Frequently Asked Questions

Academic FAQs

How do I receive important department announcements and share psychology-related information?

The most critical departmental listserv for graduate students is named PSYPHDGRADS. All graduate students are required to subscribe to it and may not unsubscribe. The listserv is designed to disseminate announcements and share psychology-related information, so please be sure to read all its messages. Go to the PSYPHDGRADS Listserv to subscribe using your USF email address.

The second critical departmental listserv is the one for your area concentration:

CLPSYCH Listserv, CNSPSYCH Listserv, or IOPSYCH Listserv

All students and faculty within the area concentration are required to subscribe to the Area listserv and may not unsubscribe. 

Where can I find the university’s policies and procedures for graduate students?

Please read the USF Graduate Catalog for further details and other Office of Graduate Studies and College policies: Psychology, M.A. (Along the Way)Psychology, Ph.D.

Where can I find information on Professional Conduct?

Professional conduct is often a sensitive issue in academic departments, and many people prefer not to discuss it. As a result, it is often only addressed after a serious problem has developed. To avoid such problems, it is important that everyone be aware of what is and is not acceptable professional behavior by members of the Psychology Department. The USF Student Code of Conduct is USF 6.0021. Three categories of behavior are particularly relevant: harassment of individuals, inappropriate relationships between instructors or research supervisors and students, and academic dishonesty. For details, please read the Professional Conduct sections of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

Where can I find the department’s policies, procedures, forms, and curriculum for graduate students?

Most are found on the Resources|Policies and Procedures|Student Policies and Procedures website. Detailed instructions are found in the department Graduate Student Handbook also on that same website. The I-O program has detailed instructions in their I-O Graduate Program Handbook on this webpage. It is typically updated every two years.

How can I become a Student Affiliate of the APA?

For graduate students in psychology, becoming a Student Affiliate of the American Psychological Association automatically enrolls you as a member of APA Graduate Students (APAGS). APAGS offers all its members opportunities to enhance their development towards a career in psychology and to shape the future of the discipline. gradPSYCH is the magazine of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) and is published quarterly— January, March, September and November. There is a bonus distribution edition Special Student Section published in the July/August Convention issue of APA's association magazine, Monitor on Psychology. The magazine's mission is to provide psychology graduate students with cutting-edge information on innovative psychology careers; financial information, training and supervision; graduate student lifestyle issues; and emerging trends in psychology practice, research, and education. See the APAGS website for more information.

How do I request a course waiver for previous graduate coursework?

If you have taken graduate courses that are equivalent to those required in our program, you will not need to retake them, provided that you petition in your first semester for a course waiver.  If a course waiver is granted, you may also petition for a transfer of credit toward the 80-credit minimum needed for the Ph.D. degree.  (Note, however, that most students will exceed the 80-credit minimum on their way to the doctoral degree.)  Previously completed research master’s theses must undergo a separate review process that can be initiated in consultation with your advisor.

Course waivers. For all incoming students, including those who enter with a Master’s degree, all of the course requirements from our Master of Arts (M.A.) Along the Way must be met either (1) by waiving the requirement based on courses already taken in a previous graduate program or (2) by taking the courses while at USF en route to the Ph.D. 

Obtaining a course waiver means that a student, by virtue of previous coursework, need not take a particular required course.  A waiver does not count as credits toward the degree, but it is a prerequisite to requesting a transfer of credits. The credit transfer procedure is described below. (If you plan to request waivers for more than 5 courses or 15 credits, please contact Laura Pierce before initiating the procedure for transferring credits.)

Please note that no final decision about waiving particular courses can be made prior to acceptance into the program. Each individual case must be evaluated by the concentration after admission. 

Students wishing to request course waivers on the basis of previous coursework should first discuss this possibility with their advisor, and then communicate with the USF professor who teaches each course that the student wishes to waive. The student must forward the USF instructor a copy of the syllabus from their previous course along with a request to consider whether a waiver is warranted. This request can be sent before or along with the department’s Course Waiver Form. The official application must include:

  1. a copy of the transcript showing the course, number of credits, and grade received,
  2. a syllabus or course description, and
  3. a list of the text(s) and readings if not contained in the syllabus or course description.

Note. The course(s) used to waive a required USF course must have the same number of credits (or more) in order to fully satisfy the USF requirement. The course waiver form (with the attached documentation) will require signatures of the USF instructor of the course to be waived, the student’s advisor, and the Area Director. You can use DocuSign to assist in requesting the signatures. Once these signatures are obtained, the form and supporting documentation should be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee, via Laura Pierce. 

The form and documentation should be submitted as early as possible in the student’s first semester.  Courses used to waive graduate degree requirements can be no more than ten years old at the time the Ph.D. degree is conferred.   

How do I transfer coursework from previous graduate institution?

If a student petitions for a course waiver and it is granted, the student has the option of following up with a credit transfer request. If approved, the credits from the course used to waive a requirement would apply to those needed for the USF doctoral degree. If a course from another institution or program is not judged to be equivalent to our course and no waiver is granted, then no transfer of credit for that course will be possible.

The transfer process can only be initiated after receiving a waiver for a course as outlined in the previous section.  Once the waiver has been approved, the student must complete the Transfer of Credit Form and submit it to the Graduate Program Committee, via Laura Pierce, to receive approval. Once approved by the department, the form will be forwarded to the College and the Office of Graduate Studies for their approval. 

Only graduate-level (5000-7999) structured coursework with a grade of B (3.00) or better is eligible for transfer. Courses with Pass/Fail (or S/U) grades are not eligible for transfer, nor are thesis credits. Grades from courses taken at other institutions are not calculated in the USF GPA, although the courses are listed on the transcript. 

