed out from Media Technology Services in Campion Hall (617-552-3243).
The department also has laptops and LCD projectors for graduate students and professors to use for the occasional presentation. Reserve these resources through the main office. They are available between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and cannot be loaned overnight.
Contact the main office to request room reservations.
Human Subjects Pool
The Psychology Department has a Human Subjects Pool composed of undergraduates in certain courses required for the psychology major. If you wish to use the pool, please apply through your advisor.
This pool is accessible through a software system called Sona Systems.
You get your keys in the main office. You should have a key to your lab and to the exterior building entrance for McGuinn.
All psychology journals at Boston College are at O’Neill library. Most can be accessed online.
Graduate student mailboxes are in the main office, organized alphabetically by last name. Campus mail can be left in the outgoing mail tray in the office.
Graduate students are generally housed within the labs they work for and are given shared office space for holding TA office hours.
Printing is done on the office network on the department copy machine. Contact the technology consultant for assistance setting this up.
The photocopier is located in McGuinn 329. Please be sparing and print double-sided whenever possible.
Printing in Color
A color printer is available in the main office. For permission to use it, please email your request with the document attached and the number of copies requested.
Office supplies are available in the office for use in your lab.
The Office of Student Services located in Lyons Hall mails all students a packet of information prior to arrival.
Summer Packet Information
- BC User Name and Password (used to access email & Agora)
- Obtaining your Eagle ID card prior to arrival
- Parking Passes (for a fee)
- BC Health Insurance Information
- Email account
- Registration Information
Agora, the BC online student services website, allows students to update contact information, check library books, look up student accounts, financial aid information, degree information and much more all in real time. Agora requires users to sign in with their BC username and password.
Health Coverage (GSAS)
Medical Insurance (Student Services)
Funding does not apply to B.A.-B.S./M.A. students.
Tuition and TA Stipends
Master's students typically take 15 credits per year, for a total of 30 required credits over the two-year program. Students accepted as M.A. students receive 7.5 tuition remission credits each year. The remaining tuition must be paid for by the student. (Click here for the current fees.)
All students admitted to the M.A. program are provided with some financial support in the form of a Teaching Assistantship. The other part of the support is in the form of tuition remission, as mentioned above. Students can also discuss with their advisor the possibility of a Research Assistantship, especially over the summer months, for additional financial support.
TA assignments are made by the Director of the Graduate Program and the Chair in order to make appropriate matches between TAs and courses.
Ours is a four- to five-year doctoral program, and financial support is available throughout this period. The department offers tuition remission and either research or teaching assistantships. The University also contributes to the student’s health insurance costs. Summer stipends are not guaranteed but typically provided by the research advisor through a research assistantship. Students are required to apply for outside fellowships.
First-year Ph.D. students will serve as either research assistants or teaching assistants. The typical use of time as a research assistant is to work on the collaborative research with the advisor.This may begin with assisting the advisor with his/her research but should evolve soon into the student developing a collaborative project with the advisor. The research assistantship is not to be used for clerical work unless the tasks are related to the research being carried out. (Thus students should not be expected to make copies for their advisors, for example, if these copies are unrelated to a research project.) Students are expected to spend 15-20 hours per week as research assistants.
In the remaining years students serve as teaching assistants or teaching fellows.Teaching assistantships should take about 15 hours per week on average over the semester. This means that some weeks might require only a few hours, while others (when papers or other assignments must be graded) might require many more hours. The TA workload necessarily fluctuates over the course of a semester. The professor should work with the student to be sure that on average the workload does not exceed 15 hours per week. If students are working over 15 hours per week on average, they should speak to the professor with whom they are teaching. After this, they should speak to the Graduate Program Director, if necessary.
Students TA for one to three courses per semester. The total hours will not exceed 15 hours on average per week over the semester.
Teaching Fellows (TFs) teach their own course. Students must apply to the Department Chair for the privilege of teaching their own course. There is no guarantee that the request will be granted. The needs of the student, the needs of the undergraduate curriculum, and the qualifications of the student to teach the proposed course will all be taken into account in deciding whether the student can teach the proposed course. If students do apply to serve as a TF in their fourth year, they are encouraged to apply to teach 200 and 300 level courses rather than small seminars. Having taught a broader class will probably prove more beneficial when on the job market. Teaching fellows should state BC’s policy on Academic Integrity on their syllabi and should provide a link to the website.
Fifth Year Funding
Ph.D. students who are ABD (all but dissertation) in January of their fourth year and who are making good progress in their work will be awarded a fifth year of funding if needed. ABD means all requirements are satisfied except the dissertation itself. If a student is granted a fifth year of funding, the student must, in return, serve as a TA or TF.
In Order to Receive a Stipend
In return for their stipends, masters and doctoral students serve as Research Assistants,Teaching Assistants, or Teaching Fellows. In some cases, an advanced student may have to leave the Boston area yet wish to continue on as a doctoral student. This can be done if the student has completed all course requirements and if the student’s committee agrees. However, the student cannot receive a stipend in this case because the student will not be able to serve in the capacity of RA, TA, or TF.
Service stipends checks are paid via direct deposit to students' accounts on the 16th of the month in eight installments (September, October, November, December, February, March, April, May). Taxes are withheld from this payment depending on tax forms filled out by the student. Please note that there is no check in January, so plan your expenses accordingly.
