Individualized Graduate Major

Although most of our incoming graduate students’ interests fall within the five existing Area Groups of Psychology in the department (Biological, Clinical, Cognition and Cognitive Neurosciences, Developmental, and Social/Personality), some do not. That some students’ interests cut across our departmental Area Groups and/or interface with other departments on campus is to be expected in a top-notch department because the boundaries of Psychology itself are in flux. The Individualized Graduate Major is designed for those graduate students who do not find a niche in our current area group structure and, instead, wish to cross traditional Area Group lines and/or incorporate substantial training from other departments in their Psychology graduate work. It is important to emphasize that the Individualized Graduate Major leads to a Psychology Ph.D. and is not appropriate for students whose graduate study does not emphasize Psychological Science. Such students are advised to pursue a Ph.D. in another department or a Committee degree.

Individualized Graduate Major (IGM) Requirements Rev. May 2009

1. MENTOR, MENTORING COMMITTEE, ADMISSION, AND HOME AREA GROUP 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. 2. CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION 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 60 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 60 graduate level credits. 3. DEPARTMENTAL COURSEWORK REQUIREMENTS Same as departmental requirements. 4. GRADUATE SCHOOL MINOR REQUIREMENT Same as departmental requirements. 5. FIRST YEAR RESEARCH REQUIREMENT      CONTENT AND REQUIREMENTS OF THE FIRST YEAR PROJECT Same as departmental requirements.      FIRST YEAR PROJECT COMMITTEE 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. 6. CERTIFICATION FOR THE PRELIMINARY EXAM A student who has completed all Content and 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. 7. PRELIMINARY EXAMINATIONS Same as departmental requirements. 8. DOCTORAL DISSERTATION AND ORAL EXAMINATION Same as departmental requirements. The Mentoring Committee may also be the Dissertation Committee provided it meets the composition rules. 9. SATISFACTORY PROGRESS 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.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 3 members of the Mentoring Committee at least once a year.