With rare exceptions, students may transfer up to 15 credits toward the USF 80-credit doctoral degree minimum. (If a student obtains approval to waive courses totaling more than 15 credits in USF’s doctoral program, please contact Laura Pierce to determine if additional transfer options may apply.) Transferred courses must not be older than ten years at the time of graduation. If a student entering with a Master's degree wants to earn the USF Psychology Master’s Along the Way degree, the student must earn a minimum of 30 credits at USF in the Psychology doctoral program (including completion of a Master’s thesis at USF), regardless of the number of credits transferred in from a previously earned Master’s degree. 

Please note that no final decision about transferring credits from particular courses can be made prior to acceptance into the program. Each individual case must be evaluated by the concentration after admission. 

How do I change my classes after the drop/add week?

After the first week (past online drop/add deadline), students will no longer be able to make changes from graduate-level courses themselves online through OASIS. Students will be required to submit an Office of Graduate Studies Petition form and select "drop" or the appropriate action needed, along with a brief letter of justification, in order to have their request considered for approval. Students should fill out the form, sign on the student signature line, and obtain the signature of the Instructor(s). You can use DocuSign to assist in requesting the signatures. International students should also obtain the approval and signature of the International Services advisor. The petition form along with the justification letter should be submitted to Laura Pierce, who will obtain the Department signature and forward it to the College. Be careful to maintain the minimum total enrollment credit hours required for tuition waiver purposes.

What is the Responsible Conduct of Research requirement?

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) is a critical element in training for scholarship. New doctoral students at USF are required to have basic RCR training by completing the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) module most relevant to your program of study. The CITI modules have been designed to introduce researchers to various elements of research conduct ranging from research misconduct to data management to mentoring. As this is a minimum requirement, specific doctoral programs may require training that goes beyond the basic components introduced in this module. Furthermore, you must complete the module in the first semester you are enrolled in a doctoral program as a registration hold will be placed on your account; you will be unable to register for courses in a future semester until you have successfully fulfilled this RCR requirement. Once the training is completed, the Registration hold will be lifted. Please read the instructions on the website to register and complete the CITI training.

How do I find research participants?

Students may refer to the Division of Research Compliance’s website regarding procedures for gaining approval for research with both human and non-human participants. Research with humans is reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and research with non-human animals is reviewed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). All IRB submissions are within the online system called eIRB and can be accessed at the IRB website. Submissions are first routed to the department’s scientific reviewer before going on to the IRB. In no case may research commence without written approval from the appropriate University office. For details, please read the Research Participants section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

How do I use the USF online participant pool?

To begin using Sona, researchers must first request a researcher's account by emailing the participant pool administrator for your home campus (Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee). The contact information for each campus Sona administrator can be found here. Please include the name of the Psychology faculty member and/or graduate student with whom the researcher works in the email. Once the account is open, a researcher can create new studies in the system and submit those studies for approval by the pool administrator.

For details, please read the Use of USF Online Participant Pool section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

When should I submit my master’s thesis committee forms?

The department master’s thesis committee form and attachments must be submitted along with a college form signed by all committee members, and must be approved at least one week before the thesis proposal.

How do I form my master’s thesis committee?

The faculty member serving as major professor must be an active scholar and have at least one refereed publication in the prior three years. If the major professor is not an active faculty member within the student’s concentration of the Psychology Department, a co-major professor from the Department must be appointed.  

The thesis committee must consist of at least three tenured or tenure-earning faculty members from the Department of Psychology. At least one member must be from within the student’s concentration, and at least one member must be selected from another concentration in the department. CNS students must have one member from the student’s CNS concentration and one member either from outside the student’s CNS concentration or from the other doctoral concentrations (Clinical or I-O). For the purpose of determining to which concentration CNS faculty belong, please refer to the Department’s webpage listing of CNS faculty concentrations or to the CNS Area Director.

Scholars who have obtained Affiliate Graduate Faculty status may serve as a committee member from outside the concentration or outside the Psychology Department. Scholars who have obtained External Graduate Co-Advisor Status (as graduate faculty from other departments in USF or as Affiliate Graduate Faculty) may serve as committee members from within the concentration, and are eligible to co-direct with Psychology Graduate Faculty at the discretion of the Department. Affiliate membership is effective for up to three (3) years, following which a request for reaffirmation of approval to renew the Affiliate Membership is required. Lists of the eligible Affiliate Graduate Faculty and the eligible External Graduate Co-Advisors can be found on the department’s Faculty website. The appointment process, terms, rights and responsibilities are described on the department’s Resources|Faculty Policies and Procedures website. 

The department’s Master’s Thesis Committee Form must be submitted at least a week before the thesis proposal date to the Graduate Program Committee via Laura Pierce. (Degree-seekers: See also College Committee form in M.A. Along the Way Degree section.) Master’s thesis committee forms are due by the semester before graduation. For more details, read the Thesis/M.A. Committee and Thesis Research sections of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

How do I make changes to my master’s thesis committee?

Changes to the committee must also be approved by the Graduate Program Committee. A departmental Changes to Committee form must be filed. These forms are available on the department’s website and should be submitted to Laura Pierce for routing. (Degree-seekers: See also the College Changes to Committee form in M.A. Along the Way Degree section.) Students are required to justify committee changes. Typically, scheduling difficulties are not sufficient reasons for requesting such changes. Any final changes to committee forms are due in the semester before degree conferral.

Should the faculty status of any committee member change (e.g., through retirement or resignation from a faculty position at USF), the Graduate Program Committee must be notified in writing. It is possible that the committee will have to be reconstituted if it no longer meets the criteria set forth above.

What steps do I take to complete my Master’s thesis proposal?

