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First Year Requirements

The Graduate Affairs Committee provides an approved list of courses. (See Approved Seminars from Psychology and other departments)

All courses must be taken while the graduate student is registered as a student in the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego. Occasionally exceptions may be granted to this rule (e.g., off-campus study). Students and their advisors should request exception from the Graduate Affairs Committee as early as possible to help the students, their advisors, and the Graduate Affairs Committee anticipate any changes in course requirements.

In the first year of study each student must fulfill the requirements below; one proseminar may be postponed until Year 2. All of the following requirements must be completed satisfactorily for the student to earn a master's degree.

1. Quantitative Methods:

Either (a) take two quantitative methods courses approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee (currently 201A and 201B), or (b) those students who have already completed a graduate statistics course and have demonstrated complete mastery may request permission to take an examination.

2. First Year Proseminar Requirements:

In addition to the quantitative methods requirement, each student is expected to take four proseminar courses from the list prepared by the Graduate Affairs Committee. At least three proseminars must be successfully completed by the end of the first year. In some cases, a fifth proseminar could be petitioned to count towards the seminar requirement.

3. Psychology 270ABC, Introduction to Laboratory Experimentation:

PSYC 270ABC is a three-part required course for all first year students, 4 units per quarter. Fall (270A) and Winter (270B) will be taken as Pass/No Pass. Spring (270C) will be taken for a letter grade based on the final project (paper and presentation). This course does not have an official meeting time. It is the responsibility of each graduate student to work independently with his or her Research Advisor and the Grad Advisor to develop and complete this first year project.

4. Research Project (Including Oral presentation at the Departmental “Little APS” In June):

a) Research Project

Submit and present a research paper on the research project completed for Psychology 270ABC. The paper should be comparable in style, length, and quality to papers published in the standard refereed journals of the student's research area. Papers should be prepared in APA-approved format, as if being submitted for publication to one of the society’s journals. In some cases, students may submit with an alternate format such as Journal of Neuroscience, Brain Research, JEAB, JPSP, Vision Research, or Perception and Psychophysics. By the end of Winter quarter, each student is required to arrange a preliminary meeting with his or her faculty advisor(s) and one additional faculty member of his or her choosing. The purpose of this meeting is to propose the idea for the first year research project in order to receive guidance and feedback. Upon successful completion of the meeting, the first year DocuSign form should be signed by the faculty in attendance and a copy sent to the Grad Coordinator.

The final research paper is due 2 weeks before “Little APS." The paper will be read and evaluated by the student's research advisor and at least two other readers appointed by the Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate Affairs Committee, graded on a five-point scale (1-5, with 5 being the best possible score). Students' papers must average a 3 or greater to be considered passing.

b) “Little APS” (oral presentation of research project)

The research paper will also be presented orally at a research meeting (“Little APS”) at the end of the Spring quarter. “Little APS” is traditionally held on the Saturday before finals in Spring. Attendance at this meeting is required of all graduate students and faculty. Each first year student will have a maximum of ten minutes for his or her presentation, immediately followed by five minutes for questions.

Any student who fails to present a first year paper at “Little APS” will automatically fail the first year requirements. Any request for an exception to this policy must be brought to the Graduate Advisor for approval at least one week prior to the date on which the paper is due (and at least three weeks prior to “Little APS” presentations).

5. Psychology 280, Colloquium

The Psychology Colloquium series (PSYC 280) is a required course for all first through fifth year students in the program. The Colloquium meets on Thursday afternoons, from 4pm – 6pm in 3545 Mandler Hall. First through fifth year students are required to sign up and attend every quarter for 1 unit, Pass/No Pass. During quarters in which job talks replace or partially replace colloquia, students are expected to attend the job talks.

6. Area Brown Bag

Depending on their area of research, each student is either required or encouraged to take the appropriate brown bag for their area.

  • Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience Area - encouraged to sign up for Cognitive Neural System brown bag, PSYC 224
  • Cognitive Area - required to sign up for Cognitive brown bag, PSYC 275
  • Developmental Area - required to sign up for Developmental brown bag, PSYC 242 (2 presentations per year)
  • Social Area - required to sign up for Social brown bag, PSYC 274 (2 presentations in year 1)

7. Psychology 500, Academic Credit for TAship

Academic credit is awarded for each course TA appointment. The TA must sign up for PSYC 500 for 4 units, Pass/No Pass, with the appropriate instructor for every quarter as a TA. This also applies to 25% TAships. Note: Summer TAships do not receive academic credit.

8. Advisor

Students are accepted into the graduate program independent of an advisor. However, students are preliminarily paired with an advisor based on their and the faculty's expressed interest during the recruitment process. This pairing is not necessarily permanent and students (and advisors) have the freedom to alter this arrangement at any time. A student who wishes to change their advisor to a different faculty member, must first receive the new faculty's agreement, and then both must email the Graduate Coordinator. Should an advisor relationship end at any time, students have one quarter to secure an advisor to continue in the program.

Contingent upon approval, students may elect to work with an advisor outside the Psychology Department. Should a student decide to work with an outside faculty member it will be the responsibility of that professor to provide support for the student. It will also be necessary for the student to have a Psychology faculty co-advisor who can keep abreast of the student's research progress.

9. Language Requirement

Foreign students with undergraduate degrees from non-English speaking colleges or universities must demonstrate satisfactory English language skills. Language competency is assessed by an oral interview (about 15 minutes) by a committee comprised of a representative from the department and a linguist. Students who do not have the requisite language skills must enroll in a language training course offered at no cost by the TA Development Program. The department requires that students pass the language screening evaluation by the end of their first year of the program. All of our foreign students to date have used the resources of the TA Development Program and have successfully passed the language screening evaluation.