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Program

For those looking for more information about our program, we have listed the program mission, a brief description of the program, the procedures for completing a degree, and procedures for other aspects of the program.

Program Mission

To promote state-of-the-art data-based decision making about people in organizations. To create a program and work environment that is a great place to work and the envy of our peers. We will do this by recruiting, training, and placing world-class scientist-practitioners of Industrial/Organizational Psychology with nationally recognized coursework, field experiences, and externally funded applied research programs.

Program Description

Industrial/Organizational Psychology (IO) programs are concerned with the world of work. People spend half their waking hours at work seeking a sense of accomplishment and achievement. Societies depend on their citizens and organizations for productive activity. IO psychologists deal with both broad sets of concerns in a context of social and technical change.

At North Carolina State University, the entire Department of Psychology has adopted the scientist-practitioner model of graduate education. The IO program follows the Guidelines for Education and Training at the Doctoral Level in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, adopted in 1982 by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Division 14. Education and training is provided in the traditional IO areas: work motivation, personnel research, selection, placement, leadership, organizational theory and development, job analysis, statistics, training, attitude theory and psychological measurement.

We actively engage in the practice of IO Psychology and encourage our students to do so as well. See the Partners link to the left for a list of organizations for which NCSU faculty and students have provided consultation or products.

Program Procedures - Completion of Degree

There are 27 steps towards completion of the doctoral degree.  Relevant program and policy information associated with each step is provided below.  Under some steps, a time estimate is indicated to give you some idea of when a step should take place.  Not all of the steps are marked this way because actual time may vary substantially from student to student.  Ideally, you should plan to earn your PhD in no more than five years. The steps to completion are laid out with this timetable in mind.  You must, however, complete all requirements within 10 years of the date of your admission into the program.

Summary of Steps

MS Level Work

01 Meet with Advisor. 08 Defend Thesis Proposal.
02 Sign US Patent Agreement. 09 Conduct Thesis Study.
03 Investigate Possible Thesis Topics. 10 Write Thesis.
04 Form MS Advisory Committee. 11 Complete MS Diploma Card.
05 Develop MS Plan of Work. 12 Schedule Oral Examination.
06 MS Thesis Discussions. 13 Defend Thesis.
07 Thesis Proposal to Committee. 14 Submit Thesis to Graduate School.


 


PhD Level Work

15 Develop PhD Plan of Work. 22 Conduct Dissertation Study.
16 Discuss Potential Dissertation Topic(s). 23 Write Dissertation.
17 Schedule Written and Oral Prelims. 24 Complete PhD Diploma Card.
18 Complete Written Prelims. 25 Schedule Oral Examination.
19 Complete Oral Prelims. 26 Defend Dissertation.
20 Dissertation Proposal to Committee. 27 Submit Dissertation to Graduate School.
21 Defend Dissertation Proposal.  

 


01 Meet with Advisor

(Time Estimate: No later than second week of first semester)
An IO Faculty member will be your sponsor and serve as your graduate advisor.  Sponsorship is based on commonality of research interest and availability of space in the faculty member’s research program. After arriving on campus, you and your advisor should meet to make initial plans for the year. Often you will spend some time during this meeting discussing your advisor’s research program and research interests. You may be assigned tasks in your advisor’s research program at this or subsequent meetings. You are encouraged to communicate with your advisor and to ask any questions which may arise during your initial semesters in the program.  Advisors can be of great assistance in your process of getting settled and in establishing a Graduate Advisory Committee.  The advisor often serves as your advocate and representative to other organizations and other faculty. 

02 Sign U.S. Patent agreement

(Time Estimate: Some time during first semester)
You must sign a Patent Agreement (usually done in PSY 800 -- Introduction to Graduate Study in Psychology).  The reason for this will be explained in PSY 800!  Basically, NCSU doesn’t want you or anybody else getting really rich using university resources.  It has happened.

03 Identify Thesis Research Topic

(Time Estimate: No later than first semester of second year)
The primary purpose of the Thesis requirement is to give you experience with carrying out a research project from beginning to end.  It is by no means the only research expectation in the initial years of the graduate program.  You are expected to become actively involved in a research program (usually your advisor’s) during the first semester and continue throughout your graduate career.  You are also encouraged to engage in research with other faculty and students, when possible.  Thesis topic discussions are held usually in the second or third semester of enrollment.  The goal of these discussions is to identify one or more areas to investigate as a possible thesis research topic.  It is not uncommon to consider several potential topics before making a final decision.  Sometimes you will derive your thesis research within the context of your advisor’s larger research program. In all cases both you and your advisor must agree on a thesis topic prior to writing a thesis proposal (see step 07).

Thesis Equivalency.  Students entering the IO program with a non-thesis based Master’s degree or a non-data based thesis need to propose and complete a thesis equivalency project.  While this project is somewhat less formal than a regular thesis, it should generally be approached in much the same way as a regular thesis.  Because it is very similar in scope to a thesis, most of the steps that are associated with completing a thesis are applicable to the thesis equivalency.  The appropriateness of the scope of the project that you would like to conduct to meet the thesis equivalency requirement will be evaluated by your advisory committee. 