Prior to beginning the Master’s thesis, students must pass a qualifying examination consisting of an oral and written proposal of a research plan for the thesis project.  A written thesis proposal must be submitted to the thesis committee for approval.  The thesis proposal should set forth a research plan that would advance the state of knowledge in a student’s chosen area. The design should permit reasonable explanations even for null results.  Once the thesis advisor has approved the proposal, a defense meeting may be scheduled.  Typically, a copy of the thesis proposal is distributed to the committee at least 1-2 weeks prior to the proposal meeting.  The thesis proposal must be submitted to the committee in hard copy or electronically, depending on what each member requests. A thesis proposal consists, at a minimum, of a literature review, method, proposed analyses, references, and (if applicable) appendices.  During the proposal meeting, the thesis proposal is discussed, and suggestions for improvement are made.  It is recommended that students obtain committee approval of the thesis proposal prior to submitting their research proposal for IRB approval.  The student will fill out and obtain the thesis committee member’s signatures through DocuSign on the Certification that the Master’s Qualifying Examination/Thesis Proposal Defense Has Been Passed Form. The signed form should be submitted to Laura Pierce for the student’s record.

How many credit hours must I complete to fulfill the master’s thesis research requirement?

The master’s thesis must be completed within five years of admission.  All students must register for at least six hours of PSY 6971 Thesis credit at any time prior to the final defense of the thesis, if they plan to obtain an M.A. degree (see M.A. Degree section). Students not planning to obtain an M.A. Along the Way degree should register for at least six hours of PSY 6917 Directed Research credit.

For more details, read the Thesis Research section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

Where can I learn how to format the Thesis manuscript?

ETD Processes and Formatting Workshops -- All students must also submit their thesis/dissertation for a formatting review before their manuscript can be accepted by the university. Guidelines for the formatting of ETD documents, can be found at this link. Workshop registration and attendance at one of the workshops is required in the semester PRIOR TO final manuscript submission (for example, attend a workshop in spring or summer before fall manuscript submission). See their website to register for a workshop and for the schedule. There is an online option for off-campus students, see their website for instructions. ETD Boot Camp Help Sessions are also available for help on all aspects of the ETD process, see their website for schedule.

How do I reserve a room for my Thesis/Dissertation proposal or final defense?

To reserve a room for your thesis/dissertation, make sure you provide as much notice as possible. If you are proposing or defending your thesis or dissertation, it is your responsibility to reserve a room as soon as you have finalized the date and time for your proposal/defense. To reserve a room if not virtual remote meeting, use the online Room Reservation Request Form. If you have questions regarding your room reservation contact Heather Saladino. Typically a thesis defense is scheduled to last about one hour and a dissertation defense about two hours.

Do I need a Defense Chair for the Thesis Defense?

You do NOT need a Defense Chair for the master’s thesis defense. (One is needed only for the doctoral dissertation defense.)

What forms are required for the Thesis Defense?

Students must be enrolled in at least two Thesis credit hours. Defenses should be requested at least two weeks before the scheduled defense date, or not later than the department deadline date if expecting to graduate in the semester. Submit an electronic draft of your thesis to committee members at least TWO WEEKS BEFORE defense date, and also fill out and email your defense announcement to Laura Pierce (use the Thesis Defense Announcement template). Theses must be successfully defended before or in the semester you expect to graduate, and defended preferably one week in advance of the Final Manuscript Submission (Thesis) deadline to allow for revisions. Students should try to avoid scheduling defenses during June, July, and August.

Procedures:

Before the actual defense date, the student will need to convert their Successful Defense form (Master’s Thesis) into Adobe PDF then upload the form into DocuSign and set signing order for all required thesis committee faculty signatures and dates, last in order include Laura Pierce to Allow to Manage, so that the form is all set up and ready to go.

After the defense, then all committee members will need to go into DocuSign to electronically sign and date the Successful Defense form, which will then be sent via DocuSign to Laura Pierce. If you would like this news of your successful defense to be shared via the usfpsychology Instagram account after the defense, please take a screen shot before, during, or after the defense and please send it to Dr. Vicky Phares. And if you would like to be tagged in the post, please provide your Instagram handle as well. 

Use a similar process for the ETD Certificate of Approval Form that is one of the documents required for the Final Manuscript Submission process.  Students need to fill out the form and upload into DocuSign, set signing order for yourself the student first and also all required thesis committee faculty signatures and dates, include Dr. Jennifer Bosson will sign as Program Director (or if she is your major professor Dr. Stephen Stark), and last in order add Laura Pierce as 'Allow to Manage'. When it is complete you will then download the signed form to email to ETD along with the other documents needed to complete the Final Manuscript Submission Process.

DocuSign – Create a DocuSign account before trying to access a PDF document that may be sent to you for electronic signature. DocuSign sends out different email prompts that documents in DocuSign are waiting for your signature, are being reviewed, are completed. See the DocuSign web page for details. Instructions can be found here.

How to I scan from a phone?

The Scannable app by Evernote works well.

Scannable App – Scannable instantly recognizes business cards, receipts, and any other paper you point it at. Whiteboards, too. Scans are automatically cropped and enhanced, producing crystal clear digital documents.

You may in conjunction with your committee hold a virtual remote defense meeting. Shaine Blanco will also be available regarding IT questions. Read the additional information under the Request for the Dissertation Defense section. 

The department requires that the student submit the final formatted or Office of Graduate Studies version of your thesis and a current CV in pdf format via email to Laura Pierce. The file names should include your full name and the word 'thesis' or 'vita'.

What if one of my committee members cannot attend the thesis defense?

Anyone may attend the examination, but only committee members may vote on the oral defense. The major professor (or at least one of the co-major professors) must be physically present at the thesis defense (barring department or university restrictions implemented for public health reasons).  In the event that a committee member cannot attend in person, participation is permissible via speaker phone or video conference. You may in conjunction with your committee hold a virtual remote defense meeting. Shaine Blanco will also be available regarding IT questions.

