Clinical Psychology Student Handbook 2016

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAM

DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

 

CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAM

STUDENT HANDBOOK

2016

The primary goal of the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Pittsburgh is the training of clinical scientists who can contribute to an understanding of psychological problems or the association between psychological factors and physical health.  The Program's clinical research training focuses on three general inter-related areas:  developmental psychopathology, adult psychopathology, and health psychology.  The program adheres to a clinical scientist model of training.  To this end, students work closely with their faculty advisor and participate in ongoing, programmatic clinical research.  For further general description of the Clinical Psychology Program see www.pitt.edu/~psych/.

The Clinical Psychology Program is currently and has been continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1948 (American Psychological Association, 750 First St., NE, Washington, DC, 20002, 202-336-5979).Program regulations specify a minimum number of required courses, minimum requirements for clinical practica, and minimum research requirements.  However, students are expected to be involved in integrated research, clinical activities, and course work throughout their stay on campus.  The nature and extent of involvement in each of these activities is determined in consultation with the faculty advisor.  Thus, within the constraints of program requirements, students are encouraged to individualize their research and clinical experiences and elective course work to meet their specific career goals.

In addition to these Clinical Psychology Program requirements, also be certain to consult with the Departmental Graduate Studies secretary for Departmental and University requirements.  

Overall Training Goals             

The Clinical Psychology Program endorses a “Clinical Scientist” model and has as its primary goal to train outstanding scientists who will research clinical psychological and health problems and make substantive contributions to their understanding, prevention, and treatment.  In addition, students should be trained to become excellent clinical practitioners, employing empirically supported techniques, and university teachers.  Such clinical scientists will most commonly be employed in university departments of psychology, medical school academic departments, or other research institutions.  In attempting to reach these goals, the Clinical Psychology Program has organized its training program based on several Objectives and related Competencies. 

Objectives and Competencies

In order to reach the overall primary goals of training successful clinical scientists, practitioners, and teachers, the Program has identified a series of general objectives and associated competencies that all students should possess prior to receiving the Ph.D.   These objectives are listed below along with a brief rationale for why we believe that they contribute to our primary goals. 

a.  A broad base of knowledge of important concepts, theories, methods, and findings from general psychological and relevant biological science.   Scientific advances often come about by applying concepts and methods from one content area to another and it is unfortunately too common for different sub-areas to each “reinvent the wheel”.  By aiming for a broad knowledge base of general psychology and related disciplines among students, the Program encourages students to view their particular research specialty within a broader context and to be able to import concepts or methods from other areas, to the betterment of their own area of expertise. 

b.  Knowledge of and ability to use a range of research designs and statistical analytic techniques.  Scientific advances rely on rigorous and innovative research methods and analysis.  Students should be able to apply their knowledge of state-of-the-art methods both to evaluate others’ studies, as well as to inform the design of their own research in clinical psychology. 

c.  Broad knowledge of important concepts, theories,  methods, and findings from the general area of clinical psychology.   Just as psychology itself has by necessity become increasingly specialized, so has the field of clinical psychology.  Again, by having students acquire a broad knowledge base about clinical psychology in general, we hope to provide them with an integrative view on their own work that benefits from advances in the variety of clinical psychology’s sub-specialties.          

d.  Knowledge of ethical standards and performance of the range of activities listed above in an ethical manner.  Knowledge of ethics and a commitment to ethical behavior are the sine qua non of all the competencies expected of our students.

e.  An in depth knowledge of a specialty area.  Just as a broad background is useful, in depth knowledge of one’s specialty area is also necessary for scientific advances.  This knowledge should encompass both academic as well as practical familiarity with the “nuts and bolts” of research and measurement in a particular clinical psychology area. 

f.  The ability to design, propose, conduct, analyze and write up an empirical study that is novel and makes a contribution to knowledge.  This skill has obvious importance for a later scientific career.

g.  The ability to evaluate studies and write critical and integrative reviews of  specific research questions in clinical psychology.  As science is cumulative, we aim to train students to be able to critically evaluate previous literature, as well to be able to use it to point to future research questions. 

h.  Knowledge of the “infrastructure” of professional science, including: involvement in the publication process (submission and revision), attendance and presentation at national meetings, membership in scientific associations, familiarity with journal review and grant submission processes.  Knowledge and experience with these professional scientific activities should contribute to students’ later careers when these activities become increasingly important.   

i.  The ability to organize a body of knowledge, present it in a fashion to maximize student learning, and evaluate student knowledge.  The Program believes that the ability to teach a college course is an integral aspect of a career in science.  Teaching deepens one’s perspective on a topic and the practice of organization and public presentation are invaluable general skills.   

j.   A critical knowledge of and ability to administer appropriately empirically-supported assessments in a clinical context.  Knowledge of and experience with clinically relevant assessments is the basis of effective clinical treatment.  In addition, we consider empirically-supported assessments important in the conduct of research on clinical phenomena.  First-hand familiarity with clinical phenomena is crucial in identifying important research questions, conducting research on them, and developing new assessments.

k.  A critical knowledge of and ability to apply appropriately relevant empirically-supported interventions to improve clinical problems.  The ability to evaluate effectiveness and provide clinical treatment is the core of clinical practice.  In addition, the Program believes that in depth, first-hand clinical experience with interventions is invaluable in identifying important research questions, conducting research on them, and developing new treatments.

l.  Knowledge about and experience in dealing with individual and cultural diversity and performance of the activities listed above in a manner that respects such differences.  Knowledge of cultural variation is important in both clinical and research areas and respect for differences in others is even more basic.

 

                       

CURRICULUM

 

A list of courses required for all Clinical Psychology Program students appears below:

I.  Core Requirements (required for Master’s degree)         

Psychology 2005 - Statistical Analysis I (3 credits)
Psychology 2010 - Statistical Analysis II (3 credits)

Psychology 2200 - Research Methods in Clinical Psychology (3 credits)

Psychology 2205 - Psychopathology (3 credits)

Psychology 2230 - Clinical Cognitive Assessment (3 credits)
Psychology 2235 - Clinical Psychopathology Assessment (3 credits)
 
Psychology 2250 - Psychological Treatments: Systems and Principles (2 credits)
Psychology 2251 - Psychological Treatments: Cognitive and Behavioral Methods (2 credits)
Either:                        
Psychology 2252 - Psychological Treatments: Behavioral Medicine Interventions (2 credits)
            Or
Psychology 2253 - Psychological Treatments: Family and Children (2 credits)                     

Psychology 2210 - Clinical Program Research Seminar, 4 credits (Fall & Spring terms of first & second years; 1 credit each)

Psychology 2280, 2281, 2282 - Professional & Ethical Issues, 3 credits (Spring & Summer terms of first year, and Fall term of second year; 1 credit each)

Psychology 2220 - Clinic Practicum (10 credits required for core course requirement; see below for additional practica requirements)          

II.  Breadth Requirements

            A.  Human Development
 
            Psychology 2245 - Developmental Psychopathology (3 credits)
 
            B.  Biological Aspects of Behavior
 
            Psychology 2475 – Behavioral Neuroscience (3 credits)
 
This requirement may also be fulfilled by successfully completing all of the following four courses required for the certificate from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). 
            Cognitive Neuroscience          NROSCI 2005
            Neurophysiology                     NROSCI 2100 or CMU 03-762
            Systems Neuroscience NROSCI 2102  or CMU 03-763
            Computational Neuroscience  CMU 85-719, CMU 15-883, CMU 36-759, or MATH 3375