04 Form Graduate Advisory Committee

(Time Estimate:  No later than the end of the second semester.)
During the second semester, you must request the appointment of a Graduate Advisory Committee and submit a Master’s Plan of Work approved by that Graduate Advisory Committee.  Forming a committee is done in consultation with your advisor who serves as the Chairperson of the committee.  A committee will consist of graduate faculty the majority of which should be primarily affiliated with the IO psychology program.  You may include additional members at the discretion of the Advisory Committee.  You should keep in mind, however, that the more members you have on your committee, the more challenging it can be to arrange meetings that all can attend and that this is an activity that you will be required to do at least twice for the thesis!

05 File MS Plan of Work

(Time Estimate:  No later than the end of the second semester, but absolutely before you have completed 50% of the coursework that will be included in your plan.)
File a Plan of Work form in consultation with your advisor and the Departmental help page.  When completing a Plan of Work you need to include courses that meet general requirements, departmental core requirements, and overall IO Doctoral Program requirements.  You should review course requirements for the whole Doctoral program before composing your Plan of Work.  A checklist is available to help you carry out this task.  You must complete this checklist and submit it along with your Plan of Work to your advisor.  If your plan meets requirements satisfactorily, your advisor will sign both documents.  You will then need to consult with your remaining committee members to obtain their signatures indicating that they also approve the Plan of Work.  When completed, file your Plan of Work with the Graduate Records Assistant (also known as "Graduate Secretary"). If you later find it necessary, changes in the membership of the Advisory Committee or in the planned coursework can be made after acceptance of a Plan of Work by submitting a description of the revisions requested (a formis available for such purposes).

Required Number of Hours.  The minimum credit hours on an MS Plan of Work in psychology at NC State is 36, the minimum credit hours earned in regular courses is 24, and the minimum credit hours of thesis research is 6.  Hours in excess of these minima may be a mix of courses, research, and other experiences as approved by the Graduate Advisory Committee.

Transfer Hours.  Up to 6 credit hours of coursework from another institution may be transferred to NC State and be applied to the minimum hours required for an MS degree. Please be aware, however, that the time limit to complete all degree requirements (6 calendar years) will begin with the date of the oldest course transferred. You should also be aware that the IO faculty determines whether or not coursework from another institution is eligible for transfer.  It is your responsibility to provide supporting documents (syllabi, course products, etc.) when you request that a course be considered for transfer. To count automatically toward current NC State requirements, graduate-level coursework taken here (e.g., as a PBS student) or at other institutions must have been completed with a grade of B or better within 10 years of the date of admission to the NC State program.  Remember, however, that placing such coursework on the Plan of Work causes your time limit to begin with the date of the earliest course appearing on the Plan.

06 Meet with Advisor to Discuss MS Thesis Proposal

By the beginning of the first semester of the second year, you and your advisor (who is now your Advisory Committee Chair and often referred to as such) should work together to select and refine an area of research for your thesis.  At this point, specific research questions are identified, potential participants are discussed, and research methodology options are examined.  While this effort is usually confined to you and your Chair, you should obtain advice from other members of your Advisory Committee when you and your advisor agree that it would be beneficial to do so.
 
Eventually, you will write a thesis proposal based on the outcome of these discussions.  Usually this occurs toward the middle or end of first semester of the second year.  During any period when you will be working intensely on your thesis (meeting regularly with your Chair, etc.) you must register for 1-3 credit hours in PSY 693 or 695 -- depending on the phase of the project and your circumstances (see FAQ #2 & #3).

07 Develop a Formal Proposal

The proposal is a formal statement of a planned thesis research project that includes the following sections: 

  • A cover page with a "signature block" below the title and author.  (You can fashion this page after the official title page (Appendix L) required by the graduate school.  Simply insert “proposal” in place of “thesis.”)
  • An introduction which describes the background for the proposed work and why it is relevant and important to IO psychology, provides the conceptual justification for the research, and states any explicit hypotheses to be tested.
  • A methods section that describes in detail what you will be doing, the equipment and participants involved, and the overall design.
  • An analysis section that describes the types of data you will be working with and (as explicitly as possible) the sorts of statistical procedures and analyses you will employ.  This section should also discuss how the data to be collected will be used to evaluate the hypotheses or research questions with which the project started and any limitations on such evaluations. 
  • A list of references. 
  • Figures, graphs of anticipated or theoretically predicted results, and tables are optional, dependent upon the topic of study. 

Ultimately, you and your advisor should decide upon a strategy for the writing process (e.g., specifically what details should be included, whether electronic editing is possible, etc.). Please remember that the Chair’s job is to guide you through the thesis (give you feedback, etc.). Do not expect him or her to “nag” you through the process. Do not ask your Chair to do things like arrange committee meetings, give copies of drafts to committee members, or otherwise run interference for you.

