Graduate programs

Wayne State provides a broad spectrum of graduate education that prepares students for careers in both academic and applied settings. Our graduates are prepared to function effectively as research scientists, scholar-teachers at colleges or universities and professionals in business and industry, health care, schools and government agencies.

We have a dynamic and dedicated faculty with wide-ranging interests and active research programs in almost all areas of modern psychology. Although we are located in a large metropolitan community, the Department of Psychology maintains a sense of cohesiveness among the faculty and graduate students. At Wayne State, graduate education is much more than coursework. It's also the small seminar, the informal discussion group and the intense collaboration of student and faculty members on a research project of great interest to both. Our goal is to create a learning community for all.

Degree programs

Policies and general information

The following information supplements the general procedures and rules of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School. It's the student's responsibility to become familiar with the rules and policies as specified in the Graduate Bulletin.

The information here must also be considered in relation to the policies adopted by each specialty area within the Department of Psychology. Some areas require more specific sequences of coursework, which only applies to the students majoring in that area. The area chairperson should be consulted for further information concerning specific graduate requirements. It is important to become familiar with the processes here to help ensure that all coursework and paperwork is completed in a timely manner.

  • Advising

    It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that the Department of Psychology Graduate Office has the name of their current faculty research advisor on file. Students wishing to change their advisor must complete the Change of Advisor Form and submit it to the psychology department graduate advisor.

  • Academic performance

    At the end of each academic year, each student is evaluated by his/her area committee and by the departmental Graduate Committee and is notified by the Graduate Committee of any deficiencies in academic progress. A student who is not considered by the area committee or by the Graduate Committee to be making adequate progress, either in terms of coursework or in terms of professional development, may be dismissed from the doctoral program. Causes for dismissal and the procedures for dismissal, as well as the process for reviews of student performance, are outlined below.

  • Causes for dismissal

    A student may be dismissed from the graduate program for a) failure to make adequate progress in the program or b) ethical violations.

    Failure to make adequate progress in the program is indicated by one or more of the following:

    • Earning more than two grades of B-minus and below in the program, or having a GPA below B (3.0).
    • Failing the qualifying exams two times.
    • Failing to complete degree milestones within the timeline specified as minimally acceptable progress.
      • A student who does not meet the minimally acceptable progress timeline may be designated as being in "Unsatisfactory Progress" status by the Graduate Committee on the recommendation of the student's area. Any such status change must include a plan deemed adequate by the student's area and the Graduate Committee for the timely completion of the master's or doctoral degree. Failure to meet the specifications of the improvement plan will most likely result in dismissal from the program. The opportunity to extend milestones past the minimally acceptable progress timeline (i.e., being placed in "Unsatisfactory Progress" status) is not guaranteed, and students should not assume that they will be allowed to continue in the program if they fail to achieve the minimally acceptable progress standards.
    • Failing to fulfill specific requirements of the doctoral program identified and communicated to the student by their area.

    Ethical violations are defined as violations of the APA code of ethics. If convincing evidence of violations of these guidelines is brought to the Graduate Committee, the committee may vote to dismiss the student from the program.

  • Procedure for dismissal and review of student progress
    1. Annual review
      1. Each student will be reviewed annually in accordance with department policy.
      2. Reviews can be more frequent if the advisor or area is concerned about any academic performance issues or causes for dismissal.
      3. The advisor will share the review with the student and recommend a course of action.
      4. The Graduate Committee may examine the annual reviews and may bring concerns about a student's progress to the appropriate area.
    2. At any time in the student's graduate career, if the review process raises significant concerns about whether the student should continue in the program, the area should meet and discuss the issues. The student will be notified of the meeting and may make an oral or written presentation of their case to the area.
    3. The area may recommend that the Graduate Committee place a student in "Unsatisfactory Progress" status with clearly defined standards that the student must meet in a defined period of time. The Graduate Committee must approve the improvement plan, and the written decision and the reasons for it will be presented to the student by the advisor. If students meet the standards they are restored to good standing in the program.
      1. Students whose progress is deemed to be "Unsatisfactory" will not be eligible for additional service assignments unless the Graduate Committee approves a request from the student's adviser for an exception to this policy. Students whose progress is deemed to be Unsatisfactory may have their priority for funding reduced or their eligibility for funding eliminated on the recommendation of their area and the approval of the Graduate Committee.
    4. If an area reaches the decision to recommend dismissing a student from the doctoral program, the area will bring this recommendation to the Graduate Committee. The student will be notified of the Graduate Committee meeting and may make an oral or written presentation of their case to the area.
    5. Copies of decisions to put students in "Unsatisfactory Progress" status, remove them from "Unsatisfactory Progress" status, or dismiss them will be placed in the student's file, and copies will be forwarded to the Graduate School.
    6. If a student withdraws from the program, the graduate officer will acknowledge the withdrawal in writing and put a copy in the student's file and forward a copy to the Graduate School.
    7. Appeal processes: The student can utilize one of two appeals processes depending on the reason for the dismissal.
      1. If the reason for the dismissal is related to not meeting the Graduate School's Ph.D. requirements, the line of appeal is to the chair of the Graduate Committee, the dean of the Graduate School, and then to the provost.
      2. For purely academic issues, the student should follow the appeals process outlined in the grade appeal process.
  • Milestones for progress in the program

    The milestones below represent the rate of student progress expected by the Department of Psychology. Students who meet these milestones will obtain their doctorate within five years. Students who do not meet these milestones may lose the ability to apply for additional service assignments or other opportunities (e.g., fellowships, awards, etc.), receive reduced priority for departmental funding (i.e., GTA/GRA/GSA assignments), or be dismissed from the program.

