Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.)

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The Department of Psychology is one of ten programs and departments in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS). Students are accepted into the following specialty areas:


Academic Program Requirements

The Department expects each doctoral candidate to be conversant in the field of psychology as well as expert in his or her specialty area. All students entering with a Baccalaureate degree are required to take three quantitative courses and three core courses in areas outside their specialty area. These courses may be chosen from a group of courses designed to provide graduate level introductions in a variety of specialty areas. The remaining time is devoted to research and coursework required by the student’s specialty area as well as coursework chosen by the student in consultation with his or her advisor on the basis of the student’s interests.

To be admitted to the doctoral program, students must demonstrate “research competence.” Admission to the doctoral program also requires satisfactory completion of certain coursework, and favorable recommendations, from both the research committee and the specialty area, with the final approval made by the Graduate Committee. Research competence may be evidenced by the completion of an acceptable Master’s thesis.

Sometime in the third or fourth year of the program, students take Comprehensive Examinations. The nature of this exam varies by specialty area. Admission to doctoral candidacy requires successful completion of the comprehensive examination, completion of certain course requirements, and the recommendation of the specialty area. After being admitted to candidacy, students begin formally to work on dissertations. The Ph.D. degree requires 12 hours of dissertation credits. Students in the Clinical and Counseling areas also complete an APA required pre-doctoral internship prior to receiving the Ph.D.

For those students who enter with advanced degrees (e.g., M.A., M.S.) the basic requirements are the same. In the event that the student has already had a course comparable to one of our core courses, the student may petition to have that course credited as a core course, or the student may elect to take an advanced course in that area for purposes of satisfying the core requirement. In either case, the student must consult with his/her advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Student Evaluation Procedure

Each student's performance is monitored by his or her advisor on an ongoing basis. The faculty of each specialty area regularly evaluates the grades, research involvement and competency, and, where appropriate, the applied skill developed by each student within the area. Once each year, the student’s specialty area provides the student with a written summary evaluation of his/her progress.

Diversity

Diversity refers to differences in race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, abilities, class, nationality, and other factors. The Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland is committed to creating a respectful and affirming climate in which all students, staff, and faculty are inspired to achieve their full potential. 

We believe that actively fostering an affirming environment strengthens our department as a whole. A department that values and celebrates diversity among its students, staff and faculty is best able to develop the strengths and talents of all members of the department community.

We take a multi-pronged approach to creating an affirming climate within the Department of Psychology by:

  • Attracting, supporting and retaining faculty, students, and staff that represent the diversity of our community and field
  • Cultivating a culture of acceptance and inclusionin which diversity is integral, authentic, intrinsically valued, and visible
  • Welcoming honest and open discussion regarding diversity issues
  • Incorporating diversity as a central component of our academic curriculum
  • Enhancing awareness of diversity issues through ongoing research and applied work
  • Developing and strengthening relationships with diverse community and international partners

Financial Support

The Department generally has been able to provide support for incoming students. As noted earlier, because of the demanding nature of the doctoral program, the Department does not permit students to hold jobs off campus unless they are directly related to the student's education and have been approved by the student's specialty area. Therefore, the need to arrange funding through the Department is essential. Fellowships, teaching and research assistantships are the most common kinds of financial support.

Teaching and Research Assistantships. Teaching and research assistantships provide for remission of tuition of up to 10 credits per semester. Teaching assistants have a 20 hour per week commitment. They generally assist a faculty member with undergraduate courses. Summer stipends are available for some students as well. Research assistantships carry the same stipend as teaching assistantships and require the same number of hours of work per week. The recipient of a research assistantship works under the supervision of a faculty member. Most research assistantships come from grant or contract funds awarded to faculty members in support of their research. Teaching and research assistants are also eligible for the same health insurance options as all other University employees. Insurance premiums are subsidized.

Assistantships from Other Academic Units. There are assistantships offered by other Academic Units (e.g., Departments, Colleges, Centers, etc.) in the university to which psychology graduate students may submit applications for consideration, e.g.,. the University Counseling Center, Office of Student and Employee Services, Resident Life, Judicial Affairs, Career Development Center, BSOS Advising Office, Women's Studies Program, and Human Relations Office. A description of the responsibilities and minimum qualifications and applications may be obtained from the various units.

Fellowships. Fellowships are available for students with outstanding credentials. Graduate Fellowships provide a stipend for the academic year and 12 credits of tuition remission. Health insurance, the cost of which is subsidized by the University, is available. Applicants are nominated on the basis of their credentials by the Department.

The University's location in the metropolitan Washington area affords many opportunities for relevant summer employment for students, whose specialty areas permit them to work off-campus during the summer.

Research and Professional Development Facilities on Campus

The building in which the Department is housed was designed by the faculty to incorporate research and educational facilities for all specialty areas. The building contains special centers for research, with acoustical centers, observational units, video equipment, computer facilities, surgical facilities, and radio frequency shielding. Departmental laboratories are well equipped for research in animal behavior, audition, biopsychology, cognition, coordinated motor control, counseling, industrial/organizational psychology, learning, life-span development, psycholinguistics, psychophysiology, psychotherapy, social psychology, and vision. Listed below are descriptions of some of the on-campus facilities available to both faculty and students in the Department:

Animal Research Laboratories - The animal facilities include housing for colonies of several species, together with testing rooms, histology rooms, surgery, shielded recording facilities, library, and electronic and woodworking shops.

