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OU Home  >  Department of Psychology  >  Graduate Programs  >  Degree Requirements for Ph.D. Program
Degree Requirements for Ph.D. Program


The Doctor of Philosophy in psychology degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of 80 credits in an approved program of study, successful performance on a comprehensive examination, successful completion of an MS thesis, and successful completion and oral defense of a dissertation. Courses in which a student receives a grade below 3.0 cannot be used to meet degree requirements. One course grade below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. A student with two course grades below 3.0 is subject to dismissal from the program.

Course Requirements (A total of 80 credits are required for the degree)

Core Requirements (28 credits from these core courses are required)
PSY 501  Advanced Methods for Psychological and Behavioral Research 1  (4 credits)
PSY 511  Advanced Statistics for Psychological and Behavioral Research 1  (4 credits)
PSY 502  Advanced Methods for Psychological and Behavioral Research 2  (4 credits)
PSY 512  Advanced Statistics for Psychological and Behavioral Research 2  (4 credits)
PSY 521  Proseminar in Biological and Basic Processes  (4 credits)
PSY 531  Proseminar in Social and Behavioral Processes  (4 credits)
PSY 691 Master of Science Thesis (4 credits)

600-Level Concentration Distribution Requirement (20 credits are required)
Students must select five (5) 600-level courses for a total of 16 credits.

Electives (16 credits are required)
Students must select four (4) elective courses (PSY595, PSY621-PSY656,
PSY701-PSY731, PSY790**)
**PSY790 credits above sixteen (16) credit minimum requirement.

Dissertation (16 credits are required)
Students must earn at least 16 credits of PSY 790 (1-12 credits per semester)

Non-Course Requirements

Advising Committee
Students will be assigned to a faculty advisor upon admission. Within the first two years, each student will be expected to identify an Advising Committee (faculty advisor plus two additional faculty members). The Advising Committee will approve and grade (P or F) the student’s Master of Science (MS) Thesis. The Advising Committee also will construct and grade (P or F) the student’s comprehensive exam. The Advising Committee may serve as the student’s Dissertation Committee.

Comprehensive Examination
Typically, with the consent of their Advising Committee, students will sit for the comprehensive examination in the second or third year of the program. If two of the three members of the Advising Committee approve (P) the student’s performance on the comprehensive examination, the student will be considered as having successfully completed the examination. If the student does not pass the examination, the Advising Committee may allow the student to retake the examination within one year. Failure to pass the examination within two attempts shall constitute failure in the Ph.D. program. Ordinarily, students will not sit for the comprehensive examination in the same term that they complete and defend their Master of Science (MS) thesis.

Master of Science Thesis
Typically, with the consent of their Advising Committee, students will complete and defend a Master of Science (MS) thesis in the second or third year of the program. The successful completion of original research—demonstrating competence in design, conduct and analysis, the creation of a master of science thesis—effectively and accurately characterizing the research, communicating the findings and placing the research in context, and the oral defense of the MS are major features of the Master’s degree. The Advising Committee (see above) will approve and grade (P or F) the student’s MS thesis and will be responsible for guiding this process and approving the products—the research, the thesis and the defense of the thesis. Ordinarily, students will not sit for the comprehensive examination in the same term that they complete and defend their Master of Science (MS) thesis.

Acceptance of the thesis by Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning requires favorable recommendations by the Advising Committee and the Department of Psychology Graduate Program Committee. All theses must conform to university standards.

Dissertation Committee
In the third year, each student will be expected to identify a Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee will be chaired by the student’s major advisor and include two additional faculty members from the Department of Psychology. When it is appropriate to the student’s plan of study and approved by the student’s major advisor, an outside scholar or expert may be substituted for one of the faculty members from the Department of Psychology. The Dissertation Committee will guide the student’s dissertation research and creation of the dissertation. A majority of the members must approve the dissertation before it can be defended by the candidate. In addition, the Dissertation Committee, acting as the Defense Committee, must approve (P) the candidate’s defense of the dissertation by a majority vote.

Dissertation and Defense
The successful completion of original research—demonstrating competence in design, conduct and analysis, the creation of a doctoral dissertation—effectively and accurately characterizing the research, communicating the findings and placing the research in context, and the oral defense of the dissertation are major features of the doctoral degree. The Dissertation Committee will be responsible for guiding this process and approving the products—the research, the dissertation, and the defense of the dissertation.

Acceptance of the dissertation by Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning requires favorable recommendations by the Dissertation Committee and the Department of Psychology Graduate Program Committee. All dissertations must conform to university standards (see “Thesis and Dissertation” in the “Graduation Information” section of this catalog).

Additional Requirements
Students will be encouraged to participate in research teams involving faculty researchers, M.S. students and undergraduates. Although the major focus will be on increasing the quality and variety of research experiences available to undergraduates, this activity is designed to provide graduate students with directed mentoring experience, particularly when combined with PSY 595 (Teaching Psychological Science).

Residence
All students are required to fulfill a residency requirement for this program. Although students may complete some of the program on a part-time basis, continuous full-time enrollment is highly preferred. The minimal residency requirement shall be fulltime residency (8 credits per semester) for at least three consecutive full semesters with at least two of these devoted primarily to the student’s research project.

Continuous Enrollment
The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive exam is taken, defense of the M.S. thesis, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time Limits
Students generally will be expected to complete the degree program within five years. The maximum time limit for completing a Ph.D. degree is no more than 10 years from the term of the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. The Time Limit for Completing a Ph.D. Degree policy requires a student to achieve candidacy within six years from the first course enrollment in the doctoral program. After being advanced to candidacy, a student is expected to complete the remaining degree requirements within four years (including the dissertation defense).

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