The information below is provided by the Office of Graduate Studies. Beyond the information below, the recommended synchronous conferencing tools—and, importantly, IT supported tools—during our effort to maintain academic continuity are Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Attendance

It is desirable for all members of the final oral examination committee to be present physically during the entire examination. If this is impossible, video conferencing may be approved by the College Dean and the Office of Graduate Studies. If video conferencing is approved, the student, the Major Professor (or, if Co-Major Professors, at least one), and the Outside Chair for the defense must be physically present. Other faculty members and graduate students may physically or virtually attend the examination.

Video Conferencing

Graduate programs must adhere to the following if the final oral examination involves video conferencing. Departments can enforce stricter guidelines. Video conferencing may not be ideal in all circumstances.

Facilities and Support Requirements

The video conferencing room must allow the candidate and all members of the examination committee to see and hear one another during the entire examination. There must be appropriate software/hardware available for the transmission of any text, graphics, photographs, or writing referred to or generated during the examination. Audio-only communications are not permitted.

Prior to the defense, the student must agree to the video conferencing set-up. The student and Major Professor must confirm in advance that the video conferencing setup is satisfactory. On the day of the defense, if the video conferencing capabilities differ significantly from the initial agreement as noted on the Request for the Dissertation Defense form, then the student may cancel the examination without penalty. Any technical support staff required to operate equipment must observe strict confidentiality.

The video conference must be scheduled for a three and a half hour time period to allow for any delays resulting from technical issues during the dissertation defense. Should a technical failure arise, the Outside Chair in consultation with the Major Professor and other committee members will determine if the examination should continue. If the examination is cancelled, the examination will be rescheduled and there will be no penalty to the student.

All committee members must record their vote on the Successful Defense form. Offsite committee members must sign a copy of the Successful Defense form (completed within the College) and send it back to the Major Professor as soon as possible, but no later than a week after the defense date.

What is the process for the master’s thesis Final Manuscript Submission?

Carefully read all of the Final Manuscript Submission instructions. A master’s thesis process checklist is available here. Students must be enrolled for at least two thesis credit hours in the semester they submit the final manuscript.

Do I have to get a master’s degree?

All students are required to complete a thesis research project. Students may choose to submit the Thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies so they can be awarded a formal Master’s degree (M.A. Along the Way). However, a formal M.A. Along the Way degree is not a requirement for the Ph.D. and students may continue with their doctoral major as soon as they have completed the Thesis requirement. The Master of Arts Along the Way degree must be completed within five years (end of fall semester of year 4 for I-O) from the date of admission. In addition to the thesis research requirement described above, students who wish to pursue the formal M.A. Along the Way degree from the Office of Graduate Studies must also comply with the guidelines. Note that the M.A. Along the Way degree is required for the clinical concentration, but not for the I-O or CNS concentrations. However, a Master's degree is required for any student to serve as a course instructor. It is highly recommended that all CNS students obtain a Master of Arts Along the Way degree. For more details, please read the program requirements by concentration in the department Graduate Student Handbook. Students are free to choose the formal M.A. Along the Way option at any point in time prior to completion of the Ph.D. in which case they will have to follow the process established by the Office of Graduate Studies. Students should note that the USF System requires a graduate teaching assistant to hold a master’s degree in order to be an instructor of record for undergraduate courses. The instructor must hold a master’s degree in the teaching discipline (i.e., Psychology) or hold at least a master’s degree in any area and have completed at least 18 graduate credit hours in the teaching discipline. Typically, incoming students who enter with a master’s degree must fulfill all of the requirements for USF’s Master’s Along the Way to be eligible to become the instructor of record for an undergraduate course. Additional recommended preparation for teaching an undergraduate course includes gaining content knowledge through related graduate coursework as well as serving as a course assistant or lab instructor for the undergraduate course of interest. For more details, read the M.A. Along the Way Degree section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

What forms are required for the master’s degree?

For the Master of Arts (M.A.) Along the Way degree application there are two steps:

  1.  the online degree application through OASIS , and 
  2. the M.A. Along the Way document packet which consists of three documents.

Both must be submitted by the department deadline, and both are required if expecting to graduate in the semester. If either one is submitted past the deadline, then your name will not appear in the commencement program. Early in the semester in which the thesis will be defended, the student should submit a degree application and graduation survey before the deadline. To begin the survey and apply for the degree, login to OASIS using your Net ID and self-assigned password, then click on the Student menu and select 'Apply for Graduation.' The OASIS online degree application will not allow you to apply for the M.A. Along the Way degree. OASIS will only allow Ph.D. degree entry because of your doctoral student status in our doctoral Ph.D. Psychology program.  Go ahead and submit it anyway for the doctoral Ph.D. degree because after the College receives your Master’s Along the Way packet document, then they will change it in the OASIS system.  You must apply for the degree online before you submit the Master’s Along the Way packet document.

In addition to but after you submit the online degree application through OASIS, then you must also fill out the Master’s Along the Way packet document, which consists of three items: the Master’s Along the Way PDF form, a Degree Planner plan of study, and a check-marked unofficial transcript.

  1. Master’s Along the Way PDF Form: In the comprehensive exams expected semester section, insert the semester and year of your Thesis Proposal. Enter the year in the Catalog Year cell. For both the Ph.D. and M.A. rows enter CIP codes 42.0101, Dept code PSY, Major code PSY, Concentration codes: CL=PSC, CNS=PCN, or I-O=PSI.
  2. Degree Planner Plan of Study: From the USF Catalog Psychology, M.A. catalog, use the Print Degree Planner feature to save your plan of study, previous years catalogs require that you and fill in the semester and year for each course that should count towards the M.A. Along the Way degree.
  3. Check-marked Unofficial Transcript:  On your unofficial transcript, insert checkmarks next to each course that should count towards the M.A. Along the Way degree. 