The written proposal should be typed, double-spaced and should follow the usual conventions outlined in the APA Publication Manual. You will be expected to follow the format for the document outlined in theIO Program's Thesis and Dissertation Guide and be in compliance with graduate school requirements outlined in the NCSU’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide. It is very frustrating for your Chair to have to make style/format corrections that are clearly outlined in these reference materials. You should proofread your drafts very carefully. Your Chair is not your proofreader. It may be advisable to hire someone to read your draft for grammar, spelling, and clarity. It could save you a lot of time. In the event that your Chair encounters several typos, grammatical errors, formatting errors, etc., he or she reserves the right to return the proposal to you unread pending further revision.  

If it appears as though your statistical analysis or design is going to be complex, get help from an expert. Do not rely on your committee or Chair to develop the original design or stat procedures. Also, do not rely solely on your own skills unless you are very confident in them. If you find yourself relying heavily on faculty other than your committee, you should consult with your Chair to consider adding that faculty member to your committee.

As a rule, you should not collect data before the full Advisory Committee approves your proposal.  If you collect data prior to this approval, you are accepting the possibility that the committee might disapprove your proposal and that you will not be able to use the data you are collecting to fulfill the thesis requirement. 

08 Defend MS Thesis (or Thesis Equivalency) Proposal

(Time Estimate:  If you have been a TA or RA from the start, your proposal should be presented and approved by April 15th of your second year, in order for you be eligible to receive continued departmental funding during your third year.)

You should submit a proposal to the Advisory Committee only after your Chair has indicated that it is ready for distribution. You should distribute your proposal for review at least two weeks before the date on which you would like to defend it. Be aware, however, that you cannot defend your proposal until your Chair has received feedback from all of your committee members indicating that it is ready. Also, please give the committee members the option of either hard or electronic copies of the document - do not presume e-mailed copies are sufficient.

After all members of the Committee have received the proposal, you need to arrange a two-hour meeting, or longer if needed, for a group discussion of the proposed work  There is a form (“Request to Schedule Form”) for this that must be submitted to the Graduate Records Assistant two weeks before the date of the exam.  Proposal meetings must be scheduled only during the fall and spring semesters during either the second or third full week (i.e., Monday-Friday) of the semester or during the seventh through fifteenth full week of the semester. No proposals or defenses may be scheduled during the summer.  In addition, individual faculty members may decline specific scheduling times as needed to fit existing schedules.

Attendance: Admission of non-Committee faculty or other students to presentations of MS proposals (and defenses) is encouraged. In accordance with university policy, proposal and defenses are open to the university community. We discourage the presence of friends and family members from outside of the university to ensure these meetings maintain a scholarly atmosphere and to keep academic integrity.The deliberations prior to and following the defense presentation are only open to committee members or other faculty invited by the committee. During this meeting, you will be responsible for presenting a summary of the planned research, including its background and justification. You should plan on a research presentation of no more than 30-40 minutes.

Following the presentation and discussion of the proposal, the student's Advisory Committee will decide upon the acceptability of the proposed research. If the proposal is acceptable, the committee members will sign the title page. If any revisions are required, you should have them clearly noted by the end of the meeting. The Committee will decide whether such changes can be indicated by marginal note and/or addendum or whether you will need to rewrite the proposal for clarity. When a revised or annotated copy of the proposal is ready, the student and the members of his/her Advisory Committee will sign the proposal’s title page and file the whole document in the departmental office.

09 Conduct MS Thesis (or Thesis Equivalency) Study

“Acceptance" of a research proposal does not imply any expectation that you must follow every detail of the proposal to the letter. Conducting research is a dynamic process and it is quite likely that certain modifications of procedures will suggest themselves as the project proceeds.  Those involved in conducting or advising research have an obligation to make such modifications if they are both practically and methodologically reasonable and if, by their inclusion, the quality of the research or its interpretation will be improved. You and your Advisory Committee should maintain an open channel of communication, so that all parties can be properly informed of (and be in agreement about) such modifications as they become necessary.

It is the policy of the IO Program that if a proposal is approved without special comment, then obtaining a "positive" result (whether predicted or otherwise) should not be a condition for acceptance of the final product. This is, though, provided that any modification of agreed upon procedures, etc. have been undertaken by mutual consent and that the research has been carried out in a skillful and conscientious manner.

In case of disputes concerning the magnitude of changes or proposed changes in approved research, a special committee composed of the Department Head, the Director of Graduate Programs, and the graduate student representative to the departmental faculty will provide an impartial review. (Should any of these individuals be involved in the dispute at hand, the remaining individuals will choose an appropriate replacement for the deliberations.) Appeal of the decision of this committee will require that the matter be submitted to the full-scale grievance procedure.

10 Write Findings of MS Thesis (or Thesis Equivalency)

Expect that writing your thesis will require a number of drafts.  Again, you and your Chair should decide upon a strategy for the writing process (e.g., scope of drafts, etc.).  Do not make sweeping changes from draft to draft unless your Chair suggests that you should do so.  Check with your Chair to determine whether you need to include the last draft with the suggested changes.  Date all drafts. Follow all instructions in the IO Program's Thesis and Dissertation Guide and NCSU’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide.