            C.  Cognitive and Affective Aspects of Behavior

Beginning with the Fall 2010 student class, all students are required to complete:

Psychology 2410-       Foundations of Cognitive Psychology

 

For students beginning in Fall 2009 or earlier, this requirement may be fulfilled by one of the following (PSY 2410 will also fulfill the requirement):

Psychology 2410-       Foundations of Cognitive Psychology
Psychology 2450 -      Problem Solving and Reasoning
Psychology 2455 -      Human Cognition: Language
Psychology 2460 -      Human Cognition: Learning & Memory
Psychology 2465 -      Perception & Attention
Psychology 2532 -      Health Judgment & Decision-Making
Psychology 2315 -      Infant Development
Psychology 2320 -      Language Development
Psychology 2330 -      Cognitive Development                               

            D.  Social Aspects of Behavior

                        Beginning with the Fall 2010 student class, all students are required to complete:

                        Psychology 2110-       Foundations of Social Psychology

For students beginning in Fall 2009 or earlier, this requirement may be fulfilled by one of the following (PSY2110) will also fulfill the requirement):           

                        Psychology 2110-       Social Psychology
                        Psychology 2125 -      Social Psychology: Attitudes
                        Psychology 2135 -      Social Perception and Cognition
                        Psychology 2155 -      Psychology of Small Groups
                        Psychology 2325 -      Social Development
                        Psychology 2335 -      Social Cognitive Development
                        Psychology 2530 -      Social Psychology & Health
                        Psychology 3225 -      Seminar in Emotion

 

III.  Elective Courses

Four additional elective courses are required.  They must be approved by the advisor on the basis of their relevance to the student's educational plan.  These electives may be chosen based on individual student’s interests or used to satisfy requirements of other Departmental Graduate Programs or University Graduate Programs.

For students using the elective courses to satisfy requirements of the Developmental Psychology Program (required courses:  Foundations of Developmental Psychology PSY2310, Cognitive Development PSY2330, and Social Development PSY2325), Child Psychopathology PSY3290 is also required. 

IV.  Clinical Practica

Students are required to complete a minimum of 6 terms (16 credits) of Clinic Practica (Psychology 2220, in the Clinical Psychology Center), registering for 1 credit during the summer of first year, 3 credits during each of Fall, Spring, and Summer terms of second year, and 3 credits during Fall and Spring terms of the third year.  The first 4 terms (10 credits) of PSY 2220 (during the first and second years) are considered part of the core course requirements for the Master’s degree. 

Students are required to complete at least one term of Clinical Externship Practicum (Psychology 2225), although two different externships (each of 1 or 2 terms duration) are recommended.  Externships may not be taken until after completion of the clinic practica (PSY2220) in the Spring term of the third year. 

The Directory of Specialty Clinical Externships lists those externships that are currently approved.  Arrangements with other specialty clinics may also be made, subject to Program approval.  Students must register for Clinical Externship credit (PSY2225) for any clinical experiences outside of the Psychology Clinic or their advisor’s research projects.  

In addition to the minimum number of terms noted above (6 in the clinic and 1 on externship), students may, with their advisor’s approval, register for any combination of clinic and externship practica up to a maximum of 13 terms total (required plus optional) of clinic and externship practica.  Students demonstrating satisfactory academic progress may request an exception to this limit from the Program.  Because Clinic Assistants are expected to register for clinic practicum during their assistantship, these credits do not count toward their 13 term total.    

            Exceptions to any of the above require Program approval.

V.  Course Exemptions

Required courses may be exempted on the basis of prior experience or graduate course work at other institutions.  The student should first discuss the request with the faculty advisor.  If he or she agrees, the student should present documentation (e.g., syllabus, reading list) to the Program Director who will make the final determination in consultation with the relevant course instructor.

Students with advanced standing may request exemptions from one of the four required elective seminars based upon prior graduate coursework.  Such a request should be addressed to the Program, accompanied by some documentation (e.g., syllabus, reading list).

In special circumstances, students may be permitted to take a Directed Study in lieu of one of the electives.  Such a request to the Program Director should be accompanied by a rationale, a plan of study, and a letter from the faculty member with whom the student will be working.  Generally, permission is given only when the proposed work is equivalent to a 3 credit seminar and when there is some special circumstance to support the request.

VI.  Definition of Core Courses

A subset of the required courses are defined as core course requirements for purposes of the graduate school.  Completing these courses is equivalent to the preliminary examination referred to in the Graduate School Catalogue.  Students are certified as having met the core course requirements when they have taken all of the basic clinical courses and all of the required statistics and research methods courses (see Section I above).  Ordinarily these courses are completed during the first two years.  To document completion of this milestone, get a “Report on Examinations for Masters Degree” card from the graduate secretary and submit it to the Program Director for signature.  

VII.  Grades

A.        B- is accepted as a passing grade in the required statistics courses

B.        B- is accepted for other required courses taught outside of the Clinical Program (i.e., breadth courses).

C.        B- is accepted as passing for all elective courses

D.        B (not a B-) is required as a passing grade for clinical core courses, including practicum.

E.         Students must maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.0.

VIII.  Advisors

Incoming students are selected on the basis of academic qualifications and fit between students’ and faculty advisors’ research interests.  In addition to research mentoring, advisors also provide guidance on educational and career plans, as well as approve registration each term.   If the research advisor is not a core member of the program, the student will be assigned a core program faculty member to serve as academic advisor.

Occasionally due to divergent interests or stylistic differences, students may wish to change advisors.  In such situations, students should first discuss matters with their advisor.  If additional consultation is needed, discussions with the Clinical Program Director, Departmental Ombudsman, and/or Departmental Chair may also be arranged.  Important considerations include identification of a new advisor who is willing to serve, completion of ongoing projects, maintenance of progress on milestones, and funding.  If after these discussions, a change of advisor seems advisable, the student should meet with the Clinical Program Director to request a change, which would then need to be approved by the Program faculty. 

IX.  Full-time Study

Students are admitted to the Clinical Psychology Program with the understanding that they will engage continuously in full-time study toward the Ph.D.  The assumption is that such training requires a full-time commitment.  For these purposes, full-time study implies (except during internship): 1) being in residence on campus, 2) registration for appropriate course credits, and 3) employment for a maximum of 20 hrs per week only as a teaching assistant (TA) or teaching fellow (TF) for the Department of Psychology, as a graduate student researcher (GSR), or as a fellow with a University or external scholarship.   Any other arrangement requires the written approval of the Program.  In addition, leaves of absence may be requested initially for one year and, if requested, renewed on approval of the Program for one additional year for a maximum of two years.  Employment overloads, in which additional teaching (TA or TF) or research employment exceeds the 20 hrs per week maximum likewise require the approval of the advisor, Program, and Department and in any case cannot exceed a maximum overload of 10 hrs per week.   

X.  Directed Research Requirement

During every year in residence, regardless of funding source, students are expected to be involved in their advisor’s research program an average of 8 to 10 hours per week contributing to some aspect of an ongoing lab project.  This contribution is separate from time spent on the student’s milestone projects.  