Combine the Master’s Along the Way form, M.A. Plan of Study, and marked unofficial transcript into one PDF document packet. Email the packet document to Laura Pierce as soon as possible before or no later than the department deadline. She will upload the packet to DocuSign, set the signing order for your signature, your (co-)major professor(s), department Graduate Program Director (or Chair), and will submit the packet to the College. You will be copied on the email submission. Later in the semester, Laura will submit a final degree certification form and your signed successful defense form to the College. An electronic copy of the final manuscript is required by the Office of Graduate Studies. Prior to submission, the student should review University format requirements, forms, and deadline as specified at the same url. Students who are planning to receive their M.A. Along the Way degree should take the Successful Defense form (Master’s Thesis) and the ETD Certificate of Approval Form for Theses and Dissertations to their defense or beforehand upload them to DocuSign since they need all of the committee members’ signatures. The ETD Certificate of Approval Form is part of the Office of Graduate Studies’ final manuscript submission process, and the form’s link is available on their ETD website.

How many credit hours must I complete prior to final thesis manuscript submission or prior to a master’s degree?

The Master’s thesis must be completed within five years of admission.  Students must meet all University requirements for the M.A. Along the Way degree as described in the Graduate Catalog.  A total of 30 credit hours in graduate level psychology courses are required, including core content and basic methods courses.  A research thesis is required (as described above), with a minimum of six (6) hours of thesis credit (PSY6971) that count toward the required 30, completed prior to the final defense of the thesis.  (Individual concentrations may require more than 30 hours for accreditation.)  With the approval of the Graduate Program Committee, students can petition to count up to three (3) Directed Research PSY6917 hours towards the required thesis hours requirement (see the department website for the "Petition to Substitute Directed Research Hours for Thesis/Dissertation Hours").  Students not planning to obtain an M.A. Along the Way degree should register for at least six hours of PSY6917 Directed Research credit.

For details, please read the M.A. Along the Way Degree section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

Is there a checklist guide to the master’s degree requirements?

M.A. Along the Way Requirements Timeline Guide:

  • committee selection
  • department and college* committee forms

  • attend ETD workshop in a semester prior to final manuscript submission

  • draft of proposal to committee 1-2 weeks before proposal date

  • thesis proposal

  • signed Certification that the Master’s Qualifying Examination Thesis Proposal Defense Has Been Passed form
  • OASIS degree application for graduation (by deadline or name may not appear in commencement booklet), and then also the Master’s Along the Way form, M.A. Plan of Study, check-marked unofficial transcript to Laura Pierce (by earlier department deadline)

  • ETD registration online* (by deadline or name may not appear in commencement booklet)

  • Create new account on USF ProQuest website*

  • set defense date with committee; room reservation request online form.

  • thesis draft to committee 1-2 weeks before defense date

  • email to Laura thesis defense announcement

  • thesis defense, and signed Successful Defense form (Master’s)  

  • final manuscript submission* (by deadline)

  • department pdf files of thesis and vita

  • commencement*

*degree-seeking students only

What course should I register for in the following semester after the final thesis submission was completed (after master’s degree was received) and while taking comprehensive exams or MAP (or working on dissertation proposal prior to candidacy status)?

In the following semester after the final thesis submission was completed, and after the master’s degree was received, and while taking comprehensive exams or MAP, or while working on the dissertation proposal prior to candidacy status, during this time students should register for the PSY 7918 Directed Research course assigned to their major professor (or Dr. Stark if during summer semester). If needed, students may later count up to 6 credit hours of PSY 7918 Directed Research towards the required total 12 dissertation hours. Students should NOT register for any more Thesis credits. Students may not register for dissertation hours until the following semester after their doctoral candidacy has been formally approved by the university. 

What determines the program of study and training beyond the master’s level?

The major of study and training beyond the M.A. level is determined both by departmental and concentration requirements and by the student's Ph.D. advisor and committee. A total minimum of 50 Post-Master’s or 80 Post-Bachelors hours with a minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for the Ph.D. degree. Individual concentrations may require more than 80 hours for accreditation. Students must successfully pass completion of a Comprehensive Qualifying Examination. In some circumstances students may write and successfully pass a defense of a Major Area Paper (MAP) in lieu of a written examination. The written examination over the subject matter of the student's major and related fields may be taken after the student possesses the master’s degree or (for those not completing the formal M.A.) has fulfilled the thesis research requirement, has completed the substantial majority of doctoral coursework, and has fulfilled the area’s stated requirements for taking the comprehensive exam. The exam must be taken again if the doctoral degree is not conferred within five calendar years after successful completion of the comprehensive examination. Please note that the Admission to Candidacy form should be submitted for approval no later than the semester following the successful completion of the comprehensive exam (see Admission to Candidacy section). For details, read the Ph.D. Comprehensive Qualifying Examination section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

What forms are needed prior to or after completing the comprehensive examination or the major area paper?

For the clinical area, the Request to Sit for Comp Exams form is required prior to taking the exams/MAP. Please see the Clinical Comprehensive Examination Rules.

For the CNS area, the Approval of the Plan for the CNS Comprehensive Exam/Major Area Paper form is required prior to taking the exams/MAP. After the exam or MAP has been passed, then the Certification that the CNS Comprehensive Exam/Major Area Paper Has Been Passed form is required.

For the I-O area, in lieu of a form it is done via email from the Area Director. Please see the I-O Comprehensive Exams Guidelines and these are also included in the I-O Handbook. Also, see the doctoral dissertation committee forms section.

When should I submit my doctoral dissertation committee forms?