Auditory Research Laboratory - The laboratory contains soundproof rooms, sound generation equipment, and control and programming equipment.

Computer Facilities - The University and the Department have extensive computer facilities. The University computer center, i.e., Academic Information and Technology Services, has mainframe computers, workstations, extensive desktop and color graphics facilities and supports the campus networking systems. The Department and BSOS have their own servers for faculty and graduate students and the BSOS Office of Academic Computing Services (OACS) supports a Novell-based Local Area Network that includes the Department of Psychology. There are ample workstations and PC's for use by all faculty and graduate students. The Department maintains a website at: http://www.psychology.umd.edu.

Cognitive Research Laboratories – There are laboratories devoted to cognitive research and a laboratory is equipped for classroom instruction. The Cognitive Research laboratories are equipped with Apple and IBM based personal computers with network capability and one of the laboratories is also equipped with soundsynthesis, recording and playback capability.

Developmental Research Laboratories - Three laboratories are devoted to developmental research across the lifespan. Each laboratory contains personal computers with network capabilities, and the infant and childhood laboratories also contain modern video and sound equipment for supplementing observational research.

Libraries - The libraries on the College Park campus contain nearly 2,000,000 volumes and subscribe to more than 15,000 periodicals and newspapers. Additional collections of research materials are available on microfilm, microfiche, phono records, tapes and films. The Theodore R. McKeldin Library, the largest on campus, is especially strong in the behavioral and biological sciences. In addition, there are a number of other specialty libraries on campus.

Maryland Revolving Field Monitor (MRFM) is a unique instrument that makes accurate measurements of eye/hand/arm coordination under natural conditions. The MRFM consists of 3 subsystems: The Revolving Field Monitor/sensor-coil subsystem(RFM) measures head and eye rotations., the Sparker Tracking subsystem (STS) measures 3-D head translations, and the "Worktable" subsystem combines the RFM and STS systems for measuring eye-hand coordination (see the description of the SNAPP specialty area for more details).

Neurochemistry Laboratory - The laboratory houses equipment for a wide variety of research in behavioral neurochemistry, such as subcellular tissue fractionation, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and autoradiography.

Psychology Clinic - serves as the training site for doctoral students in clinical psychology through their first three years in the program. The Clinic provides services to both University students and the suburban Maryland and greater Washington, D.C. community. Students have the opportunity to train in individual, group and family therapies as well as specialized training in assessment. The latter includes diagnostic interviewing, behavioral assessment and neurophysiological assessment. Supervision primarily is provided by clinical program faculty. The clinic is equipped with audio visual equipment including a “bug in the ear” device, which is used for both research and clinical supervision. In addition, computers are available for diagnostic testing, neuropsychological assessment purposes, and report writing.

Psychophysiological Laboratory - The laboratory contains programming and psychophysiological equipment for research in biofeedback and psychophysiology, including studies of EEG alpha, eye movements, and various other physiological indices. Soundproof chambers are available for use in sleep research, and tachistoscopes are available for use in research in perception and information processing.

University Counseling Center - The University Counseling Center is a multipurpose mental health facility located on campus for the University community. It provides individual and group counseling, educational skills programs, testing, research consultation, and training. The Center is the primary campus facility for practicum instruction of students in counseling, clinical, and consultation skills. Students gain experience with a college student population who have personal, social, and vocational concerns.

Research, Educational and Development Facilities of the Community

The Department of Psychology has all of the advantages of a large state university, and also has advantages offered by the many resources available in the metropolitan Washington-Baltimore area. The University is approximately 15 miles from the center of Washington, D.C. and is in close proximity to a number of libraries, and state and federal agencies. Students are able to benefit from the excellent additional library resources of the community, such as the Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, and the National Archives (which is located on the UMCP campus).

The metropolitan area also has many psychologists who can provide students with excellent opportunities for collaboration and/or consultation. The specialty areas have established collaborative relationships with several federal and community agencies and hospitals as well as with businesses and consulting firms, where it is possible for students to arrange for research, practicum and internship placement. These opportunities are available for Clinical and Counseling students at the National Institutes of Health, Veteran's Administration clinics and hospitals in Washington, D.C., Baltimore Perry Point (MD), Coatesville (PA), Martinsburg (WV), Kecoughton (VA), and a number of others within a hundred mile radius of the University. Experiences include a wide range of research activities, as well as psychodiagnostic work, psychotherapy, and work within drug and alcohol abuse clinics. Various other hospitals, clinics and research facilities in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan area are also available. Industrial/Organizational students also have opportunities for practitioner experiences in organizations such as The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, GEICO, Bell Atlantic, and various consulting firms.

In addition, because of the University’s location students have excellent access to national resources. The National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and many specialized agencies with national headquarters in the area increase the educational resource and job placement opportunities for students.

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