University Regulations Concerning Employment Elsewhere in University
By university regulation, full-time graduate students may not work more than 20 hours on the BC payroll. Because we expect our students to work 20 hours a week on their Research Assistantships, and 15 hours a week on their Teaching Assistantships, and because Teaching Fellowships require substantially more time, our graduate students may not be employed elsewhere in the university in addition to their Research and/or Teaching Assistantships/Fellowships.
The program we outline in this handbook assumes that the graduate student is devoting 12 months per year to research and other endeavors in the graduate program. This continuous 24/7 immersion is the ideal situation in which the student can develop a successful independent research program.
Reaching this ideal requires that students work throughout the summer (with, of course, a rest and recreation break). Graduate students receiving summer funding from Boston College are expected to have two weeks of vacation during the summer. The dates of your vacation time should be approved by your advisor in advance. If more vacation is requested and approved, the stipend is decreased by $500 per week. This applies only to those students getting money from the department. If you are being funded externally you should discuss your vacation time with your advisor.
Students and advisors should therefore discuss possibilities for securing funding to support the students’ work during the summer months. The advisor and graduate student should do everything possible to ensure that the graduate student has summer funding. The funding could come from an external research grant, an external student fellowship or internship, or some sort of funding through BC. For example, all faculty members can apply for a Summer–Fall Research Expense Grant of $2,000 or for a Research Incentive Grant of $15,000 (although the latter is more difficult to obtain). These grants may be used to support a graduate student helping to carry out the funded project, and so inclusion of a graduate student should be a top priority in applying for these grants. The project should be related to the student’s own program of research, and the work required should be as a researcher rather than as a clerk or receptionist. Of course, no one can live on $2,000 for an entire summer. BC graduate stipends provide approximately $20,000 over 9 months. Full funding for three summer months is considered $6,000. Still, every dollar helps, and partial support may be all that can be worked out. Advisors could also help students find Research Internships that provide valuable experience during the summer. The department is actively lobbying for additional sources of summer funding earmarked for graduate students.
Even with the best efforts, it is not always possible to secure summer funding for graduate students. When students are forced to seek employment off campus, they cannot be expected to devote full time, or in some cases even part-time, to their studies. Advisors and the Graduate Evaluation Committee must recognize this necessary delay in developing the student’s program. When a student can devote only part-time during the summer to studies, then every effort should be made to ensure that the available time is spent on the tasks most central to the student’s program. (Of course, at no time should graduate students be asked to serve as unpaid RAs on research projects unrelated to their doctoral requirements. They have much work to do on their own research.)
The Diversity Student Fellowship
The Graduate School has a number of fellowships for minority group students. These fellowships are renewable for a total of five years of support. Notification of this fellowship is made upon admission. Like those on standard fellowships, students on this fellowship serve as research and teaching assistants.
The Donald J. White Teaching Award
Each year the university awards the Donald J. White Teaching Award to deserving Teaching Fellows. Each year the Graduate Evaluation Committee can nominate one student to the GSAS to receive this award, or two students to share this award. Nominations are made by the Graduate Evaluation Committee. The criteria for nominating a student for this award are the student’s teaching evaluations and a written report of the student’s teaching by a faculty who has observed one of the student’s classes.
Graduate Program Director
The Graduate Program Director serves on the Graduate Program Committee, the Graduate Admissions Committee and the Graduate Evaluation Committee. The Graduate Program Committee considers the program structure and makes recommendations to the Department about changes to the structure. The Graduate Evaluation Committee evaluates each student’s progress yearly, and makes decisions about special fellowships and awards.
Graduate students receiving summer funding from Boston College are expected to have two weeks of vacation during the summer. The dates of your vacation time should be approved by your advisor in advance. If more vacation is requested and approved the stipend is decreased by $500 per week. This applies only to those students getting money from the department. If you are being funded externally you should discuss your vacation time with your advisor.
Graduate Research Day
In the spring of each year, the graduate students organize a one day conference, called Graduate Research Day. Graduate students present their research in talks and posters. A luncheon is provided. This is an excellent opportunity for students to develop skill in public speaking or poster presentation. This also helps students to bring their research projects to completion in time for formal presentation. All faculty and students are expected to attend.
Graduate Student Professional Workshops
The office of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) hosts programs for the research community.
The Connors Family Learning Center also provides one-hour workshops of a similar nature that are specifically on teaching.
Graduate Student Center
The Murray Graduate Student Center is open to graduate students from all departments. This center serves as way for graduate students to meet socially. The center offers a computer lab, study rooms, dining facilities, and a staff that advocates for graduate students.
Psychology Department Colloquium Series
The department invites distinguished speakers from time to time. The colloquium series is run by a graduate student committee in consultation with the Faculty Colloquium Committee. The graduate students are responsible for everything from organizing the speaker’s day on campus to ensuring hotel reservations are made. In addition, they need to work with the Psychology office to locate a room for the presentation, and plan room setup and refreshments that are required. All students are expected to attend and participate.
University-Wide Graduate Student Awards
The Graduate Student Association has a yearly Awards Banquet honoring three students from each graduate school for excellence in their field of study. Awards are also given for Outstanding Leadership, Outstanding Community Service, and the Sister Thea Bowman Award for outstanding service to the graduate office of the AHANA community (AHANA stands for African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American).