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Experimental Psychology Policies and Procedures

Thesis, Dissertation, Exams



Upon admission a student is assigned an adviser. If at any time a student or adviser decides that the match is not appropriate or optimal, the student may change advisers. One's adviser must be a Group I member of the Psychology Department. It is the responsibility of the student to secure a new adviser as well as to inform the Director of Experimental Training and the Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies of the change.

International Student Enrollment

Federal regulations require that international students be enrolled for at least one credit hour in two of the three semesters each year. The policy applies to students both on campus and off campus.

Transfer Students

A three-member committee will be created for those students transferring to the Experimental Section from another graduate program. The purpose of this committee is to make any needed adjustments (e.g., in program requirements or deadlines) to the student's program. The committee consists of the student's adviser, the Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies, and the Director of Experimental Training. If the student's adviser is the Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies or the Director of Experimental Training, then the adviser chooses a third committee member.

Evaluation of Students

Graduate students in the Experimental Section are formally evaluated once a year, although the section reserves the right to evaluate students more than once a year if circumstances warrant it. For instance, a Type III evaluation will trigger a mid-year evaluation in the following year. The formal evaluations for all students are performed at the end of the academic year (i.e., end of Spring Semester) and finalized once all grades are posted.

There are three types of evaluation that a student may receive. Described below are the types and descriptions of some criteria for each type of evaluation. The criteria are meant to be illustrative and are not exhaustive.

  • Type I signifies good performance, such as good grades, making appropriate progress toward deadlines (for thesis, comprehensive exams, etc.), involvement in research, and good TA/GA/RA evaluations.
  • Type II signifies acceptable performance, although some concern with the student?s performance in a particular area has been noted, such as a problem with progress on one's thesis, less than optimal grades, etc.
  • Type III signifies unsatisfactory performance, such as low grades, missing deadlines, poor TA/GA/RA evaluations, or unprofessional conduct. Receiving a Type III evaluation for two consecutive evaluations may result in a student's dismissal from the program.

Areas of Evaluation

There are three areas of evaluation.

  • The Academic Area of evaluation includes performance in courses as well as satisfactory progress toward/completion of the M.A. thesis, satisfactory performance on comprehensive exams, and satisfactory progress toward completion of the dissertation.
  • The Research Area of evaluation includes satisfactory levels of participation in research projects besides thesis-related research. Such research may be conducted in collaboration with one's adviser or with other faculty members and graduate students or may be developed solely by the initiative of the student.
  • Finally, the Assistantship Area of evaluation includes performance in GA, TA, or RA responsibilities.

At the start of the evaluation procedure, the student is expected to provide his or her adviser with a description of accomplishments since the last evaluation in the areas of coursework, research, and assistantship duties. A worksheet for this information will be provided. The student should also submit an up-to-date CV that reflects publications, convention presentations, and research in progress.

The members of the Experimental Section meet as a group to discuss each student and decide which type of evaluation the student deserves. Each adviser presents the information for his or her student and suggests a rating (I, II, or III) for each of the three areas as well as an overall rating as a summary of the student's performance using the following decision procedure:

  • Start. Does the student have a "III" rating in any of the three areas? If YES, then Type III Evaluation.
  • If NO, does the student have a "II" rating in research or academics? If YES, then Type II Evaluation.
  • If NO, then Type I Evaluation.

After this information is presented to the committee, the summary recommendation is voted on by the section members. A two-thirds positive vote of the members present is needed to uphold the recommended evaluation. If the recommendation fails, the adviser and other members of the section will discuss the case further, possibly gathering additional information, in an attempt to reach a greater consensus about the appropriate evaluation. This process continues until a recommendation achieves the necessary two-thirds support.

The major implications of the flowchart are that a "II" in research or academics will result in a Type II evaluation and a "III" in any area results in a Type III letter.

After the evaluations have been completed, each student receives a written report of his or her evaluation. The student should feel free to meet with his or her adviser to discuss the evaluation. The student can also meet with the Director of Experimental Training to discuss the evaluation.

The evaluations have two major functions. The most important function is to provide the student with information on his or her progress. The second function concerns the allocation of stipends when limited (e.g., summer, etc.). Those with better evaluations are more likely to receive funding than those with poorer evaluations.

Dismissal from the Program

University criteria for continuing in graduate training are stated in the Graduate Catalog. Briefly, they require that a student maintain an overall grade-point average of at least 3.00. The Experimental Section has set additional criteria and may vote to dismiss a student from the program for any of the following reasons:

  1. Two consecutive evaluation ratings of "3." (See the section on Evaluation of Students for a description of the ratings.)
  2. Academic misconduct, which includes cheating, plagiarism, and a number of other academic infractions. (See the Graduate Catalog for a full description.)
  3. Violations of professional ethical standards. (See the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists for a description.)
  4. Two grades of "C" or below in one semester.
  5. A cumulative grade-point average below 3.00 in the student's content courses. Content courses include all graduate courses except PSY 7940 & PSY 8940 (Research), PSY 7910 (Fieldwork), PSY 6950 (Thesis), and PSY 8950 (Dissertation).
  6. Failing the comprehensive examination. (See section on The Comprehensive Examination.)
  7. Failure in the view of section members of a student to make adequate progress in developing into a competent scientist/scholar.