11 Apply for MS Degree (Diploma Card)

You should complete an Application for the MS Degree at the beginning of the semester that you anticipate defending your thesis.  This application is available from the Graduate Records Assistant.  Even if you are not absolutely sure that you will be ready to defend your thesis, you should complete the application.

12 Schedule the MS Final Oral Exam (Thesis Defense)

You should not distribute your thesis to committee members or schedule a defense without prior approval of the Chair. To schedule a thesis defense, your Chair (on behalf of the Committee) must certify that it is ready to be defended.  You will need to complete a “Request to Schedule” form and turn it in to the Graduate Records Assistant within the first 20 working days of the semester in which you plan to graduate, but always at least 15 days prior to the actual defense. Pay very close attention to the instructions on the "Request to Schedule" form. The defense may be scheduled during the fall and spring semesters during either the second or third full week of the semester or during the seventh through fifteenth full week of the semester.  No defenses may be scheduled during the summer.  In addition, individual faculty members may decline specific scheduling times as needed to fit existing schedules.  As with the thesis proposal, please allow committee members at least two weeks to read the document before the scheduled meeting and give the committee members the option of either hard or electronic copies of the document.
 
You must defend your master's thesis within three (3) years of proposal acceptance.  If you miss this deadline, you will have to resubmit the proposal to the committee and to the Director of Graduate Programs or Department Head for approval.  The Director of Graduate Programs or Department Head will consult with the committee but will have no vote in the decision to renew the acceptance of the proposal.  The decision to approve the proposal again will be based on the technical feasibility of the proposal and an appraisal of your ability and interest in carrying out the project.

13 Defend MS Thesis Study

Meet with your Chair to discuss the format of your thesis presentation (e.g., how much time to spend on each section, whether to receive questions during or after the presentation, etc.). Generally, you should plan on a presentation of no more than 30-45 minutes. You are responsible for obtaining and setting up any audiovisual equipment that you will be using as well as requesting a meeting room. Be sure to conduct a trial run with the equipment to confirm that it works well in the room in which you will be making the presentation. Some rooms work better than other rooms depending on the time of day you make your presentation, whether blinds are working properly, etc.  Please review the policy on whom is allowed to attend defenses.

Be sure that you provide at least one title page of your thesis for your committee to sign after you have successfully defended your thesis.  (You are required to have at least one title page signed but may have as many signed as you wish. Many students prefer to include original signed title pages in their bound copies.) You will need to show a signed title page to the Thesis/Dissertation Editor to document that your Graduate Advisory Committee has approved your thesis for final submission.  

The committee may decide that revisions are necessary before you should be permitted to submit your thesis to the Graduate School.  As a matter of convenience, often signatures are still gathered but the Chair will retain the cover page(s) until you make satisfactory revisions. For further details on the final defense process, see the section on “Comprehensive Examinations” in the Graduate Administrative Handbook.

Recommendation to Continue Program

As soon as the Graduate Advisory Committee has accepted an MS Thesis, your Chair will confer with the members of the Committee, to determine their recommendation, vis-à-vis your continuation toward the PhD. All students admitted to graduate programs in psychology are assumed to be interested in continuation through the doctorate, if possible. Hence, you do not need to make a formal request to continue. (If you do decide to terminate your own program at the master's level, however, do inform your Chair.)

After you have defended your thesis, your Chair will send a memorandum to the Director of Graduate Programs (DPG), indicating the Committee's recommendation.  If the recommendation is positive, and if the Director of Graduate Programs concurs, then you will be so informed and automatically continued as a doctoral student in the IO program.  (The DPG may ask you to sign a form to complete the process.)  If your committee does not recommend that you continue, the Director of Graduate Programs will officially inform you that your program has been terminated.

14 Submit MS Thesis to the Graduate School

Review current Graduate School guidelines for submission procedures.  There are deadlines to which you must adhere and formats to which your final product must conform.  Ideally, you will have taken all of these issues into consideration as you planned the thesis process.  Among other things, you will need to set up an appointment with the Thesis/Dissertation Editor to have your final product approved for publication.
 
Congratulations!  You have made it through the MS process!  Attendance at a formal graduation ceremony in which you receive your diploma is encouraged, but optional.  If you wish to have your degree conferred in absentia, you must contact the Graduate Records Assistant.

15 File PhD Plan of Work

(Time Estimate:  New Students: second semester of enrollment; Continuing students: ASAP after advancing to PhD program; All students: absolutely before you have completed 50% of the coursework that will be included in your plan.)
Many of the steps for attaining the PhD degree, procedurally speaking, are very similar to those associated with the MS degree.  Right away, you will need to establish a Graduate Advisory Committeeand a new plan of work.  A checklist is available to help you produce your Doctoral Plan of Work .  Often, members of your MS Advisory Committee continue to serve on your doctoral advisory committee, but membership (including the chair) can change so that the following specifications are met.

A Graduate Advisory Committee for the PhD degree will consist of four or more members of the graduate faculty.  The same restrictions as noted in the description of an MS Committee apply, including the requirement that the Committee Chair (or one of the Co-Chairs) be a member of the IO faculty.  Also, at least one Chair of a doctoral Advisory Committee must have “full” status on the Graduate Faculty.  Typically, untenured Assistant Professors will not have this status, in which case a “full” member of the graduate faculty will serve as a Co-Chair. 

