Programs

Program Structure

We offer full-time programs of study leading to a Ph.D. in psychology. The program is research oriented, following an apprenticeship model. This means that students work closely with a faculty member in developing their research skills, and most program requirements (required courses and major projects) are designed to foster students' ability to pursue independent research. It is anticipated that most students will initially need significant guidance in developing research projects; however, by the end of the program students should have developed into independent researchers.

There are three program streams depending on entry degree and whether an MA/MSc will be obtained en route to the PhD:

  1. Entering with bachelor’s degree to the MA/MSc program; intent to enroll in PhD program after MA/MSc
  2. Entering with bachelor’s directly into PhD program; no MA/MSc en route
  3. Entering with MA/MSc into PhD program; Master’s obtained from University of Alberta or another institution

Course Requirements

Three courses provide the foundation for all students in our graduate program, and are typically taken during the first year of graduate study:

  1. PSYCO 502: Professional and Ethical Issues
  2. PSYCO 531: Design and Analysis in Psychological Research I
  3. PSYCO 532: Design and Analysis in Psychological Research II

Additional courses are required to be taken in focal and related domains of research, depending on program stream, and are typically taken in the first and second years of graduate study.

Program Stream Required Courses
Bachelor's to MA/MSc 502, 531, 532
1 course in focal research area
2 courses in related research areas
Bachelor's to PhD 502, 531, 532
1 course in focal research area
2 courses in related research areas
MA/MSc to Phd 502, if entering from another institution
Courses (e.g., 531, 532) for which equivalent experience was not obtained previously

Additional courses internal and external to the Department may be taken as electives or required at the discretion of the student's supervisory committee, and the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and Research depending on the background of the student and area of specialization.

Milestones

It is expected that students entering with a bachelor’s degree will take at least four years to complete the PhD and students entering with a Master’s degree will take at least three years. Progress through the program is evaluated in terms of milestones, or major projects that are expected to be achieved or accomplished on a given timeline, depending on program stream. Important milestones are:

  • First-year research project: an empirical research project resulting in a report written by the student, normally conducted with significant guidance from the student's supervisor.
  • Second-year research project: a research project conducted with some input from the student’s supervisor, resulting in a report usually in the form of a scholarly journal article written by the student. An oral examination is held to determine whether the project has been completed successfully.
  • Master’s thesis: a research project conducted with some input from the student’s supervisor, resulting in a thesis written by the student. A Master’s degree is earned on the successful oral defense of the thesis.
  • PhD candidacy: student demonstrates mastery of an area of research in psychology through a written qualifying exam and an oral examination. Successful examinations culminate in the student’s status as a PhD candidate.
  • Dissertation proposal: student writes a proposal that will form the basis of the PhD research. Once approved, the student begins dissertation research.
  • PhD dissertation: student conducts a research project that forms the basis of written Ph.D. dissertation. The dissertation project should be independent research that makes a significant contribution to the field. Successful oral defense of the dissertation culminates in the PhD degree.
Program Stream Year Milestone to be Achieved
MA/MSc 1
2
3
4/5
First-year research project
Master's thesis
PhD candidacy/Dissertation proposal
Dissertation proposal/PhD dissertation
Bachelor's to PhD 1
2
3
4/5
First-year research project
Second-year research project
PhD candidacy/Dissertation proposal
Dissertation proposal/PhD dissertation
Master's to PhD 1
2
3/4
PhD candidacy
Dissertation proposal
Dissertation preliminary draft/PhD dissertation

Detailed information on degree requirements may be found in the Policy Manual, particularly under Requirements for Graduate Degrees.