XI. Clinical Program Research Seminar

Students are expected to attend the monthly Clinical Psychology Research Seminar series (PSY2210) during both their first and second years.  Attendance during later years is encouraged, but not required.  This seminar series includes research presentations during the Fall and Spring terms by students and faculty from the Clinical Psychology Program, Department of Psychology, and other departments.   This exposure to a range of ongoing clinical research projects is meant to introduce students to faculty and student research projects and to a variety of methodologies.  Evaluation in Psychology 2210 (Clinical Program Research Seminar) will depend upon regular attendance and active participation at these program-wide presentations.

XII.  Professional, & Ethical Issues

Students should register for a total of 3 credits of Professional, and Ethical Issues (PSY 2280,2281, 2282), 1 credit during the Spring and Summer terms of first year and Fall term of second year.  Professional, & Ethical Issues incorporates speakers on selected clinical and professional topics, including Ethics and Diversity training.  In addition, counseling techniques are introduced and clinic cases are presented.    

XIII.  Teaching Requirement

To obtain a PhD in the Department of Psychology all students are required to demonstrate proficiency in teaching. This requirement is fulfilled only by an actual teaching experience in which the student is the sole instructor. The requirement may be fulfilled by individually teaching an undergraduate course as a Teaching Fellow (1.00 TF appointment), or by instructing Research Methods or Cognitive Psychology laboratories (.75 TF appointment).  It is recommended that students planning to pursue an academic career teach a full course, however lab sections of either of these two courses are sufficient to fulfill the requirement.

No other laboratory or recitation section instruction experience will satisfy the department teaching requirement, nor will co-teaching or guest lectures in regular courses, presentations that are part of course or practicum assignments, presentations at meetings, or assignments such as clinical assistantships and teaching assistantships that involve writing, monitoring or grading exams and papers.

Timing & cognate requirements.  Students are required to enroll for Teaching of Psychology (PSY 2970) or Practicum on University Teaching (FACDEV 2200) during or immediately prior to the term in which they teach for the first time. It is very strongly recommended that students fulfill the teaching requirement prior to proposing the dissertation.  Having another source of funding (e.g., training grant; fellowship) does not exclude students from the teaching requirement. Since some sources of funding, including many fellowships, do not permit teaching during the period of funding, the responsibility lies with the student to time the fulfillment of the teaching requirement accordingly. Students are especially discouraged from waiting until their final year in the program to fulfill the requirement, in part because course availability cannot be guaranteed.  It is also recommended (but not required) that students acquire pre-teaching experience as a Teaching Assistant &/or Teaching Fellow for a laboratory section prior to teaching their first full course. 

Evaluation & records.  The student’s teaching experience must be supervised by a full-time faculty member in the Department of Psychology who will be assigned by the Assistant Chair. During their initial teaching experience students must arrange for their faculty supervisor to attend at least one lecture or lab. The faculty supervisor must provide oral and written feedback to the student with a copy for the student’s permanent file in the Psychology Graduate Studies office. Students should check with their faculty supervisor to be sure this occurs.  For lecture courses (not labs), the student must also provide a copy of the course syllabus, exams, and handouts for the permanent file.  Finally, students must arrange for their course to be formally evaluated by OMET and must provide a copy of the evaluation to the Assistant Chair for the permanent file.  The Teaching Requirement Form (see attached) should also be completed after fulfillment of the requirement and given to the Clinical Psychology Program Secretary.

Exceptions.  Exceptions to this requirement will be granted only rarely, and typically only for an equivalent college-level teaching experience.  Requests for exceptions must be submitted in writing with appropriate supporting materials to the Assistant Chair of the department and to the Program Chair no less than two terms prior to the expected dissertation defense date or physical departure from the university (e.g., clinical internship), whichever comes first.  Exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis by the Assistant Chair in consultation with the Graduation Education Council. 

XIV.  Core Faculty  

            The following are the Core Faculty Members of the Clinical Psychology Program:

            Susan Campbell, Ph.D.
            Jeffrey Cohn, Ph.D.
            Thomas Kamarck, Ph.D.
            Stephen Manuck, Ph.D.
            Anna Marsland, Ph.D.
            Michael Pogue-Geile, Ph.D.
            Kathryn Roecklein, Ph.D.
            Michael Sayette, Ph.D.
            Daniel Shaw, Ph.D.
            Saul Shiffman, Ph.D.
            Jennifer Silk, Ph.D.
            Aidan Wright, Ph.D.            

XV.  Master's Thesis

Students are required to complete a Master's Thesis or an equivalent research project.

Scope:  The master’s thesis should be an empirical study of potentially publishable quality.  The scope of the thesis should take into consideration that it may be a student’s first such project and that it should be able to be completed and defended within approximately one year after the proposal has been approved by the committee, barring unforeseen circumstances.  The thesis may employ either archival or newly collected data but in either case the student should demonstrate the degree of independence in formulation of questions and conduct of the study that is appropriate to the student’s stage of training and that would justify a first-authorship publication.       

Committee: The thesis committee is composed of at least three faculty members and is chaired by the student’s advisor, who must be a core or affiliated member of the Clinical Psychology Program.   At least one member (or the chair) of the thesis committee must a core faculty member of the Clinical Psychology Program faculty.  For the purposes of the master’s thesis committee, the following are considered as faculty: tenure stream faculty in psychology, any faculty appointment in a department outside of psychology, or a research associate or research full professor in psychology.  Exceptions require permission of the Program.  Committee members are selected by the student in consultation with their advisor based on their expertise in the topic area.  The thesis committee membership must be approved by the Clinical Psychology Program. 

Procedure:  After identifying potential committee members in consultation with their advisor, the proposed committee membership should be sent to the Clinical Program Director for preliminary review.  After this review, the student should ask the proposed committee members if they would be willing to serve and after receiving their agreement, the proposed committee along with a thesis title should be sent to the Program Director, who will solicit Clinical Program faculty comment for official Program approval.  After receiving approval of the Program, a proposal meeting should be scheduled as soon as possible.  The written proposal, after it has been approved by the student’s advisor, should be circulated (ask members if they prefer paper or electronic file version) to the committee members at least one week prior to the proposal meeting.  Master’s thesis proposal and defense meetings should be held in Sennott Square and are typically scheduled for 2 hours.  It is customary for the student to present a brief overview (approximately 15 minutes) of their proposal or defense prior to responding to questions.  The Masters Proposal Form (see attached) should be signed by the committee at the proposal meeting (or after revisions are approved) and turned in to the Clinical Psychology Program secretary.  An approved proposal is required before beginning the thesis research                                                                                                   

When the project is completed and the thesis written, the student presents it to the committee at an oral defense meeting.  Again, after being approved by the advisor, the thesis should be circulated to committee members (ask members if they prefer paper or electronic file version) at least one week in advance of the defense meeting.  Following a successful defense or after successful completion of required revisions, the Report on Examinations for Masters Defense card should be completed by the committee and submitted to the Graduate Studies secretary, with a copy to the Clinical Psychology Program secretary.   Following any needed revisions, a copy of the final thesis (both a hard copy and a pdf computer file) should be provided to the Clinical Psychology Program secretary for archiving.            

Format:  The master’s thesis should be in journal article format (APA guidelines).  Proposals should be no longer than 25 pages and the final document no more than 35 pages (excluding references and tables, 1" margins, 12 pt font).  Students are encouraged to submit

the thesis for publication and presentation at national scientific meetings.  The aim is that the final thesis should be able to be submitted for publication with minimal revisions. 