Unless you include a member outside of the area of psychology, The Graduate School will add aGraduate School Representative to your committee at the time you file your plan of work.  You will need to include the Graduate School Representative in your preliminary and final oral examinations, and may wish to invite him or her to the proposal presentation meeting, as well.

If You Already Have A Master’s Degree.  If you already have a master’s degree when you enter the IO psychology program at NC State, you and your committee will determine what coursework you need to include on your Doctoral Plan of Work.  If you have not conducted a data-based thesis project, you will be required to complete an MS Thesis Equivalency.

In General.  The minimum credit hours on a PhD Plan of Work will be 36 (if you have already taken 36 relevant credit hours as part of an MS degree at NC State) or 54 hours (if you have taken 18 relevant credit hours as part of a master’s program elsewhere).  In either case, the PhD Plan of Work must include at least 24 credit hours of coursework and 6 credit hours of dissertation research.  Hours in excess of these minima may be a mix of courses, research, and other experiences as approved by the Graduate Advisory Committee.  The maximum number of credit hours beyond the MS Plan of Work,earned prior to a successful thesis defense, which may later be applied to doctoral requirements, including minimum hour requirements is twelve (12).  Additional hours of this type cannot appear on a PhD Plan of Work.

All of the foregoing notwithstanding, the minimum credit hours for a PhD degree in IO psychology at NC State (master’s work and doctoral work combined) is 72, of which at least 48 must be coursework and at least 6 must be dissertation research hours.

To count automatically toward current NC State requirements, you must have completed graduate-level coursework taken here or at other institutions with a grade of B or better within 10 years of the date of admission to the NC State program.
 
The time limit to complete all PhD degree requirements will be 10 years in total for those students earning both an NC State MS and PhD in continuous enrollment, and 8 years for all others.  Within these time periods the Psychology Department allows a maximum of six calendar years from the date you start your coursework applicable to the doctoral Plan of Work to pass the written and oral preliminary exams and attain “candidacy” for the degree.  While these are the “official” time limits approved by the Psychology Department, you should consider them outer limits applicable only to students with extreme extenuating circumstances accounting for a deviation from the IO program 5-year plan.

Distributional Courses.  You are required to take 9 credit hours of core courses, spanning the two groups listed below.  You must take two courses from one group and one course from the other.  You, with committee approval, select the area of greater emphasis.  Be aware that licensing requires certaindistributional requirements and requires certain forms of documentation of coursework.  Check theAssociation of State and Provincial Psychology Boards guidelines for licensing if you are interested in this issue.

The two core groups and their corresponding courses are:

Group A: Group B:
PSY 500  Visual Perception PSY 511  Advanced Social Psychology
PSY 508  Cognitive Processes PSY 584  Advanced Developmental Psychology
PSY 502  Physiological Psychology PSY 591  History & Systems of Psychology
PSY 744  Human Information Processing  

Required IO Coursework. Refer to the list of the required IO courses and the semesters during which they are offered.  You should use this curriculum layout to help establish both your MS and PhD plan of work.

Statistics and Research Methods Requirement.  You must pass two statistics courses totaling at least six credit hours.  Furthermore, you must pass another 3 credit hours in either statistics or research methods.  You may meet his requirement, partially or in full, though graduate courses taken elsewhere, or by examination.  Such coursework, however, does not transfer, and the hours do not appear on the plan.

16 Discuss Dissertation Topic

Throughout your tenure in the IO program, you will be involved in other research projects associated with class work, research assistantships, or faculty research programs.  It is from these experiences that you should begin to develop ideas for a dissertation.  You should discuss these ideas with your Chair and begin to reflect on relevant literature. 

17 Schedule Written and Oral PhD Preliminary Examination

(Time estimate:  Ideally, ASAP after completing all required courses.)
For continuing students, somewhere near the beginning of your fourth year, you will be finishing all of your course work and you should be preparing to take the written and oral PhD preliminary examination. You should spend at least three to six months preparing for this examination process.  Let your Chair know what you are doing.  By the way, you may receive credit for your exam preparation by enrolling in PSY 890.  These hours may help you maintain full-time student status.
 
You should also inform your Graduate Advisory Committee of your intentions to take the exam no later than the first day of classes of the semester the exam is taken (preferably sooner).  At least TWO WEEKS before the preliminary examination period (i.e., no later than the 2nd week of the semester), you must fill out appropriate paperwork for scheduling your written and oral exams and submit it to the Graduate Records Assistant. Follow the instructions on this form very carefully.

18 Successfully Complete Written Preliminary Examination

You will take a written examination prepared by the IO faculty.  The Written Preliminary Exam is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your command of the literature of the field and to show an ability to synthesize material.  

The IO program requires that the written portion of the preliminary examination be given during the fourth full week of the fall semester with the oral portion of the examination to take place during the sixth week. The exam will be graded during the fifth week of the semester.  If you should fail the written portion of the exam, you will not be allowed to take the oral portion of the exam and will be required to wait until the following fall semester to retake the written exam.  A decision to allow you to retake the written exam is at the discretion of your Graduate Advisory Committee. Failure to pass the written portion a second time will terminate your work.
 
