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III. Progress Evaluation

graduate program handbook

There are two important kinds of evaluations, by oneself and by the department.


How am I doing? Every student asks this question, and of course the answer depends on individual goals. Here are some benchmarks. By the end of August of your:

First Year: You have attended a professional conference. You are hard at work at your research. Your advisor is now your collaborator. You have done well in classes.

Second Year: You have presented a paper/poster at a professional conference. You have submitted a paper to a journal. You’ve received a Masters Degree.

Third Year: You have now presented a second poster at a conference, published a journal article and submitted two more, one based on your literature review and another on your research.

Fourth Year: You have now presented a third poster and have published two journal articles. Your dissertation research is well underway. You are taking the lead on your research, with your advisor in a secondary role. You are on target to complete your dissertation during your fifth and final year of department funding.

Departmental Goals for Student Learning

When students complete the Ph.D. they should be able to:

  • Conduct original, publishable research.
  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge of theory and research in their area.
  • Understand statistical theory and application in their area.
  • Follow ethical guidelines for work in their area.
  • Provide effective undergraduate level instruction.
  • Write and speak effectively to professional and lay audiences.

Departmental Evaluation

Throughout your time in the graduate program, the department must evaluate your progress. This handbook describes the minimal requirements all students must meet. These requirements must be met on a timely basis and in a way that demonstrates outstanding effort and results of high quality—including high course grades and conscientious fulfillment of teaching assignments. The Graduate Program Director is responsible for monitoring a student's teaching performance and will forward any cases of sub-standard performance for review by the Graduate Evaluation Committee. Sub-standard performance may result in the loss of a student's stipend.

Beyond these minima, students are evaluated against a standard of excellence. During their time in graduate school, students are expected to do much more than the minimal requirements laid out in this handbook. We expect each student to be immersed in psychology, doing research besides the dissertation: presenting at conferences, attending colloquia at Boston College and at other universities in the Boston area, and so forth. Graduate school is a full-time enterprise.

At the end of the second year—typically by June 1—Ph.D. students will be asked to continue on in the program or to exit, typically with a Masters Degree. Students who have successfully completed the requirements of the first two years, and who have shown the capacity to carry out excellent independent research, will be asked to continue on in the program as doctoral students. If the Graduate Evaluation Committee grants a student an extension on any of the requirements of the first two years, a formal evaluation will be conducted again once these requirements are completed, in order to determine whether the student will be asked to continue on in the program. Extensions are frowned upon and will not be granted unless the student is performing at an excellent level and has a good reason to request the extension.

Of course, all students must have made normal progress and performed well. Nevertheless, beyond these minimal requirements, the Graduate Student Evaluation Committee must consider the fit between the student’s evolving interests and career path and what our program has to offer. This second-year evaluation is a good time to assess that fit.

At the end of the second year, Masters students should have completed all requirements and be eligible for the Masters Degree. Masters students may elect to apply to our doctoral program, but there is no guarantee of admission, and we urge Masters students to apply to a number of doctoral programs, in consultation with their advisors.

Unsatisfied Requirements

When, for good reason, a program requirement is unsatisfied at the time of the end of year evaluation, the Evaluation Committee may notify the student that he or she will be allowed one additional semester to complete the unsatisfied requirement, provided the committee deems that the student has the potential to complete the requirement. If the requirement is not fulfilled by the end of the additional semester, the Evaluation Committee may decide to suspend the student’s registration in the program, suspend the student’s financial support, or ask the student to leave the program. Before any decision, the student and his/her designee may make a presentation to the Evaluation Committee. Whenever a student is suspended, the conditions for restoring registration and financial support are specified. A student may, in addition to or instead of any of the above, request a leave of absence.

Boston College Policies and Procedures

Boston College’s policy and procedures for academic integrity, academic grievances, academic standing, audit, doctoral program policy grading scale, incomplete and deferred grades, leave of absence, pass/fail option, and time-to-degree can be found here.