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image: Psychology Logo
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
image: UW - Madison Logo
image: Psychology Logo
GRADUATE PROGRAM
Preliminary Exam
About the Exam
Students must notify the graduate coordinator at the beginning of the semester that preliminary examinations are intended to be taken. A student must complete the PhD Minor Form and become certified before the preliminary examinations. After completing the PhD Minor Form and being certified, the student must notify the graduate coordinator of the scheduled date of their preliminary defense. This initiates the warrant request process, which must begin at least three weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. A warrant will then be issued to the student for signatures after the sucessful completion of preliminary exams. By passing the preliminary exams the student demonstrates his or her competence to begin dissertation research. Upon completion and submission of the warrant, the student will obtain dissertator status. (Please note that all department and graduate school requirements (i.e., outside-the-department minor and residence requirement) except the dissertation must be complete in order to obtain dissertator status. See the Graduate School Handbook for further details.)
 Preparation, grading, and administration of the preliminary exams is the responsibility of the area group or the IGM student's mentoring committee subject to the following guidelines:
  1. Each preliminary examination committee shall consist of no fewer than three psychology faculty (no more than one joint/affiliated faculty member may count as a psychology faculty member) 
  2. Exams should be administered so that a student can finish the exam and faculty can strive to grade the exam before the start of the Fall and Spring semesters 
  3. The exam must include at least one or more of the following formats: writing a publication-quality paper, a take-home examination, or a four-hour test session. Regardless of the format, the work must be completed specifically for the preliminary examination, so that previous publications, papers written to fulfill course assignments, or other assignments may not be used for the preliminary examination
If a student fails the preliminary examination, the student may repeat the examination only if the student’s major professor and major area group or mentoring committee grant permission to take the examination a second time. If a student fails the preliminary examination a second time, permission for a third and final attempt must be based on highly unusual circumstances and must be approved by the major professor, the major area group or mentoring committee, and the department. Having failed the examination, if a student does not obtain permission to attempt the preliminary examination a second or third time, the student will be dropped from the graduate program at the end of the semester in which the examination was failed.

PhD Minor Process
This is the first step in the paperwork process to obtain and complete the PhD Minor Agreement Form. It must be completed before a warrant request is sent to the Graduate School. (Therefore, it must be completed and returned at least three weeks prior to the defense date.) For more information about the PhD Minor, please click here.
  1. If you have not notified the graduate coordinator of your intentions to take preliminary examinations during the current semester, do so now. Include your name, area group, and proposed date of defense. 
  2. Download and print the PhD Minor Agreement Form or obtain a hard copy from the graduate coordinator. 
  3. Fill out the appropriate information and gather the necessary signatures. Contact the graduate coordinator if you are having difficulties completing the form. 
  4. Return to the graduate coordinator either in person or via mailbox.
Certification Process
Students who have completed all core courses, at least two seminars or elective courses, and at least two of the three methodology courses may apply for certification. Certification constitutes permission by the area group or mentoring committee for the student to take the preliminary exam. When students are approved for prelims, 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, they may ask for discussion at the next faculty meeting. If no one requests discussion before that meeting, the certification will be considered final.

Applying for certification:
  1. If you have not notified the graduate coordinator of your intention to take preliminary examinations during the current semester, do so now. Include your name, area group, and proposed date of defense. 
  2. Clear all incomplete grades. You will not be eligible for certification until all incompletes are given a grade. 
  3. The graduate coordinator will complete your certification form and submit it for approval from your area group chair. 
  4. Once approval is obtained from the area group chair, you have successfully become certified and eligible for preliminary examinations.
Warrant Process
Please note: Once a student submits a warrant and obtains dissertator status, they can no longer choose to receive their Master's degree. Clinical students do not have to complete the warrant process until their specialty preliminary examination.
  1. If you have not notified the graduate coordinator of your intention to take preliminary examinations during the current semester, do so now. Include your name, area group, and proposed date of defense.
  2. Complete the PhD Minor Agreement and become certified at least three weeks prior to the date of defense. 
  3. Clear any incomplete, unreported, or progress grades (with the exception of progress grades in research/thesis). Independent study must be given a grade. A warrant request will not be issued to the Graduate School until all course deficiencies have been cleared.
  4. The graduate coordinator will then send out a warrant request to the Graduate School. 
  5. Within a few weeks you will recieve the official preliminary warrant. 
  6. Upon successful completion of preliminary exams, obtain all necessary signatures and information to complete the warrant. 
  7. Submit the completed warrant to the graduate coordinator in person or via mailbox.
  8. The warrant will then be submitted to the Graduate School and upon approval you will be granted dissertator status. 
 
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1202 WEST JOHNSON ST, MADISON, WI 53706-1611 OFFICE: (608) 262.1040 or (608) 262.1041 FAX: (608) 262.4029