For further details on this topic, see the IO Preliminary Exam Info document. You may also want to refer to the section on “Comprehensive Examinations” in the Graduate Administrative Handbook

19 Successfully Complete Oral Preliminary Examination

Depending upon the composition of your Graduate Advisory Committee (see step 15 ), a Graduate School Representative must attend the oral preliminary exam.  While the Graduate School usually appoints and schedules a Graduate School Representative for the oral prelim exam time, you are ultimately responsible for confirming that this person is scheduled to attend both your preliminary oral exam and dissertation defense.  (See step 25.)

The IO program’s three-week prelim procedure requires that you schedule the oral portion of the preliminary examination during the sixth week of the semester -- prior to knowing the outcome of the written portion of the exam. Scheduling the oral exam prior to obtaining feedback on the written exam, however, in no way implies that you will pass the written exam or that you will be allowed to take the oral exam if you fail the written exam. The IO Preliminary Exam Info document contains information related to the format of the oral exam.

At the end of oral examination session, the committee will excuse you so that it can deliberate. Specifically, the committee and the Graduate School representative will decide upon the acceptability of the exam and your performance and all will sign the appropriate form attesting to those decisions.

Failure to pass the preliminary oral examination terminates your work at this institution unless the examining committee recommends a re-examination, which the department also supports. No re-examination may be given until at least one FULL semester has elapsed, and only one re-examination is permitted in a given doctoral program. You may be required to retake the entire exam (i.e., including a written exam).  Effectively, whether you are sitting for prelims in either the fall or the spring, you will be have to wait until the following fall to participate in a re-examination.  A decision to complete an additional oral or retake the exam is at the discretion of your Graduate Advisory Committee.
 
If a preliminary exam results in a "conditional pass," your Advisory Committee will specify the conditions and the date by which you must meet them in order to pass.  The completion deadline should indicate as short a time as reasonable and shall not extend beyond the end of the next full semester.  Failure to meet the deadline will result in failing the exam.  The normal procedure governing the retaking of the entire exam then becomes effective.

For further details on this topic, see the section on “Comprehensive Examinations” in the Graduate Administrative Handbook.

Once a preliminary exam has begun, and until you have completed it in a satisfactory manner, there will be NO changes in the makeup of your Advisory Committee except under extraordinary circumstances such as a death or serious illness of a committee member.

20 Submit PhD Dissertation Proposal to Committee

You and your Chair should work together to select and refine an area of research for your dissertation.  At this point, specific research questions are identified, potential participants are discussed, and research methodology options are examined.  While this effort is usually confined to you and your advisor, you should obtain advice from other members of your Advisory Committee when you and your advisor agree that it would be beneficial to do so. 

Your Chair will eventually request that you write a dissertation proposal based on the outcome of these discussions.  (Review step 07 for details.) During any period when you will be working intensely on your dissertation (meeting regularly with your Chair, etc.) you must register for 1-3 credit hours in PSY 893, 895, or 899 – whichever is most appropriate for your situation

21 Defend PhD Dissertation Proposal

You should submit a proposal to the Advisory Committee only after your Chair has indicated that it is ready for distribution. You should distribute your proposal for review at least two weeks before the date on which you would like to defend it. Be aware, however, that you cannot defend your proposal until your Chair has received feedback from all of your committee members indicating that it is ready. Also, please give the committee members the option of either hard or electronic copies of the document - do not presume e-mailed copies are sufficient.
 
The Graduate School Representative (if you have one – see step 15) is not required to attend this meeting, although the meeting is open both to him/her and to any members of the department who care to participate. Admission of non-Committee faculty or other students to presentations of MS proposals (and defenses) is encouraged. In accordance with university policy, proposal and defenses are open to the university community. We discourage the presence of friends and family members from outside of the university to ensure these meetings maintain a scholarly atmosphere and to keep academic integrity.The deliberations prior to and following the defense presentation are only open to committee members or other faculty invited by the committee. During this meeting, you will be responsible for presenting a summary of the planned research, including its background and justification. You should plan on a research presentation of no more than 30-40 minutes.

A proposal meeting may be scheduled during the fall and spring semesters during either the second or third full week of the semester or during the seventh through fifteenth full week of the semester. No proposals or defenses may be scheduled during the summer.  In addition, individual faculty members may decline specific scheduling times as needed to fit existing schedules. You must submit a form(“Request to Schedule Form”) to the Graduate Records Assistant documenting the date of the proposal defense TWO WEEKS before the proposal date.

The presentation of the proposal for dissertation research assumes that all committee members have read the research proposal. During this meeting, you will be responsible for presenting a summary of the planned research, including its background and justification. You should plan on a research presentation of no more than 30-40 minutes. This meeting is an opportunity for everyone to discuss the specifics of the research jointly. Ideally, by the end of this meeting there should be a clear agreement among those present that the proposed study is appropriate and feasible and that necessary controls have been adequately incorporated. In short, you and the committee should be willing to sign the proposal's title page, indicating the acceptability of the proposed research as described. 