Time line:  Students should preferably propose the master’s thesis by Fall term of the second year and by the Summer term of their second year in the program at the latest.  Any student who has not completed their master’s proposal meeting by the Summer term of their second year must submit a written petition to the Program explaining their delay and requesting an extension.  They will also be in the “Red” zone of the Departmental Guidelines and will be subject to those relevant regulations (see attached document). 

Students should defend their thesis as early as possible (preferably before Fall term of their third year) and by the Summer term of their third year at the latest.  Any student who has not successfully defended the thesis by the Summer term of their third year must submit a written petition to the program explaining their delay and requesting an extension. They will also be in the “Red” zone of the Departmental Guidelines and will be subject to those relevant regulations (see attached document).

Students who have completed a thesis at another institution may request exemption from the thesis requirement.  Exemptions are granted by the clinical faculty upon determination that the completed thesis is equivalent to our requirements (i.e., a formally prepared document describing an empirical study).  In some instances a thesis committee is constituted and the student is asked to defend the thesis prior to its acceptance as meeting our Program requirements.

XVI.  Preliminary Evaluation         

While the Psychology Department does not admit students into a distinct Master's Degree program, students are not automatically eligible to pursue the Ph.D. degree.  Rather, the Clinical Program conducts a formal Preliminary Evaluation of each student after completion of the Master's Thesis in order to determine whether or not the student should be allowed to continue his/her studies toward the Ph.D.  Successful completion of earlier requirements does not guarantee that the student will be allowed to continue.  Rather, the faculty will also consider other factors (such as overall quality of performance, professional ethics and competence) in making a determination.

The Preliminary Evaluation will be conducted after the successful defense of the Master's Thesis but before the student is permitted to propose the Specialty Examination.  If the faculty concludes that the student is not eligible for further study, he/she will be terminated from the program.  If the decision is positive, the student will be notified and permitted to propose the Specialty Examination.

XVII.  Specialty Examination

Prerequisites and Sequence:  As one of the requirements for the Ph.D., all students are required to pass a Specialty Examination.  The Specialty Examination consists of a review paper and an oral defense.  To be eligible to write the Specialty Paper, students must have completed the clinical program core courses and the Masters thesis.  Students cannot form a dissertation committee or apply for internship until the Specialty Paper is successfully defended.  Exceptions to this sequence must be approved by the Program based on a written petition. 

Scope:  The general aim of the Specialty Paper is to have students write a literature review that organizes and evaluates the current scientific literature in an effort to answer a specific question based on their research interests.  The review should be focused on an important question with broad implications, critical of the evidence, of publishable quality, and conceptually innovative.  The paper should also address current theoretical and methodological weaknesses in the area and propose strategies to advance future work.  Meta-analytic approaches will often be relevant but are not required.  Models of such reviews include articles published in the Psychological Bulletin.  As part of the proposal process, students are encouraged in discussion with their advisor, to identify journals that would be suitable to publish the final paper.   

Proposal:  The proposal for the Specialty Paper should be developed in consultation with and approved by a student’s faculty advisor.  The proposal can be no longer than 8 double-spaced pages including references and should include as part of the text, the central question of the paper, a description of the literatures that will be brought to bear on it, and the rationale for their inclusion.   The proposal should be structured to include text (2-3 pages), an outline (2-3 pages), and a brief, selected reference list (1 page).  Proposals over the page limit will be returned to the student.      

Committee:  The specialty paper committee is composed of at least four faculty members and is chaired by the student’s advisor, who must be a core or affiliated member of the Clinical Psychology Program.   At least two members of the specialty paper committee must be core faculty members of the Clinical Psychology Program.  For the purposes of the specialty paper committee, the following are considered as faculty: tenure stream faculty in psychology, any faculty appointment in a department outside of psychology, or a research associate or research full professor in psychology.  Exceptions require permission of the Program.  Committee membership must be approved by the Clinical Psychology Program.    

Procedure:  After identifying potential committee members in consultation with their advisor, the proposed committee membership should be sent to the Clinical Program Director for preliminary review.  After this review, the student should ask the proposed committee members if they would be willing to serve and after receiving their agreement, the proposed committee and a paper title should be sent to the Program Director, who will solicit Clinical Program faculty comment for official Program approval.  After receiving approval of the Program, a proposal meeting should be scheduled as soon as possible.  After being approved by the advisor, the written proposal should be circulated to the committee members (ask members if they prefer paper or electronic file version) at least one week prior to the proposal meeting.  Specialty paper proposal and defense meetings should be held in Sennott Square and are typically scheduled for 2 hours.  It is customary for the student to present a brief overview (approximately15 minutes) of their proposal or defense prior to responding to questions.  The Specialty Paper Proposal Form (see attached) should be completed by the committee after approval of the proposal (including any revisions) and turned in to the Clinical Psychology Program secretary.          

Following approval by the committee of the proposal, students should work independently on the paper.  Discussion with faculty advisors about the Specialty Paper is encouraged, but written drafts should not be exchanged.   Deviations from the original approved outline based on a more complete literature review are fine and may be discussed with the faculty advisor.  Discussion with other students is also encouraged, but written drafts should not be circulated.  The page limit for the initial submission of the Specialty Paper is 40 pages of text (double-spaced, 1 in. margins, 12 pt font), excluding references and tables.  The completed Specialty Paper must be distributed to all members of the specialty paper committee (ask members if they prefer paper or electronic file version) at least one week prior to the oral defense.            

The oral defense meeting should be attended by all committee members.  Based on both the written paper and the oral defense, the specialty paper committee will decide among three grade options: fail, pass, or pass with honors.  Students will have two chances to pass the requirement.  If the defense is not passed initially, the committee may recommend changes and schedule a second meeting within one month.  After successful completion of the requirement (including any revisions),  the specialty paper committee will sign the “Report of Examinations for the Doctoral Degree” card and forward it to the Departmental graduate office, with a copy to the Clinical Program secretary.  Following any needed revisions, a copy of the final specialty paper (both a hard copy and a pdf computer file) should be provided to the Clinical Psychology Program secretary for archiving.  If the specialty paper committee does not approve the second defense, the clinical program faculty will make the final decision, based on the Specialty Examination and other performance, concerning the student’s status in the program. Even if the specialty examination is passed, the Clinical Program faculty may terminate the student from the Program based on other performance.                                                                                                                                                 

Timeline:  The specialty paper proposal meeting must be no more than six months after the defense of the Master’s thesis, thus preferably by the Summer term of the third year and no later than the Summer term of the fourth year.  Students who have not had a successful specialty paper proposal meeting by the Summer term of their fourth year will be in the Departmental “Red” zone and will be subject to those relevant regulations (see attached).            

At the time of the proposal meeting, a date six months later should be set for a final oral defense of the specialty paper.  The specialty paper defense is due 6 months after the specialty paper proposal meeting (or successful revisions).  Thus the defense should occur preferably before the Spring term of the fourth year or at the latest by the Spring term of the fifth year.  Students who have not successfully defended their Specialty Paper by the Spring term of the fifth year will have entered the Departmental “red” zone and will be subject to those relevant regulations (see attached).           

XVIII.  Admission to Doctoral Candidacy and Dissertation     

Prerequisites:  Upon passing the Specialty Examination and with the approval of the Clinical Psychology Program, the student may begin their doctoral dissertation.  Exceptions to this sequence must be approved by the Program based on a written petition. 

