This is a general path to completing your Ph.D. dissertation. It may not apply to all students, so check with your program coordinator, advisor, and supervisory committee. See Grad Studies’ Master’s Degree Milestones and Doctoral Degree Milestones for more details at the university level and see the Graduate Student Handbook for more details at the department level.

Master’s Equivalent Research Project (MERP)

Typically begun in first year and completed in second year

For Option B (no Master’s thesis required but submit MERP to receive Master’s degree)

  • In consultation with advisor, file Memorandum of Courses prior to completing over one-half of required coursework. The memorandum is due at least one semester prior to expected MERP completion in order to receive Master’s degree (e.g. Submit in spring; degree awarded (earliest) at end of summer). Completed memorandum needs a signature from Graduate Chair (Mike Dodd) before submission to graduate studies.
  • Create MERP committee of advisor plus at least two more psychology graduate faculty members. While this can be the same as the Ph.D. supervisory committee, it does not have to be. If you would like to have graduate faculty from other departments on your committee, that is fine, but it is in addition to the three psychology faculty required.
  • An oral examination is required for the Master's degree. Schedule final oral examination at least four weeks after having advisor and Department Graduate Committee Chair sign and submit Final Examination Report to Grad Studies; that is, submit the form four weeks before the exam.
  • The Master's degree must be completed within 5 years of starting the program.

For all students (including those not receiving Master’s degree)

  • Have committee read and sign off on written component of MERP.
  • Contact Jamie Longwell.
Supervisory committee

Encouraged to arrange as early as possible (end of first year or during second year)

  • Supervisory committees must consist of at least four graduate faculty—or non-graduate faculty approved to perform specified graduate faculty duties—one of which must be from outside of the department.
  • Supervisory committees must be approved by the Department Graduate Executive Committee, which meets in January and May. You should request that your program coordinator put forward your committee before one of these meetings.
  • Have supervisory committee members and Department Graduate Committee Chair sign the Appointment of Supervisory Committee form and submit completed form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator prior to the completion of 45 credit hours.
  • If you need to change the committee, speak with your advisor/committee chair, speak with the new committee member, and submit the Change of Committee Form.
  • Meet with supervisory committee to discuss
  • Program of studies (see below)
  • Agree on scope and format of comprehensive exam
  • Describe dissertation plan
  • Agree on dissertation timeline
Program of studies

Submit soon after MERP completed (second or third year)

  • Discuss with your supervisory committee what courses you should take and prepare your program.
  • Submit completed Program of Studies form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator within the same term (semester or summer) as approval of the Supervisory Committee.
  • Any changes to the Program of Studies after submitting it to Graduate Studies are made via a written memo/email from the student's advisor to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator, outlining the additions, deletions, or substitutions.

Completed third or fourth year

  • Candidacy is achieved when the written comprehensive exam is completed and approved by all committee members. An oral defense and a meeting of the committee are NOT required for committee to approve the written comprehensive exam. However, a supervisory committee may request an oral defense and meeting.
  • Candidacy must be completed 7 months prior to the oral dissertation defense.
  • File Application for Admission to Candidacy form.
  • Once candidacy is established, registration is required each fall and spring until the student graduates. Failure to register will result in termination of candidacy and program.
Dissertation proposal

Completed third or fourth year

  • After candidacy, you need to submit a proposal for the dissertation. The committee must meet to discuss and approve the proposal.
  • The proposal should introduce the dissertation and lay the groundwork for the material to be included in the dissertation.
Dissertation preparation
Dissertation defense
  • Four weeks before final oral exam, you must submit the final version of your dissertation to the committee chair and two readers. Two weeks before the defense, the chair and readers must agree to schedule the defense, and you must submit the Application for Final Oral Examination. Your defense must be scheduled at least three weeks before graduation. So the final dissertation must be completed at least seven weeks before graduation.
  • Submit your dissertation to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator.
  • Upon completion of dissertation and oral defense, submit Report of Completion.
  • Complete the Application for Graduation form in MyRED at the start of your intended graduation term.
  • Submit your completed Hooding Participation form to the Doctoral Programs Coordinator within one month of the beginning of the term in which you plan to graduate.