To reach this point, the committee may suggest additional changes in design or methodology during the meeting.  (The committee will make a decision as to whether you can note such changes by marginal comments or if you must submit a rewritten proposal document.)  Although the meeting does involve the expectation that you will be able to discuss and provide rationale for the proposed research, it is also the duty of the committee to provide as much constructive input as possible, in order that the eventual research will be the best project possible.

22 Conduct PhD Dissertation Study

"Acceptance" of a research proposal does not imply any expectation that you will (or should) slavishly follow every detail to the letter.  Conducting research is a dynamic process. It is quite likely that certain modifications of procedures will suggest themselves as the project proceeds. Those involved in conducting or advising research have an obligation to make such modifications if they are both practically and methodologically reasonable and if, by their inclusion, the quality of the research or its interpretation will be improved. You and your Advisory Committee should maintain an open channel of communication, so that all parties can be properly informed of (and be in agreement about) such modifications as they become necessary.

It is the policy of the IO Program that if a proposal is approved without special comment, then obtaining a "positive" result (whether predicted or otherwise) should not be a condition for acceptance of the final product. This is, though, provided that any modification of agreed upon procedures, etc. have been undertaken by mutual consent and that the research has been carried out in a skillful and conscientious manner. In case of disputes concerning the magnitude of changes or proposed changes in approved research, a special committee composed of the Department Head, the Director of Graduate Programs, and the graduate student representative to the departmental faculty will provide an impartial review.  (Should any of these individuals be involved in the dispute at hand, the remaining individuals will choose an appropriate replacement for the deliberations.)  Appeal of the decision of this committee will require that the matter be submitted to the full-scale grievance procedure.

23 Write Findings of PhD Dissertation Study

Expect that writing your dissertation will require a number of drafts. Again, you and your Chair should decide upon a strategy for the writing process (e.g., scope of drafts, etc.). Do not make sweeping changes from draft to draft unless your Chair suggests that you should do so.  Check with your Chair to determine whether you need to include the last draft with the suggested changes. Date all drafts. Follow all instructions in the IO Program's Thesis and Dissertation Guide and NCSU’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide.

24 Apply for PhD Degree (Diploma Card)

You should complete an Application for the PhD degree at the beginning of the semester that you anticipate defending your dissertation.  This application is available from the Graduate Records Assistant.  Even if you are not absolutely sure that you will be ready to defend your dissertation, you should complete the application.

25 Schedule the PhD Final Oral Examination

The defense may be scheduled (the Request to Schedule form – with THREE WEEKS notice required) during the fall and spring semesters during either the second or the third full week of the semester or during the seventh through fifteenth full week of the semester. No proposals or defenses may be scheduled during the summer. In addition, individual faculty members may decline specific scheduling times as needed to fit existing schedules. As with the dissertation proposal, please allow committee members at least two weeks to read the document before the scheduled meeting and give the committee members the option of either hard or electronic copies of the document. It is your responsibility to include the previously appointed Graduate School Representative (if you have one – see step 15) in your scheduling arrangements and you must also provide the Representative with a copy of the dissertation at least one week before the final examination.

You must defend your dissertation within three (3) years of proposal acceptance.  If you miss this deadline, you will have to resubmit the proposal to the committee and to the Director of Graduate Programs or Department Head for approval. The Director of Graduate Programs or Department Head will consult with the committee but will have no vote in the decision to renew the acceptance of the proposal. The decision to approve the proposal again will be based on the technical feasibility of the proposal and an appraisal of your ability and interest in carrying out the project.

26 Successfully Pass the PhD Final Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense)

Meet with your Chair to discuss the format of your dissertation presentation (e.g., how much time to spend on each section, whether to receive questions during or after the presentation, etc.). Generally, you should plan on a presentation of no more than 30-45 minutes. You are responsible for obtaining and setting up any audiovisual equipment that you will be using as well as requesting a meeting room. Be sure to conduct a trial run with the equipment to confirm that it works well in the room in which you will be making the presentation. Some rooms work better than other rooms depending on the time of day you make your presentation, whether blinds are working properly, etc. Please review the policy related to whom is allowed to attend the defense.
 
Be sure that you provide at least one title page of your dissertation (Appendix M) for your committee to sign after you have successfully defended your dissertation.  (You are required to have at least one title page signed, but may have as many signed as you wish. Many students prefer to include original signed title pages in their bound copies.) You will need to show a signed title page to the Thesis/Dissertation editor to document that your Graduate Advisory Committee has approved your thesis for final submission. The committee may decide that revisions are necessary before you should be permitted to submit your dissertation to the Graduate School.  As a matter of convenience, often signatures are still gathered but the Chair will retain the cover page(s) until you make satisfactory revisions.

If you do not pass the oral examination your work at this institution is terminated unless the advisory committee recommends a re-examination. No re-examination may be given until one full semester has elapsed and only one re-examination is permitted. For further details on this topic, see the section on“Comprehensive Examinations” in the Graduate Administrative Handbook.

