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Individualized Graduate Major (IGM) Requirements

Rev. October 2006


Each student selecting an Individualized Graduate Major will have a 4-person faculty Mentoring Committee, with at least 3 faculty members with their main appointment in Psychology.  The Chair of the Mentoring Committee, who must have an appointment in Psychology with graduate student privileges, will serve as the student's primary mentor/advisor.  The Chair of the Mentoring Committee and the student are responsible for selecting the 3 other members of the committee.  The proposed composition of the Mentoring Committee must be submitted to the Graduate Committee by November 1 of the student's first year in the program, and any subsequent changes in the composition of the Mentoring Committee must be approved by the Graduate Committee.  As outlined in this document, the Graduate Committee is the "Higher Authority" from which the student and his/her Mentoring Committee must seek approval on various issues.  The Graduate Committee will closely monitor the progress of all students pursuing an Individualized Graduate Major.

For students electing the individualized Graduate Major at the outset, the typical sequence would be that when the student applies for graduate study in Psychology, an individual Psychology faculty member (or members in the case of joint primary advisorship) would select the graduate student and be the primary mentor/advisor.  The graduate student's "home" would be in the mentor's area group even though that Area Group's requirements would not apply to the student.  The student would be considered a member of the mentor's Area Group for the purpose of Fellowship rankings.  Provision of a home for the student in the mentor's Area Group would prevent the student from becoming isolated and facilitate the student's social connections to other students.  The student would be on the E-Mail student distribution list for this Area Group as well as any other Area Groups relevant to the student's research interests.  The student would be expected to attend Brown-Bags in this Area Group unless the Mentoring Committee agreed that Brown-Bags in another Area Group (or Area Groups) would be more appropriate.  The student would be expected to attend at least 1 Psychology Department Brownbag per week and make at least 1 presentation per year in a Psychology Department Brownbag.


The student and his/her Mentoring Committee will formulate an "Ideal" curriculum for the student that must be approved by the Graduate Committee by the end of the student's first semester.  Of course, the student's curriculum can evolve over time.  The Mentoring Committee must approve the curriculum on a semester-by-semester basis, and the Graduate Committee must approve any significant changes from the proposed curriculum.  To earn the Ph.D., the student must fulfill the Graduate School requirement of at least 32 graduate level credits (no audits or pass/fails) taken as a graduate student at UW-Madison.  However, it is expected that students will complete significantly more than 32 graduate level credits.


The departmental course requirements for the Individualized Graduate Major consist of four different segments:  core courses, methodology courses, seminars, and workshops.  The purpose of core courses is to give students a broad base in psychology.  The methodology courses are intended to provide the skills necessary for designing and analyzing research projects.  And, the seminars allow for depth in areas of special interest to the student.  Finally, the workshops provide training in the responsible conduct of research and professional development.

            Core Course Requirement

Average grade of B or better and no grade lower than a BC in 2 core courses in psychology representing no fewer than 2 different area groups.

                    By end of Year 1:  Complete at least 1 core course in any area
                    By end of Year 3:  Complete core course requirement

            Methodology Requirement

Three methodology courses from those approved by both the Mentoring Committee and the Graduate Committee.  Methodology courses may include those from the list approved by the department and/or other methodology courses not on the list (e.g., computer modeling, signal processing, etc.) if they are especially relevant to the student's research interests.  The average grade for all 3 courses must be B or better.  

                    By end of Year 1:  Complete at least 1 methodology course
                    By end of Year 3:  Complete methodology requirement

            Seminar Requirement

Two graduate level seminar/elective courses taken within the Department of Psychology.  Graduate electives are graduate courses numbered 600 or higher that are not counted as satisfying the Core or Methodology requirements. Only courses in which a grade of B or better or S can be used to fulfill this requirement.  One credit hour "proseminar" courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement. NOTE:  Courses taken to fulfill the outside-the-department minor requirement may also be used to fulfill department requirements unless specified otherwise.  (source:  Graduate Committee Minutes, 9/27/93)

By end of Year 2:  Complete at least 1 seminar/elective course in Psychology.  The remaining seminar/elective course in Psychology may be taken at any time before the granting of the Ph.D. degree.

            Professional Development Requirement

            Same as departmental requirements


Students selecting the Individualized Graduate Major must fulfill the Graduate School Minor Requirement, as do students opting for the standard Psychology Ph.D. 

A Ph. D. Minor must be approved by your Mentor Committee Chair and Department Chair at the time of certification for preliminary examination. Two options are available:

      1. Requires a minimum of ten credits in a single department/major field of study other than the student's major department. Selection of this option requires approval from the minor department.
      2. Requires a minimum of ten credits in one or more departments and can include coursework in the major department. Within Pyschology, courses that count toward the minor requirement must be taken outside the student's major area group. Courses used to meet the coure course requirement and the seminar/elective requirement may also be used toward fulfilling the minor requirement. Methodology courses beyond the three required may also count.



            Same as departmental requirements.


The committee will consist of three Psychology faculty including the mentor and represent at least two Area Groups.  All members of the committee may (but need not) be from the Mentoring Committee.  

The duties of the First Year Project Committee are identical for students selecting the Individualized Graduate Major and those selecting the standard Psychology Ph.D. 

Evaluation of the First Year Project and the Retention Decision are identical to that for the standard Psychology Ph.D. 


A student who has completed all core courses, 2 seminar/electives in Psychology, and at least 2 of the 3 methodology courses may apply for certification by notifying the Graduate Studies and Admissions office,  Certification constitutes permission by the Mentoring Committee for the student to take the preliminary exam.  The date of the student's prelims is at the discretion of the Mentoring Committee, but cannot be before the beginning of the third year.  When students are approved by their Mentoring Committees, a notice to that effect will be posted outside the Chairperson's office and the certification will be announced on the call for agenda items for the next faculty meeting.  If any faculty member wishes to discuss the certification decision, he/she may ask for discussion at the next faculty meeting.  If no one requests discussion before that meeting, the certification will be considered final.


            Same as departmental requirements.


Same as departmental requirements. The Mentoring Committee may also be the Dissertation Committee provided it meets the composition rules.  


Department and Graduate School requirements for satisfactory progress are identical for students selecting the Individualized Graduate Major and those selecting the Traditional Psychology Ph.D., except that the Mentoring Committee, rather than the student's Area Group, makes the judgments about  satisfactory progress.  (See Section VII.1-3 of the Guidelines, p. 5-6).

The Mentoring Committee will review graduate student progress in the spring of each year by no later than one month after the beginning of instruction.  At the option of either the student or the Mentoring Committee [e.g., if the student is having academic difficulties], a student would be reviewed in the Fall semester as well.

 The student and the mentor will meet together with the other 4 members of the Mentoring Committee at least once a year.

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