If any of the above conditions occur, the members of the section will vote on whether to continue or to dismiss the student. A two-thirds majority vote of the section is required to dismiss a student from the program.

Checkpoints for the Doctoral Program in Experimental Psychology

The following is an outline of the major checkpoints in your progress toward a doctoral degree in Experimental Psychology. A description of the major goals to be accomplished during each year is provided. Some of these points involve the filing of a certain form. The titles of these forms are listed below in chronological order and copies of the forms can be found in the Appendix to this manual.

It is your responsibility to make sure that these forms are completed, usually with the help of your adviser. Most of the forms are filed with the Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies, and additional copies of these forms are available in the department office (Porter 200).

First Year


  1. To complete the first year statistics sequence
  2. To begin coursework in one's major area
  3. To complete the research methods course
  4. To gain background and experience in designing and conducting research

Second Year


  1. To continue coursework in one's major area
  2. To complete the Teaching Seminar
  3. To propose, carry out, and defend a Master's thesis
  4. To prepare and pass the comprehensive exam.
  5. To conduct research


  1. Request for Master's Thesis Committee

Third Year


  1. To continue coursework in one's major area
  2. To defend a Master's thesis
  3. To pass the comprehensive exam
  4. To complete the scholarly tool
  5. To conduct research


  1. Approval of the Scholarly Tool

Fourth Year


  1. To complete coursework in one's major area
  2. To complete the scholarly tool
  3. To defend a dissertation project
  4. To conduct research


  1. Request for Doctoral Committee
  2. College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Committee Information
  3. Approval of the Scholarly Tool
  4. College of Arts and Sciences Arrangements for the Oral Examination on the Dissertation

Fifth Year


  1. To defend a dissertation project
  2. To conduct research


  1. Request for Doctoral Committee
  2. College of Arts and Sciences Dissertation Committee Information
  3. College of Arts and Sciences Arrangements for the Oral Examination on the Dissertation

Time Limit for Completion of the M.S. and Ph.D.

Students in the doctoral program in Experimental Psychology typically receive the M.S. degree as a step toward the Ph.D. Ideally, that degree is awarded at the end of the second year. The university has set a limit of six years for completing a master's degree. The six years begin in the semester in which the student enters the program, and the student must graduate by the final semester of the sixth year. Please note that the Experimental Section has set its own deadline for thesis completion, which supersedes the university's time limit. (See Thesis Proposal and Defense Meetings.)

The university has set a limit of seven years for completing a Ph.D. degree. The seven years begin in the semester in which the student enters the program, and the student must graduate by the final semester of the seventh year. The time periods for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees run concurrently.

Students entering the program with a master's degree have the same time for completing the Ph.D. (seven years) as those entering with a bachelor's degree.

Extension of the Seven-Year Deadline

In the unusual circumstance that a student is not able to complete the doctoral program within the seven-year limit, he or she may request a one-time, one-semester extension from the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. (See the Academic Policies section of the Graduate Catalog.) This extension request must be made prior to reaching the end of the seven-year time limit. The student should note that he or she is not guaranteed of obtaining an extension if he or she requests one. Such extensions are granted only if exceptional circumstances are associated with the delay in progress.

Readmission to the Program Following Expiration of the Deadline

If the requested one-semester extension is granted but expires before final completion of the Ph.D. requirements, the only option left is for students to apply for readmission to the program. (Students who did not request an extension or were denied such a request also have this option available to them.) To be considered for readmission, the following steps must be taken.

Step 1

The first step in the readmission procedure is for students who wish to be readmitted to find a faculty member willing to serve as their adviser should they be granted reentry into the program. Students must take the initiative on this, and should be aware that their former adviser is not obligated to resume his or her supervisory role just because readmission to the program is sought.

Step 2

Once an adviser has been found who is willing to supervise the student seeking readmission, the student must submit to the Experimental Admissions Committee a CV containing information regarding courses completed, convention presentations, publications, the date comprehensive exams were passed, and information regarding proposal meetings. Any additional information relevant to academic performance in the graduate program should also be included. The Committee may also obtain information and suggestions from the prospective adviser.

Step 3

Based on the materials and information presented, the Experimental Admissions Committee will formulate a recommendation to the Experimental Section as to whether the student should be readmitted or not. If the Committee endorses readmission, they will also make specific recommendations related to the following points:

  1. How long should the student be allowed to complete the graduate program?
  2. Should some coursework be repeated?
  3. Should components of the comprehensive examination requirements be repeated?
  4. Should any past research proposal be revised?
  5. Should the student be allowed to receive a graduate stipend or to teach?
  6. Should new requirements be met that may have been instituted since the student first began graduate training?