27 Submit Dissertation to Graduate School

Review current Graduate School guidelines for submission.  There are deadlines to which you must adhere and formats to which your final product must conform.  Ideally, you will have taken all of these issues into consideration as you planned the dissertation process.  Among other things, you will need to set up an appointment with the Thesis/Dissertation Editor to have your final product approved for publication. 

Congratulations!  You have made it through the process!  Attendance at a formal graduation ceremony in which you receive your diploma and go through the “hooding” process is encouraged but optional.  If you wish to have your degree conferred in absentia, you must notify in writing the Graduate School and the Graduate Records Assistant.

Program Procedures - Other Policies and Procedures

Explained below are a number other important IO policies and procedures to which you should also attend.

01 Use of Archival Data Policy.
02 Independent Study, Supervised Research, Thesis/Dissertation Credit, Supervised Teaching       Credit.
03 Electronic Mail Policy.
04 Obtaining North Carolina Residency for Tuition Purposes.
05 Changing Advisors.
06 Thayer Travel Award.
01 Use of Archival Data Policy

Upon approval of your Advisory Committee, you may use archival data for either your dissertation or thesis.  Archival data alone may not be used in both.

02 Independent Study, Supervised Research, Thesis/Dissertation Credit, Supervised Teaching Credit

There are independent study and supervised research/teaching credit courses available for you to use as you progress through your graduate program.  These include PSY 680, 685, 693, 695, 696, 699, 880, 885, 890, 893, 895, 896, and 899.  To receive credit for some of these courses (e.g., PSY 680, 685, 693, 880, 885, & 893) you must go through the Graduate Records Assistant.  Yes, there is another form to complete and submit to the Graduate Records Assistant for these particular courses.

Prior to formal registration for any of the courses mentioned above, you should meet with the proposed faculty teaching/research/independent study supervisor to determine the conditions that you must fulfill to receive credit.  A written agreement about the proposed work should be developed that will identify the major sub-goals to be achieved across the semester as well as the tentative deadlines assigned to each.  This agreement should typically include:

  • Details about the responsibilities of both you and the faculty supervisor.
  • Number of credits you are to receive, the minimum average weekly time commitment expected of you, and the amount of time for faculty supervision.
  • A description of the project goals and products.
  • Authorship status should the research project be accepted for presentation or publication.

With proper justification, you and your supervisor throughout the semester can revise these plans, but such revisions should be in writing. 

03 Electronic Mail Policy

Routine correspondence will be sent to you only via e-mail using your unity account, and hard copies will not be placed in your mailbox.  This is consistent with the department-wide policy.  Program-wide correspondence will be conducted via the IO psychology listserve (io_psychology@lists.ncsu.edu). It is your responsibility to be sure that you are included on this listserve while you are at NC State by contacting the moderator (currently Dr. Bob Pond).  This policy also means that you need to develop the habit of checking your e-mail regularly.

04 Obtaining North Carolina Residency for Tuition Purposes

If you are not a North Carolina resident, NC State tuition is very costly relative to the resident rate.  Therefore, you are urged to take steps during your first year to obtain residency.  “To qualify as a resident for tuition purposes, a person must become a legal resident and remain a legal resident for at least twelve months immediately prior to classification.”  In the past, this has meant obtaining a North Carolina driver’s license, voter registration card, etc.  For more information, consult the information on obtaining residency at go.ncsu.edu/NCRes.                                               

05 Changing Advisors

You can change advisors by approaching another member of the IO faculty and requesting that he or she become your advisor.  Faculty members are free to decline taking on additional advisees.  If, however, the faculty member agrees to become your advisor, it is your responsibility to report the new assignment to the Graduate Records Assistant in the departmental office (640 Poe) and inform your previous advisor.  If you are changing committee Chairs, you must also submit the appropriate paperwork

06 Thayer Travel Award

If you are going to be making a research presentation (or otherwise actively participating in a research-based event) at SIOP, you should apply for the travel money that Dr. Paul Thayer has so graciously made available to IO graduate students through an endowment.

There is a standard application form for you to complete. For your request to receive full consideration, submit it to the Program Coordinator by the deadline date that is announced on the listserv. This announcement is usually issued early in the spring semester..

Thayer Travel Award Description. The purpose of this award is to encourage graduate students in the Industrial and Organizational Psychology graduate program to become active participants in SIOP. Each year, earnings from the endowment will be paid as a travel grant to the graduate student in the IO graduate program whose participation in the annual conference of SIOP is judged to be most worthy. Participation may be through papers, poster sessions, panels, symposia and similar sessions, and must be research-based. If the participation is part of a joint effort with a faculty member, that faculty member must present a description of the student's role so that the merit of the student's work may be fairly compared with that of other students. If no student's participation as defined is deemed worthy in a given year, the award may be withheld and returned to the corpus of the endowment. Only one presentation may merit the award in any year; if more than one student is involved in that presentation, the award may be shared among them. Judges of student participation will be the graduate faculty in the Psychology Department who identify primarily with the IO graduate program and are members of SIOP. In the event of a tie vote by such faculty members, the Department Head will cast the deciding vote.