Students are expected to form the Ph.D. committee shortly after completion of the M.A. thesis. Typically, students submit for approval both a department dissertation committee form and a signed College committee form at least two weeks before taking the comprehensive exam/MAP proposal (or their dissertation proposal or admission to doctoral candidacy). Committees are selected by the student and advisor, and committees must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee at least two weeks before the dissertation proposal. The department’s Dissertation Committee Form along with its attachments, and the college’s Graduate Student Supervisory Committee Appointment Form. Both must be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee via Laura Pierce, preferably using DocuSign. If proposed members include individuals outside the department who are not affiliated or courtesy faculty, their current CVs must accompany the forms. The College also requires that any non-USF faculty’s CV accompany the forms as well.

How do I make changes to my doctoral dissertation committee?

Changes to the Ph.D. committee must also be approved by the Graduate Program Committee. Both a departmental Changes to Committee form and its attachments along with a signed college Changes to Committee form are required at least three weeks prior to the final defense. Any final changes to committee forms are due in the semester before degree conferral. Students are required to justify changes. Typically, scheduling difficulties are not sufficient reasons for requesting such changes. Should the faculty status of any committee member change (e.g., through resignation from a faculty position at USF), the Graduate Program Committee must be notified in writing. It is possible that the committee will have to be reconstituted if it no longer meets the criteria set forth in the department Graduate Student Handbook.

How do I form my doctoral dissertation committee?

Composition of the committee is described in the Ph.D. Committee section of the Graduate Student Handbook. The department faculty member serving as major professor must be an active scholar, have at least one refereed publication in the prior three years, and have served on a minimum of two thesis committees. If the major professor is not an active faculty member of the Psychology Department, a co-major professor from the Department must be appointed.  

The Ph.D. supervisory committee must consist of at least five full-time tenured or tenure-earning faculty members. Three members must be full-time faculty within the Department of Psychology and in the student's departmental concentration. At least one of the remaining two members must be a full-time faculty member from within the Department of Psychology but outside the student's departmental concentration (for CNS students, outside the student’s C, N, or S focus area). The fifth member must be chosen from outside the Department of Psychology. To determine to which concentration CNS faculty belong, please refer to the Department’s webpage listing of CNS faculty or to the CNS Area Director.

An Affiliate Graduate Faculty member may serve as a committee member from outside the Concentration or outside the Psychology Department. Scholars with External Graduate Co-Advisor Status (for graduate faculty from other departments in USF or Affiliate Graduate Faculty) may serve as committee members from within the Concentration and are eligible to co-direct with Psychology Graduate Faculty at the discretion of the department. Lists of the Affiliate Graduate Faculty and the External Graduate Co-Advisor faculty are on the department’s Faculty website. Their appointment process, terms, rights and responsibilities can be found on the department’s Resources|Faculty Policies and Procedures website. If justified, a sixth member of the Ph.D. Committee may be requested. Should the faculty status of any committee member change (e.g., through retirement or resignation from a faculty position at USF), the Graduate Program Committee must be notified in writing. It is possible that the committee will have to be reconstituted if it no longer meets the criteria set forth above.  

May I proceed with my dissertation proposal before applying to or being admitted into doctoral candidacy?

Students may proceed with their dissertation proposal before applying to or being admitted into doctoral candidacy status, based on the condition that at least two weeks prior to the dissertation proposal date both the department and college doctoral dissertation committee forms were submitted and approved. For details, please read the Dissertation section in the department Graduate Student Handbook.

Is there a Specialization (formerly called Minor) requirement?

A specialization (formerly called minor) area of study is required by the CNS concentration for admission to Ph.D. candidacy.  The specialization requirement may be met by the completion of two graduate-level courses with a minimum grade of "B-" in each course. A specialization may consist of graduate study in a department concentration (or concentrations) other than the student's own, or in other departments, providing the courses are appropriate to the goals of the student at the doctoral level of study. Graduate work completed prior to matriculation into the doctoral major will normally not be accepted as meeting the requirements of the graduate specialization. Courses used to satisfy the specialization requirement may not be used to satisfy the tools of research requirement. Before starting specialization coursework, submit the Request for Graduate Specialization form that is available on the department’s website. For details, read the Specialization Requirement section of the department Graduate Student Handbook.

Is there a Tools of Research requirement?

All graduate students must complete a series of methods courses beyond the core methods requirements with a grade of "B-" or better to satisfy their concentration’s requirements of "research tools" for their Ph.D. major. Students may select their tools courses from departmental offerings or from offerings in other departments. Courses used to satisfy the tools of research requirement may not be used to satisfy the specialization requirement. They also may not be used for a given concentration’s seminar requirement. Tools courses are those that deal primarily with research design, data collection techniques, quantitative or qualitative analytic methods, or instrumentation.

Students in I-O and CNS should receive written approval before starting tools coursework. Students must submit a detailed description of the proposed tools courses to their M.A. or Ph.D. committee for approval. This proposal will contain descriptions of courses planned, an explanation of the relationship of the proposed courses to the primary course of study, and an appropriate time for completion of the courses. A copy of the approved course of study must then be submitted to the Graduate Program Committee (via Laura Pierce) for its review and approval. The Tools of Research Form is available on the department’s website; please use DocuSign.

When should I apply for admission to doctoral candidacy?

The Admission to Candidacy form should be submitted for approval (preferably using DocuSign) no later than the semester following the successful completion of the comprehensive examination or MAP.  Students typically reach candidacy within four years of admission. To be admitted to doctoral candidacy, students must meet the following requirements at USF:

  • Completion of M.A. Along the Way requirements
  • Approval of department and college dissertation committee forms prior to submission of application
  • Completion of concentration course requirements for admission to candidacy (including specialization courses for CNS)
  • Successful completion of comprehensive examination or major area paper (MAP)
  • Have no 'M' or 'I' grades
  • Have minimum overall GPA of 3.00
  • Have met all enrollment requirements
  • Be enrolled in at least two graduate credits in the semester that the Admission to Doctoral Candidacy form is submitted

Submission of application for doctoral candidacy using the form available on the Office of Graduate Studies’ website. For more details, please read the Requirements for Admission to Doctoral Candidacy section in the department Graduate Student Handbook.

