Comprehensive Examinations and Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

The PhD in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences requires a comprehensive examination, unlike the Clinical PhD program. Currently, the Clinical PhD requires that students sit for a traditional written competence examination and undergo an oral examination by a team of faculty members. In keeping with the orientation of the ACBS concentration, students will be expected to follow a different examination path and produce a written literature review. It is expected that this literature review will be a detailed, scholarly review suitable for publication.

In order to assess students' scholarship and critical thinking in cognitive psychology/neuroscience, a comprehensive examination is required by the end of the second year of study. Successful completion of the comprehensive examination is a concentration requirement. The examination consists of a critical, in-depth review article on a topic to be agreed upon by the student, his/her mentor, and one additional faculty reader, with these individuals approving an abstract of the paper in advance. This review article must demonstrate comprehensive empirical and theoretical mastery of the agreed-upon topic, including relevant knowledge on which the specific research area is based. If the article is not specifically on an applied topic, it should at least discuss relevant applications associated with the topic. This article should be in the form of and of sufficient quality to be submitted for publication in an appropriate peer reviewed journal. The faculty examiners will, by consensus, assign a grade of Fail, Low Pass, Pass, or High Pass to the article. After appropriate revisions based on faculty feedback (i.e., after the article has been graded by the faculty examiners), submission of this article for publication is strongly encouraged. The article may later be incorporated into the student’s doctoral dissertation. After the exam has received a passing grade, the student may teach an undergraduate special topics seminar based on the content of the article. This will help solidify the material for the student and also help to enrich the undergraduate offerings for advanced undergraduates.

Proposal for Psychology Doctoral Concentration

The review article constituting the comprehensive examination is due by the end of the second week of June of the student’s second year in the ACBS doctoral concentration. While an extension of time to complete this review may be granted depending upon special circumstances impacting the student’s progress, under no circumstances will the deadline be expended beyond the second week of July of the student’s second year. If the student fails the examination (i.e., the review article receives a failing grade), then the student may revise/rewrite the article according to examiner feedback, or may write a new review article on a new topic (due by the following June). The faculty examiners must approve the option selected. The comprehensive examination may only be attempted twice. If the student receives a second failing grade, then s/he may not continue in the doctoral program.

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Upon successful completion of the master's-level coursework during the first two years of the concentration and successful passing of the comprehensive examination, students will be admitted to doctoral candidacy. This will entail completion of the D-1 and D-2 forms (completed prior to taking the comprehensive examinations), as well as the D-3, D-4, and D-4a forms (completed upon successful passing of the exams).