Step 4

The Experimental Section will convene to discuss thoroughly the Admissions Committee recommendation(s), and then vote on readmitting the student. A two-thirds positive vote of the members in the section is needed for readmission to be granted. If the student is approved for readmission, the specifications for readmission (including overall time limit as well as intermediary deadlines) must be presented to him or her in writing with a copy placed on file in the office of Graduate Studies.

Student Grievance Procedures


To provide for undergraduate and graduate students a procedure for appealing decisions made by faculty, administrators, committees, and sections in the Psychology Department.


These procedures are to be used for appeals bearing on policies and procedures developed within the Department of Psychology. They are not appropriate for appeals on issues for which the policy or procedure was established by a different administrative unit. For example, a student who wishes to appeal a grade should follow the grievance procedure provided in Section IV.B.3 of the Faculty Handbook

Procedures for Appeals

The first step in the appeal process for an undergraduate student is to discuss the issue with the Assistant Chair for Undergraduate Studies, whereas a graduate student should discuss the issue with the Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies. In either case, the assistant chair will work to resolve the student's problem. If the assistant chair is unable to resolve the problem to the student's satisfaction, then, at the student's request, the assistant chair will notify the chair of the Judicial Committee of a coming grievance. The Judicial Committee will conduct a hearing. (See Judicial Committee.) If the student or the instructor is not satisfied with the recommendations of the Judicial Committee, either party may appeal to the department chair. If the student or the instructor is not satisfied with the decision of the department chair, either party may appeal to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Special Provisions

Consultation with the Ohio University Ombudsman is available to a student at any stage of a grievance process, although many grievances may be settled at the departmental level.

A grievance against either of the assistant chairs is to be filed first with the other assistant chair.

A grievance against the department chair is to be filed directly with the Judicial Committee, which then makes its recommendations directly to the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Grade Appeals

(from Section IV.C.3 of the Faculty Handbook)

The instructor assigned to a class has full responsibility for grading, subject to the appeal process described in this section. In unusual circumstances (e.g., death, incapacity, or indefinite inaccessibility of the instructor) the department chairperson is responsible for the final grade, subject to appeal by the student to the dean as described in this section.

The burden of proof for a grade change is on the student, except in those cases involving charges of academic dishonesty. A student appealing a grade must make a concerted effort to resolve the matter with the instructor of the course. Failing such a resolution, the student may appeal the grade to the department chair or school director. The chair/director must attempt a resolution acceptable to both the student and the instructor but does not have the authority to change the grade. The department chair or director may enlist departmental grievance procedures to assist in resolving the grade appeal at the departmental level. If the resolution at the departmental level is unsuccessful within the semester following submission of the grade and the student wishes to appeal, the chair/director shall forward the appeal to the dean of the college for action. If the chair/director is the instructor, the student appeals directly to the dean.

If the dean concludes that the student has insufficient grounds for an appeal, there can be no further appeal by the student. If the dean concludes that sufficient grounds do exist for an appeal, the dean shall appoint a faculty committee of five members to consider the case. If the majority decide the grade should be changed and the instructor does not accept the recommendation, the committee can authorize the Registrar to change the grade. The decision of the committee is not subject to further appeal. In appeal cases in which the dean is the instructor, the role of the dean will be assumed by the Provost.

In those appeal cases involving courses taught by faculty from more than one college, the Dean of University College will review the appeal and, if necessary, appoint the appeals committee.

Judicial Committee


The Judicial Committee acts as an appeals or mediation board upon request by a student or faculty member after normal channels of appeal or negotiation within the Psychology Department have been exhausted. The functions of the Judicial Committee are (a) to hear requests for reconsideration of decisions made by committees, sections, faculty members, and departmental administrators, and to hear grievances on other matters of dispute or concern within the department; (b) to mediate, as may be needed; (c) to make recommendations for action or for policy change or policy development to pertinent persons, committees, sections, or groups.


The Judicial Committee has five members, two elected by the Clinical Section, two elected by the Experimental Section, and the Chair of the Judicial Committee, who is appointed by the department chair. The elected members serve two- year, staggered terms.

The department chair and the two assistant chairs are ineligible to serve on the Judicial Committee.


To initiate an appeal, a person shall present a request for appeal in writing to the Chair of the Judicial Committee, stating in detail the nature of the request or grievance together with his or her reasons for initiating the appeal. The Chair of the Judicial Committee will make arrangements to convene the Judicial Committee to conduct the hearing. The appellant may have a supporting person (faculty adviser, other student, colleague, university ombudsman, etc.) present at the hearing.

Matters relating to evidence, documentation, witnesses, consultants, records, and reports will be the responsibility of the Judicial Committee. The Chair of the Judicial Committee shall vote only in cases of tied votes among elected members. A summary report of the findings and recommendations of the Judicial Committee will be given to the appellant and to the department chair, as well as to the pertinent persons, committees, or groups.