Scope:  The doctoral dissertation is meant to be a scholarly document reporting on an empirical contribution to the knowledge base in a student's area of expertise.  It should be of publishable quality.  For the dissertation, students are expected a) to play a significant role in the development of an important question or set of questions in their selected area of research; b) to be actively involved in the process of designing a study, collecting data, and/or developing measurement/analytic procedures to address the question(s). Under most circumstances, data collection will be designed specifically for the dissertation project, but it is understood that time and monetary constraints frequently do not permit students to plan dissertations of a scope that could meaningfully address questions that are at the cutting edge of the student’s field of interest. In such cases, use of pre-existing data from large scale or longitudinal studies may be appropriate. When students use data from a pre-existing data set, they are still expected to play an independent role in formulating the questions (e.g., the hypotheses drawn from the advisor’s grant application do not constitute an appropriate dissertation topic), and in designing or facilitating new measurement or analytic procedures appropriate to the topic (e.g., the project must involve more than a simple data analysis involving existing variables).

Because candidates for research positions will be evaluated in terms of their projected ability to develop a laboratory and to design new projects, it behooves them to move beyond involvement with pre-existing data sets at some point in their graduate career. Faculty mentors are encouraged to create opportunities for trainees to  design and carry out new studies during their graduate training (if not during the dissertation) as well as working with existing data sets. Toward this end, all students are encouraged to develop experience in a) writing grant and IRB proposals, b) collecting data or conducting relevant measurements or assays that reflect the current state of the art, c) developing new measures, and d) involvement in all stages of a project from start to finish if feasible. As part of all research experiences during graduate training, of course, students are also strongly encouraged to present and to publish their work.

Committee: The dissertation committee is composed of at least five faculty members and is chaired by the student’s advisor, who must be a core or affiliated member of the Clinical Psychology Program.   At least two members of the dissertation committee must be core faculty members of the Clinical Psychology Program faculty.  At least three members must have primary appointments in the Department of Psychology.  At least one member must be a faculty member with a primary appointment outside the Department of Psychology who is a member of the Graduate Faculty. The Departmental Graduate secretary can determine who is a member of the graduate faculty.  For the purposes of the dissertation committee, the following are considered as primary faculty in psychology: tenure stream faculty in psychology or a research associate or research full professor in psychology.  Exceptions require permission of the Program.  Committee membership must be approved by the Clinical Psychology Program. 

Procedure: After identifying potential committee members in consultation with their advisor, the proposed committee membership should be sent to the Clinical Program Director for preliminary review.  After this review, the student should ask the proposed committee members if they would be willing to serve and after receiving their agreement, the proposed committee and a dissertation title should be sent to the Program Director, who will solicit Clinical Program faculty comment for official Program approval.  After receiving approval of the Program, a proposal meeting should be scheduled as soon as possible.  Following advisor approval, the written proposal should be circulated to the committee members (ask members if they prefer paper or electronic file version) at least one week prior to the proposal meeting.  The dissertation proposal meeting should be held in Sennott Square and is typically scheduled for 2 hours.  It is customary for the student to present a brief overview (approximately15 minutes) of their proposal prior to responding to questions.  After final approval of the proposal (including any revisions) the committee will sign the Application for Admission to Candidacy for Doctoral Degree form, which should be turned in to the Departmental Graduate secretary, with a copy to the Clinical Program secretary.  This form must be signed and processed a minimum of eight months prior to the final oral defense.  Formal admission to Doctoral candidacy does not actually occur until the student has a successful dissertation proposal meeting and this form is signed and processed.  An approved dissertation proposal is required before beginning the dissertation research.                                                                                                                               

After completion of the data collection, analysis, and write-up, the dissertation must be defended before the committee at an oral examination.  Again, after being approved by the advisor, the dissertation should be circulated to committee members (ask members if they prefer paper or electronic file version) at least one week in advance of the defense meeting.  The Departmental Graduate secretary should be notified when a dissertation defense is scheduled so that they may be publicized to the Department and University community.  All dissertation defenses should take place in the Martin Colloquium in Sennott Square and all departmental faculty and students are invited and encouraged to attend.  First, students will make a formal presentation (about 30 minutes) of their dissertation aimed at those who have not read the written document followed by a general question period (about 15 minutes).  Following this, non-committee members will be excused and questions from committee members will be taken.   Minor or major revisions may be requested by the committee, the dissertation may be approved or disapproved.  After successful completion of the defense (including any revisions),  the committee will sign the “Report of Examinations for the Doctoral Degree” card and forward it to the Departmental graduate office, with a copy to the Clinical Program secretary. 

Timeline: The dissertation proposal must be successfully defended by June 1 of the year the student wishes to apply for internship.  The dissertation proposal meeting should preferably occur by the Spring term of the fifth year and no later than the Spring term of the sixth year.  Students who have not had a successful dissertation proposal meeting by the Fall term of their seventh year will be in the Departmental “Red” zone and will be subject to those relevant regulations (see attached).     

The dissertation should be defended if at all possible prior to departing on internship.  The dissertation defense should occur preferably before the Summer term of the sixth year or at the latest by the Summer term of the seventh year.  Students who have not successfully defended their dissertation by the Summer term of the seventh year will have entered the Departmental “red” zone and will be subject to those relevant regulations (see attached).    

Exception to these deadlines must be approved by the Clinical Program based on a written request.          

XIX.  Internship

Students are required to complete a one-year clinical internship in an APA-accredited clinical psychology internship program.  Formal faculty approval must be secured prior to applying for internship.  In order to apply for internship, the student must have a successful dissertation proposal meeting before June 1 of the year when they are going to apply.  In addition, the student and the faculty advisor must certify to the faculty that the dissertation is feasible and should be defended before the start of the internship to the best of their judgment.  In the absence of this certification from the advisor, the student would not be granted permission from the program to apply for an internship.  All APA-approved internship settings require that students have a letter from the Director of Training certifying that they are eligible to apply for an internship.  The goal is that the student should defend their dissertation prior to leaving for internship.

Students are encouraged to discuss possible internship sites with the Director of Training, with their advisor, and with other faculty.

XX.  Graduation Procedures

It is best to complete the dissertation defense prior to beginning the clinical internship.   In this situation, students should register for the term in which the defense occurs.  Students who have successfully defended the dissertation along with all other requirements except the clinical internship prior to the Departmental graduation ceremony in April or May can, with the permission of the Program Director, take part in this ceremony, although they will not officially graduate at this time.  After receiving permission, students should contact the Departmental Graduate Secretary regarding participating in the Departmental graduation ceremony.  (Students who are not officially graduating in Spring are not permitted to walk in the University Spring Graduation Ceremony.)  Students then should register for the term in which they will complete their clinical internship (usually Summer term), as well as apply for graduation (contact the Departmental Graduate Studies secretary).  Students may apply for a Dean’s Fellowship to cover the tuition expenses for this final registration.  Students officially graduating in the Summer Term may apply for and walk in the University’s Winter or Spring Graduation Ceremony the following academic year. 