Do I need a Defense Chair for my Dissertation defense?

The Dissertation Defense (or Final Oral Examination) shall be presided by either an external committee member (who will participate in the voting) OR an Outside Chair who is a senior and distinguished scholar from outside the department (possession of an appropriate terminal degree, preferably a full professor or having appropriate expertise, and an active scholar having at least one refereed publication in the prior three years), nominated by the Major Professor. If the Defense Chair is from another institution, this individual should have the equivalent qualifications necessary to chair a dissertation defense in the subject area at the University of South Florida. Note that the Major Professor may not serve as the "Defense Chair". This individual represents the university at the defense. He or she is selected by the student and the Ph.D. advisor with approval of the Associate Dean of the College. 

What forms are needed for the Dissertation Defense?

Three forms comprise a Request for the Dissertation Defense Packet (Request, Announcement, and Successful).  Students must be enrolled in at least two dissertation credit hours. Defense Request packets are to be submitted electronically to Laura Pierce two-and-1/2 weeks before the scheduled defense date, or not later than the department deadline date if expecting to graduate in the semester. Dissertations must be defended successfully before or in the semester you expect to graduate, and defended preferably one week or at least several days in advance of the Final Manuscript Submission (Dissertation) deadline to allow for revisions. Students should try to avoid scheduling defenses during June, July and August. Your major professor can help you select an oral Defense Chair (senior faculty with at least one pub in prior three years, person outside the department if you do not already have an external person as a member of your committee). At least four weeks prior to the scheduled defense date, committee members and defense chair should receive an electronic copy of the dissertation draft. The dissertation draft may be submitted electronically to the committee members and defense chair. The document should be in APA format, but for the purpose of the committee review, it may be submitted with 1 ½ spacing. After distributing the draft, the student must fill out and obtain electronic signatures using DocuSign by all committee members on the Request for the Dissertation Defense form. This form can only be signed by dissertation committee members after they have reviewed the dissertation draft, indicating their agreement that the dissertation is ready to defend. Also, the student will need to fill out a public Announcement of the Defense form and an (unsigned) Successful Defense form. These three forms are required and must be submitted electronically via DocuSign (Request) and email (Announcement, Successful Defense) to Laura Pierce ready to send to the college at least 2 ½ weeks prior to the defense. 

#1 of 3 Request for Dissertation Defense – Completely fill out the form and convert to Adobe PDF. Using DocuSign this Form needs all Committee signatures and dates, and Dr. Jennifer Bosson (or Dr. Stephen Stark if Dr. Bosson is your major professor) signs for Dept. Chairperson at this time.

And #2 of 3 Defense Announcement – (To reserve a room if not virtual remote meeting, use the online Room Reservation Request Form.) Fill out completely and email the form to Laura Pierce along with #3 Successful Defense Form (no signatures at this time).

And #3 of 3 Successful Defense Form – Fill out completely (no signatures at this time) and email the form to Laura Pierce along with #2 Announcement.

Procedures:

Before the actual defense date, the student will need to convert their Successful Defense form (Doctoral Dissertation) into Adobe PDF then upload the form into DocuSign and set signing order for all required dissertation committee faculty and defense chair signatures and dates, also last in order include Laura Pierce to Allow to Manage, so that the form is all set up and ready to go.

After the defense, then the defense chair and all committee members will need to go into DocuSign to electronically sign and date the Successful Defense form, which will then be sent via DocuSign to Laura Pierce.  If you would like this news of your successful defense to be shared via the usfpsychology Instagram account after the defense, please take a screen shot before, during, or after the defense and please send it to Dr. Vicky Phares. And if you would like to be tagged in the post, please provide your Instagram handle as well. 

Use a similar process for the ETD Certificate of Approval Form that is one of the documents required for the Final Manuscript Submission process. Students need to fill out the form and upload into DocuSign, set signing order for yourself the student first and also all required dissertation committee faculty signatures and dates, include Dr. Jennifer Bosson will sign as Program Director (or if she is your major professor Dr. Stephen Stark), last in order add Laura Pierce as ‘Allow to Manage’.  When it is complete you will then download the signed form to email to ETD along with the other documents needed to complete the Final Manuscript Submission Process.

DocuSign – Create a DocuSign account before trying to access a PDF document that may be sent to you for electronic signature. DocuSign sends out different email prompts that documents in DocuSign are waiting for your signature, are being reviewed, are completed. See the DocuSign web page for details. Instructions can be found here.

How to I scan from a phone?

The Scannable app by Evernote works well.

Scannable App – Scannable instantly recognizes business cards, receipts, and any other paper you point it at. Whiteboards, too. Scans are automatically cropped and enhanced, producing crystal clear digital documents.

You may in conjunction with your committee hold a virtual remote defense meeting. Shaine Blanco will also be available regarding IT questions.

The information below is provided by the Office of Graduate Studies. Beyond the information below, the recommended synchronous conferencing tools—and, importantly, IT supported tools—during our effort to maintain academic continuity are Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Attendance

It is desirable for all members of the final oral examination committee to be present physically during the entire examination. If this is impossible, video conferencing may be approved by the College Dean and the Office of Graduate Studies. If video conferencing is approved, the student, the Major Professor (or, if Co-Major Professors, at least one), and the Outside Chair for the defense must be physically present. Other faculty members and graduate students may physically or virtually attend the examination.

Video Conferencing

Graduate programs must adhere to the following if the final oral examination involves video conferencing. Departments can enforce stricter guidelines. Video conferencing may not be ideal in all circumstances.

