Field of Science

Getting a Ph.D. in psychology

Some may have noticed that my posts have been infrequent for the last week or two and wondered why. There is a simple answer to this:


What are quals? They seem to be different in different universities, and quite possibly even between different departments. The top Google hit for "qualifying exam" sounds absolutely nothing like what I am doing. This seems to be true of graduate school in general, which is to say that there policies differ a great deal. I certainly got into trouble as a prospective graduate student by assuming that information I learned about one graduate program would generalize to another. 

One purpose of this blog is to make more information about the process available. So, for those who are interested:

As far as I can tell, the traditional qualifying exam is an examination that qualifies one to work on a Ph.D. That certainly seems to be the case in Piled Higher and Deeper, which is set at Stanford (see the comic below). 

In my department, it works very differently. Our qualifying exams are rolled into a course we take during our first year (usually). This before we get our Master's degree, which is typically at the end of the second year. 

The course is different depending on which research group you belong to. My research group (developmental) actually requires students to take our own qualifying course as well as another. I took the developmental course last semester and am taking the cognition, brain and behavior course this semester.

What is required for the courses can vary a great deal depending on which professor is in charge. This semester, we have a total of 63 hours of examination spread out over 6 tests -- three in the middle of the semester, and three this week. Which is why I have not been posting much.

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