If the dissertation defense occurs during the Fall or Spring terms of the clinical internship year, the University requires that students must register and pay tuition and fees (approximately $900) for the term in which the defense occurs.  Students who have successfully defended the dissertation along with all other requirements except the clinical internship prior to the Departmental graduation ceremony in April or May can, with the permission of the Program Director, take part in this ceremony, although they will not officially graduate at this time.  After receiving permission, students should contact the Departmental Graduate Secretary regarding participating in the Departmental graduation ceremony.  (Students who are not officially graduating in Spring are not permitted to walk in the University Spring Graduation Ceremony.)  Students then should also register for the term in which they will complete their clinical internship (usually Summer term), as well as apply for graduation (contact the Departmental Graduate Studies secretary).  Students may apply for a Dean’s Fellowship to cover the tuition expenses for this final registration.  Students officially graduating in the Summer Term may apply for and walk in the University’s Winter or Spring Graduation Ceremony the following academic year.   

If the dissertation defense occurs during the term in which the internship will be completed and graduation will occur (usually Summer) then the student should register for the summer term as well as apply for graduation (contact the Departmental Graduate Studies secretary).   Students may apply for a Dean’s Fellowship to cover the tuition expenses for this final registration.  Students officially graduating in the Summer Term may apply for and walk in the University’s Winter or Spring Graduation Ceremony the following academic year.  

If the dissertation defense does not occur until after the clinical internship is completed, then the student should register for the term in which the defense occurs, as well as register for graduation (contact the Departmental Graduate Studies secretary).  Students may apply for a Dean’s Fellowship to cover the tuition expenses for this final registration.  Students who have successfully defended the dissertation along with all other requirements prior to the University graduation ceremonies in the following December or May can take part in these ceremonies and the Departmental Graduation Ceremony in April.   

Students may not walk in the Departmental ceremony unless they have successfully completed the dissertation defense or University ceremony unless they graduating in that term.  

Some clinical internships finish soon after the August deadline for summer graduation.  In such cases, the Program Director may send a memo to the Departmental Graduate Studies secretary indicating that all Program requirements have been met, if a letter from the student’s internship director has been received stating that the student is in good standing and is on track to finish the internship successfully.   In which case, the student may register and graduate in Summer rather than Fall term. 

XXI.  Statute of Limitations

Students have a maximum of 10 years from date of entry to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

XXII.  Ethical Standards

All graduate students in the Department of Psychology are expected to uphold the standards of ethical behavior, academic and research integrity, and professional conduct as instantiated in the published policies of the University of Pittsburgh (www.pitt.edu/~provost/ai1.html; www.pitt.edu/~provost/ethresearch.html; www.pitt.edu/HOME/PP/policies/11/11-01-01.html; www.studentaffairs.pitt.edu/usjs/pdf/code.pdf; www.pitt.edu/HOME/PP/policies/07/07-06-04.html; http://www.facas.pitt.edu/academicintegrity.html) and the current Ethical Principles of Psychologists, the Code of Conduct and related policies of the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html), and the official policies of the federal Office for Human Research Protection (www.hhs.gov/ohrp) . 

In cases of suspected infraction of these policies, established university procedures will be followed. Students who are suspected of infractions will be notified in writing by the chair of the Clinical Psychology Program.  Once notified, students may (but are not required to) respond to the chair of the Program in writing with relevant supporting materials as appropriate and available.  At the student’s request and/or the program chair’s discretion, the matter may be brought to the program faculty as a group. 

The student may be required to institute corrective actions or may face sanctions, or both.  The latter may include termination from the PhD program.  Details will be communicated in writing and will become part of the student’s permanent file in the Psychology Department’s Graduate Studies office.

Students may appeal decisions reached by the program regarding suspected infractions of ethics policies to the Graduate Education Council who will institute review procedures as appropriate. 

XXIII. Student Responsibilities Regarding Online Activities

 Students are encouraged to remain mindful of their behavior and its consequences online, including the use of social networking, blogs, listservs, email, and voicemail.  It is likely that undergraduate students, clients, research participants, supervisors, potential internship sites, and future employers may access online information about you.  Activities online, including those that you may consider purely personal in nature may unfortunately reflect upon your professional life, the Program, Department, and University. Keep in mind the ideals of the preamble to the APA ethics code in which we aspire to do no harm to our clients, our research participants, or the profession with our actions. With this in mind, you are encouraged to consider the following cautions and suggestions:

  1. With social networking sites such as Facebook, utilize privacy settings to limit access to your pages and personal information. Use thoughtful discretion when considering “friend” requests and consider the boundary implications
  2. With email, keep in mind that everything you write may exist perpetually or be retrievable, so be thoughtful about what you write. Emails sent via the Pitt email system are considered public records and the property of Pitt.
  3. Email “signatures” should be professional and appropriately represent one’s status and credentials. Students are encouraged to consider adding a confidentiality disclaimer to email signature files.
  4. Be mindful of voicemail greetings if you utilize a private phone for any professional purposes (teaching, or research). Make sure that such messages reflect a maturity and professionalism that you would want to portray to the public.
  5. Online photo and video sharing, including within social networking sites, should be considered very public venues, and use discretion when posting such information.
  6. As a student of Pitt, you must be careful in your personal life to make sure your personal communications and postings are not perceived to be associated with the university. 

If the program becomes aware of online activity that represents a violation of the APA Code of Ethics, local, state or federal laws, such information will be considered as any other professional or ethical issue and as such may be included in evaluation of student progress and may be grounds for disciplinary action, including dismissal from the program.  Be aware that additional University regulations may also apply.

            Please consult the Clinic Handbook for additional guidelines relevant to clinical activities. 

XXIV.  Policies Regarding Satisfactory Progress toward the PhD,

            Loss of Funding, and Termination from the Program

As the highest degree conferred in recognition of academic achievement, a PhD implies specialized expertise, broad related knowledge, and the commitment and ability to carry out independent scholarly inquiry of significant scientific merit. Students who meet expectations for progress toward the degree and growth in achieving these qualities are considered in good standing.  Students who are not in good standing may lose funding or be terminated from the graduate program prior to completing PhD requirements at the recommendation of the Clinical Program faculty.  A student recommended for termination from the program may appeal the decision of the program faculty to the Graduate Education Council in writing, with supporting materials. 

            Expectations for Satisfactory Progress and Growth in PhD Level Scholarship

Students are expected to:

1.  Complete course requirements in a timely manner and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, with no more than 1 course grade below B-.

2.  Complete program, department, and FAS milestones in a timely manner as specified in this Student Handbook

3.  Demonstrate the motivation, commitment, and ability to design and carry out research of publishable quality.  Intellectual contributions and scholarly abilities of students are expected to increase over time in the program. 

4.  Demonstrate the motivation, commitment, and ability to identify and articulate significant  substantive issues in the field and to think and write integratively, critically, and creatively about them.  The level of scholarship is expected to increase over time in the program.

5.  Demonstrate the motivation, commitment, and ability to sustain elective, problem-oriented, theoretically-grounded scientific inquiry and to disseminate scholarship effectively in written and oral forms.  The quality of the scholarly products, both written and oral, is expected to increase over time in the program.

 6.  Demonstrate consistently effective assessment and intervention skills with clients, including the knowledge and ability to apply empirically supported techniques to clinical interactions.  These skills are expected to improve over time in the program.

            Ethical Violations and/or Professional Misconduct. 

Violation of the standards for ethical and professional conduct may also result in early termination from the PhD program, even for students otherwise in good standing. See above for details.