Facilities and Support Requirements

The video conferencing room must allow the candidate and all members of the examination committee to see and hear one another during the entire examination. There must be appropriate software/hardware available for the transmission of any text, graphics, photographs, or writing referred to or generated during the examination. Audio-only communications are not permitted.

Prior to the defense, the student must agree to the video conferencing set-up. The student and Major Professor must confirm in advance that the video conferencing setup is satisfactory. On the day of the defense, if the video conferencing capabilities differ significantly from the initial agreement as noted on the Request for the Dissertation Defense form, then the student may cancel the examination without penalty. Any technical support staff required to operate equipment must observe strict confidentiality.

The video conference must be scheduled for a three and a half hour time period to allow for any delays resulting from technical issues during the dissertation defense. Should a technical failure arise, the Outside Chair in consultation with the Major Professor and other committee members will determine if the examination should continue. If the examination is cancelled, the examination will be rescheduled and there will be no penalty to the student.

All committee members must record their vote on the Successful Defense form. Offsite committee members must sign a copy of the Successful Defense form (completed within the College) and send it back to the Major Professor as soon as possible, but no later than a week after the defense date.

What if one of my committee members cannot attend the dissertation defense?

Anyone may attend the defense, but only committee members may vote on the oral defense. It is required that all members of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee be present for the defense unless an absence is approved prior to the defense taking place by the Office of Graduate Studies Dean (barring department or university restrictions implemented for public health reasons). In the event that one committee member cannot attend in person, participation is permissible via speaker phone, Skype, or video conference. A minimum of three members, including the Major Professor (or at least one of the Co-Major Professors) is required to proceed with the defense. The outside Defense Chair must attend but does not count as one of the three required members in attendance. If an unforeseeable situation arises that would prevent compliance with this requirement, the Major Professor or Doctoral Dissertation Defense Chair should contact the office of Graduate Studies for guidance and approval to proceed with the defense.

Is there an Internship requirement?

In the Clinical Psychology program, each student required to complete a one-year, full-time, APA-approved (or CPA approved) internship in a training facility approved by the Program. Application materials and information on internship sites can be found here. Students must propose their dissertation successfully by the end of the spring semester before applying for internship in the fall semester. Additionally, students must pass comprehensive exams/MAP by the last day of the summer semester before they apply for internship. Please read the Internship Requirements section in the Required Study for the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology of the department Graduate Student Handbook. In the I-O program, an internship is optional.

What is the process for the doctoral dissertation Final Manuscript Submission?

Carefully read all of the Final Manuscript Submission instructions. A doctoral dissertation process checklist is available here. Students must be enrolled for at least two dissertation credit hours in the semester they submit the final manuscript.

What forms are required for the doctoral degree?

Early in the semester in which the dissertation will be defended, the student should submit a degree application and graduation survey before the deadline. Through OASIS, click on the Student menu and select Apply for Graduation. If submitted past the deadline, then your name will not appear in the commencement program.

How many total credit hours are required for the doctoral degree?

A post-Bachelor’s total minimum of 80 hours or a post-Master’s total minimum of 50 hours.  Students must successfully complete all requirements noted in the Catalog section for the M.A. in Psychology, or its equivalent, with a minimum GPA of 3.00. In addition, students must successfully complete the following post-Master's requirements. The 30 hours from the Master’s degree is then added to the post-Masters minimum of 50 hours for the 80 hour total. Individual concentrations may require more than 80 hours for accreditation.  The total time allowed for completion of the doctoral degree is seven years (six years for I-O) from the date of admission. 

What is the Ph.D. Requirements Timeline Guide?

Ph.D. Requirements Timeline Guide:

  • committee selection
  • department and college dissertation committee forms
  • attend ETD workshop in a semester prior to final manuscript submission
  • draft of dissertation proposal to committee 2 weeks before proposal date
  • dissertation proposal
  • degree application and graduation survey through OASIS (by deadline or name may not appear in commencement booklet)
  • ETD registration online (by deadline or name may not appear in commencement booklet)
  • Create a new account on the USF ProQuest website
  • register to complete the SED Survey
  • set defense date with committee, room reservation request online form
  • dissertation draft to committee 4 weeks before defense date
  • defense forms to Laura Pierce 2-1/2 weeks before defense date
  • dissertation defense
  • final manuscript submission (by deadline)
  • department pdf file copy of dissertation and vita to Laura Pierce
  • commencement

What tasks do I need to do before leaving USF?

  • Before you leave USF after you have received your doctorate degree or moving on to the next phase of your career, please do these last tasks as follows. If you have items you need to retrieve from the department, you are welcome to go at your own discretion to pick them up. If you would rather wait until the University officially opens that is ok.
  • Update your new address and contact information with Laura Pierce, the Post Office, journal subscriptions, as well in OASIS, GEMS (also sign up for electronic W-2).
  • Email Laura Pierce with your Postdoc/Initial Employer and position title, as well as a copy of your final dissertation and updated vita files.
  • Drop all university keys off at the Key Shop (Address: 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, OPM100, Tampa, FL 33620). Please let us know when they are done so we can deactivate the building access. The key shop is open from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. If you are unable to drop off your keys at the key shop, then you may mail them to the above address.
  • Clear out your department mailbox. Also, please clear out your offices & labs as well or label everything for us.
  • If you have items that need to be shredded please label them and let us know where they are kept.
  • If you have any exams/grades that must be kept for one year, please label them and let us know where they are kept.
  • Please provide us a forwarding address for mail
  • All USF off-campus properties need to be returned to your offices. Please give us a confirmation date when you will be finished checking and taking all your personal equipment. From that date, all equipment that are left in your offices/labs will be repurposed/disposed by the department.