Annual written evaluations by the student’s program faculty will identify inadequate progress and/or significant weaknesses in meeting these expectations.  At the discretion of the program faculty a student may be placed on provisional or probationary status &/or may be denied department funding.  Clear guidelines for remedying identified problems will be provided in writing and in a timely manner by the program chair.  Guidelines will include both concrete goals or expectations for student performance and a timeline for achieving them.  Failure to comply with these guidelines constitutes grounds for termination from the PhD program.  Students’ progress will also be evaluated upon completing each major milestone toward the degree. Note that successful completion of a milestone does not in itself denote satisfactory progress toward the PhD.          

XXV.  Outside Agency Clearances

      The Clinical Psychology Program requires that students complete a criminal background check (PA state police and FBI), an act 33/34 clearance, and perhaps a drug screen in order to be eligible to participate in clinic, externship, and internship training.  Additionally, in order to become licensed as a Psychologist, many states may inquire as to whether the applicant has been convicted of a misdemeanor, a felony, or a felonious or illegal act associated with alcohol and/or substance abuse.  

            Failure to pass such external clearances will interfere with meeting Program requirements, state licensure, and later employment opportunities.

XXVI.  Guidelines Regarding Research Advising            

1.  Advisors should limit the number of their advisees so that each can be given sufficient and appropriate attention.  While the limit will vary according to the circumstances and the habits and responsibilities of the faculty member, it has been general experience that an advisor with more than 4 or 5 advisees does a disservice to all of them.

2.  An advisor should arrange for regular, individual and uninterrupted meetings with each advisee.  The frequency and length of such meetings will vary with the stage of the student’s research, but as a general rule, the student should expect to spend at least 30 minutes per week in individual consultation with her or his advisor, with longer or more frequent meetings early on and during periods of proposal development and data gathering.

3.  Advisors should provide prompt and thorough written feedback on drafts of proposals, thesis-chapters, or papers.  Students should be able to expect a turn-around time of one to two weeks on submitted material.  With faxes and e-mail available throughout the world, advisors who are out of town for extended periods can still be expected to provide prompt feedback.

4.  An advisor should provide active guidance for his or her students, steering them toward feasible projects and away from such pitfalls as overambitious proposals, excessively time-consuming studies or untested and risky research methodology.  At the same time, the advisor should refrain from an attempt to clone him- or herself and permit the student to develop her or his own style and direction.

5.  Research advisors who also provide financial support for their advisees within their own projects have special concerns.  They must spell out the conditions and length of support (as far as they can within the limits of their grants) and need to be very careful that the concerns of their own projects do not unduly interfere with the timely progress of their students.  If the advisor leaves the University, he or she should make arrangements for the future of their advisees.

6.  Research advisors should be sufficiently familiar with program and FAS degree requirements that they can remind their students when courses should be taken and milestones achieved.

7.  Advisors should evaluate student progress and performance in a regular (i.e., no less than annual) and informative way.  In these evaluations advisors should inform students about their performance in relation to expectations of normal progress and to norms associated with successful degree completion and placement after graduation.  Advisors should place student’s timely completion of degree requirements among their highest priorities.

8.  Advisors should educate students about research integrity and make them aware of the University’s policies on Research Integrity and on Conflict of Interest.

9.  Advisors should encourage students to present their research at professional meetings and publish it in journals as a first author.                                                                  

10.  Advisors should help students gain an appreciation of teaching and assist them in improving their teaching skills as appropriate.                                                                   

11.  Advisors should supply students with information about career opportunities and encourage them to plan toward a career goal as early in their course of study as possible.

Not every student may be a good fit with even the most conscientious and effective advisor.  A student may develop interests that do not match the advisor’s particular area of expertise or there are occasional personality differences that may be impossible to resolve.  Advisors should be prepared to recognize these problems sufficiently early to deter the student from wasting excessive time in an incompatible endeavor.

Students must also be made aware that they have responsibilities to their advisors; to initiate meetings when necessary, to complete assignments in a timely manner, to heed advice and warnings, and to respect the expertise of their mentor.  However, if a student believes that he or she has been unfairly treated by their advisor, they have several avenues for mediation.  First, issues should be attempted to be resolved informally with the student’s advisor.  If that is not satisfactory, then contact should be made with the Program Chair, followed by the Department Chair if needed.   Additional guidance can also be obtained from the Assistant or Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in FAS at the recommendation of the Departmental Chair.

XXVII.  Student Awards

            A.  Departmental Student Travel Fund

            An award of several hundred dollars is available to help support Department of Psychology student  professional travel.  Students should apply to the Assistant Chair of the Department of Psychology for travel support.

            B.  E.B. Huey Student Research Grant

            Several grants of up to $1,000 are given annually to help support Clinical Psychology Program students’ research.  This grant is supported by a donation from alumnus, Donald Routh, Ph.D., in honor of the first chair of the Department of Psychology, E.B. Huey.  Applications are solicited in the Fall term of each year.

            C.  A. David Lazovik Student Research Grant

            Several grants of $1,000 are given annually to help support Clinical Psychology students’ research.  This award was endowed in memory of A. David Lazovik, former member of the Clinical Program faculty and chair of the Department of Psychology, by his family. Applications are solicited in the Spring term of each year.   

            D.  Max and Jennie Bassell Student Award

            An award of up to $750 is given annually to the outstanding student in the class leaving on internship.  This award is to recognize excellence in all phases of the Program - research,

clinical work, and overall scholarship.  The award was made to the University by the late Dr. Jack Bassell in memory of his parents.

            E.  Max & Jennie Bassell Student Publication Award

            An award of up to $100 is given annually to any student who has an approved first author journal publication accepted in that academic year.       

XXVIII.  Student Funding

            Traditionally students receive financial support, including tuition remission, during their time in the program.  Usually funding carries with it a work requirement (maximum of 20 hours per  week), although a few students are supported on training grant funds with no work requirement.  Funded positions include teaching assistantships, teaching fellowships, graduate research assistantships, and clinic assistantships. Competitive scholarships, such as University Fellowships for first year students and the Mellon and Sloan Fellowships for more senior students are also available through the University for students of exceptional merit. 

It is department policy that students past their fourth year in the program receive lower priority in awarding TA/TF positions and that students past their sixth year receive lowest priority in awarding TF positions.  Although students past the sixth year who are in good standing typically receive TF funding if requested, access to TF funding will be at risk in any term during which teaching requests are unusually high.                       

DEPARTMENTAL POLICIES ON EXPECTED PROGRESS TOWARDS DEGREE

 

April, 2011

 

A.  Overview

 

All graduate students in the Department of Psychology are expected to complete a doctoral degree in a timely fashion (4-6 years, excluding a final internship year for Clinical students).  To meet this goal, it is important that students and faculty work together to ensure that each student is making appropriate progress and that the department’s expectations are clearly communicated.  To this end, the Graduate Education Committee has established a timeline that outlines optimal, potentially problematic, and unacceptable rates of progress.  In addition to providing a communicative function, this timeline will play a role in the annual evaluations of student accomplishments and the quality of faculty mentoring.

 

B.  Timeline indicating expected progress towards degree

 

Table 1 outlines the rate at which students are expected to progress through the milestones associated with the Department’s graduate training programs.  Faculty in the department recognize that the progress of each student will vary, and for this reason rates of progress are defined in terms of various “zones,” rather than specific, department-wide cut-off dates for each milestone requirement.  The three zones – green, yellow, and red – are defined below.

 

 

Green (optimal) zone: Completing each milestone requirement within a Year/Term that is coded as green will yield a doctoral thesis in the expected 4-6 years.

 

Yellow (cautionary) zone: This is considered to be a cautionary zone.  For some students, spending some or most of the time in the Yellow Zone is not a problem as long as Milestone progress does not slip into the Red Zone.  This is especially true if performance is otherwise high (e.g., coursework is strong, the student has multiple research projects, the work has resulted in conference presentations and journal submissions), or if the student experienced a temporary research or personal setback that stalled progress for a short while.  For other students, time in the Yellow Zone may be viewed with a high degree of concern by faculty.  This is especially true when the outer range of the Yellow Zone is approaching without a successful Milestone event in sight, or when slow progress toward the degree is coupled with other signs of lackluster performance.  There are multiple factors that may place a student in this less optimal position.  These include unanticipated research setbacks, a nonproductive student-advisor relationship, personal setbacks caused by physical or mental health problems, a low degree of enthusiasm about the academic research track, or a sense of isolation from the departmental faculty and graduate student peers.  Regardless of the cause, it is imperative that students and faculty work together to identify the causes behind a problematic level of performance and develop a plan for positive change.  Students should not wait for faculty to determine that a problem exists – instead, if they are concerned about their progress they should confer with their advisor, Milestone committee members, the Program Chair, the Director of graduate Studies, and/or the Departmental Ombudsman.  Depending upon the factors that have slowed performance, appropriate actions could include changing research projects, adjusting the scope of a Milestone, switching advisors, seeking clinical care, asking for a leave of absence from the program, withdrawal from the training program, etc.

 

Red (danger) zone:  Students who reach the Red Zone will be placed on Provisional Status.  Entry into Provisional Status will trigger a formal letter outlining the performance criteria that need to be met (including dates for successful completion) to avoid even more formal actions, such as progression to University Probation or termination from the student’s doctoral training program.

 

C.  Productivity and experience targets

 

A student’s rate of progress through the various training milestones provides a valuable internal measure of a performance.  But students should also be mindful that individuals who are external to the department will typically give more weight to measures of achievement that appear within an individual’s curriculum vitae.  The most important of these measures is the number of peer-reviewed publications, especially first-authored publications.  A variety of other measures, such as the number of conference presentations, history of honors and awards, and documented teaching and mentoring experience, also tend to receive close examination.  With this in mind, the department has also established the following recommendations for students:

 

1.  Students are encouraged to present their work locally at least several times during their graduate career.  There are multiple poster session opportunities each year and program-level brown bags that provide valuable training opportunities.

2.  Students should present a first-author poster or talk at a national forum at least every other year.  Students interested in an academic research career should strive to leave the program with at least three national conference presentations, with at least two of these being first-author submissions.

3.  Students should aim to submit their initial first-author publication by the end of their 3rd year.  An earlier submission is possible, and the lack of a submission by the end of the 4th year is a point of concern.  The first paper will often derive from the Master’s thesis.

4. Throughout training, students should aim to be working on 1-3 research projects at any given time (not necessarily all as the first author).  The number of projects will depend upon several factors, including the amount of effort each project requires, the research environment in which the student is situated, and the ability of the student to juggle multiple projects and responsibilities.

5.  Students should tackle a dissertation project that is expected to produce at least one first-author publication.  This work should be submitted within one year of completing the dissertation.

6.  Students interested in an academic research career should strive to leave the program with at least two submitted publications and a third in preparation from the dissertation.  At least two of these publications should be first-author publications.

7.  All students should develop a teaching philosophy and record of teaching success.  Students interested in a teaching career should have experience teaching two or more different courses.

8.  Students are encouraged to take advantage of undergraduate mentoring opportunities, which can help develop and document research training and mentorship skills. 

9.  Students are encouraged to seek out and take advantage of opportunities to compete for fellowships and other academic awards.  These can provide valuable sources of funding and they serve as indicators of research quality and intellectual achievement.

 

D.  Evaluation of student progress

 

Each program is expected to provide their students with an annual letter of evaluation.  These efforts will be complemented by a departmental review process, which will particularly focus on each student’s milestone progress.  At the beginning of each summer, the self-report data submitted by each student will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies. Each student will be sent a standardized letter that will indicate his or her current zone, along with recommended milestone goals for the coming year.  For any student who is at risk of entering the “red zone” in the coming fall term, the letter will also serve as a warning that the student must take one of the following actions by Sept. 1st of the relevant year to avoid placement on Provisional Status:

 

1) provide documentation that expected milestone has already been successfully completed.

2) successfully complete the required milestone before the start of the fall semester.

3) file a petition for an extension of the "yellow zone" time line that is accepted by the Graduate Education Committee.  A petition will take the form of a letter addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies and it must be received before the start of the fall term.  The petition must clearly state the extenuating factors that account for the delay in progress and it must provide a clear plan for how and when the delay in completing the relevant milestone will be overcome.  It is expected that “yellow zone extensions” will be granted only in rare instances.  Students are advised to confer with the Director of Graduate Students and with the Chairs(s) of their training program(s) to obtain feedback on the likely outcome of a petition effort.

4) request a leave of absence or withdraw from training.

 

At the first GEC meeting of each fall term, the progress of students who were at risk for entry into provisional status will be reviewed.  Students with pending petitions will be invited to attend this meeting to present their case, if desired.  Any student who has failed to meet the milestone deadline and (a) who is not granted a yellow-zone extension, or (b) not requested a leave of absence or withdrawn from training will receive a letter indicating that they are now on Provisional Status.  The letter will indicate that the student must satisfactorily complete the required milestone by December 31st of the current year, or else a final decision will be made to terminate the student.  The effective date of the termination will be April 30th of the coming spring semester, so that students will always have a final semester to make new plans and make one last effort to wrap up a Masters or Doctoral thesis.

 

 

                                                                                                           

Master’s Thesis Proposal Form

Clinical Psychology Program

Department of Psychology

University of Pittsburgh

 

 

 

Student Name: _______________________________________________________________

 

 

Thesis Title: __________________________________________________________________

 

        _______________________________________________________________________

 

        _______________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Date Proposal Approved: _________________

 

 

Committee Members:(printed name/signature)

 

Advisor/Chair:_______________________________________________________________

 

 

Member:____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Member: ____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Member: ____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Complete following successful defense of master’s thesis proposal and give to the secretary of the Clinical Psychology Program.

 

                                               

 

 

Specialty Paper Proposal Form

 

Clinical Psychology Program

Department of Psychology

University of Pittsburgh

 

 

 

Student Name: _______________________________________________________________

 

 

Specialty Paper Title: __________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Date Proposal Approved: _________________

 

 

Committee Members: (printed name/signature)

 

Advisor/Chair:_______________________________________________________________

 

 

Member:____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Member: ____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Member: ____________________________________________________________________

 

 

Complete following successful defense of specialty paper proposal and give to the secretary of the Clinical Psychology Program.

 

 

 

 

       

Teaching Requirement Form

 

Clinical Psychology Program

Department of Psychology

University of Pittsburgh

 

 

 

Student Name: _______________________________________________________________

 

 

Course and Term Taught: _____________________________________________________

 

 

Term Teaching of Psychology (PSY 2970) or Practicum on University Teaching (FACDEV 2200) Completed: _____________________________________________________________

 

 

Faculty Supervisor Name: _____________________________________________________

 

 

Faculty Supervisor Signature/Date: _____________________________________________

 

 

 

 

Complete following successful fulfillment of the teaching requirement and give to the secretary of the Clinical Psychology Program.