    • Propose master's thesis by the last day of classes of the fall semester of the second year.
    • Defend master's thesis by the last day of classes of the fall semester of the third year.
    • Pass qualifying exam by the start of classes in the fall semester of the fourth year.
    • Propose dissertation by the last day of classes of the winter semester of the fourth year.
    • Complete dissertation by the last day of classes of the winter semester of the fifth year.

    Failure to meet milestones will trigger the following procedures:

    1. At the end of each semester, the Graduate Committee will contact area chairs with a list of students who have not met department milestones.
    2. Students who do not meet milestones but wish to remain in the program will meet with their advisor/mentoring committee to develop a remediation plan. The remediation plan will include things the student must do, within a certain timeframe, to regain expected progress status.
    3. The remediation plan will be submitted to the Graduate Committee which will accept, revise or reject it.

    Additional information

    According to the Department of Psychology's bylaws, "Any student who is considered to be academically unsatisfactory or to be progressing at an unsatisfactory rate shall, together with his/her advisor, be informed of this and shall be given the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Graduate Committee (and department chairperson if the student requests) before final action to drop him/her is taken by the Graduate Committee."

    If an area feels that a student is not making adequate progress or is otherwise academically unsatisfactory for any reason (e.g., failure to secure a research advisor, failure to attend classes, meetings or professional activities, etc.), the area may ask the Graduate Committee to review the student's situation. In such cases, areas should provide the reasons for the request for review, and may provide a recommendation for a resolution of the situation.

    Note: The Graduate School requires that students graduate in seven years. This policy is stated on the Graduate School webpage as follows, Ph.D. time limitation and extension:

    "Students have a seven-year time limit to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. A student whose Ph.D. time limit has expired is regarded by the Graduate School as automatically terminated from the program unless the department submits an appropriately justified request for a time extension and the Graduate School approves that request."

  • Repeating courses

    A student may only petition to repeat a graduate course in which a grade of B-minus or lower is received. Only two such courses may be repeated during the student's graduate studies at Wayne State University. Permission to repeat a course must be obtained from the departmental graduate officer. No more than one grade of B-minus or lower in a given course will be counted against the student with respect to earning more than two grades of B-minus or lower. Students will not receive university financial aid for the repetition of courses.

  • Program load and stopping out

    A full-time graduate student is one who is enrolled for eight or more credits during a semester. A half-time graduate student for the purpose of deferring loans is one who is enrolled in at least 4.5 credits. Graduate assistants are required to register for at least six credits each semester.

    Students are expected to be registered for at least one credit each semester they are a student in the program. The department recognizes that illness or other personal reasons may mean a student must take some time away from the program. A student will be allowed to take up to four semesters (total) off without being dropped from the program.

    The following issues need to be understood by the student:

    • The clock defining progress in the program is not stopped by taking time off from the program. The reasons for taking time off will be given consideration, however, when the area and the graduate committee evaluate the student, and when requests for time extensions are considered
    • Time off from the program is not granted automatically, and students must apply to the graduate committee for permission. Application forms will be available in the graduate office
    • At the end of each semester that the student is not registered, the student must contact the department graduate officer to indicate whether or not they will be registering the following semester. Failure to do this will be considered a lack of progress in the program and will put the student at risk of termination from the program

    Requests to "Stop Out" should be emailed to the Department of Psychology Graduate Office, Please include details regarding the reason for the request and the plan to return.

  • Course equivalency and transfer credit

    A student wishing to transfer graduate credit should email the Department of Psychology Graduate Office,, the list of courses (number and name), a copy of the transcript(s), and each individual syllabus for a course equivalency evaluation.

    Afterward, the student will need to fill out the Petition for Transfer of Graduate Credit and Transfer of Credit Ph.D. forms, with their plan of work (either master's or Ph.D., depending on which program the credit is to be applied to). Please note that you may transfer as many courses as you wish, but those obtaining a Master's degree must complete 24 graduate credits at Wayne State University and Ph.D. students must complete at least 30 credits of coursework and 30 dissertation credits at Wayne State University.

  • Directed study

    Independent study may be authorized for areas of interest not covered by courses scheduled at the time the student is completing course requirements. Before registering for a directed study, students should prepare a Petition and Authorization For Directed Study form. Once completed, the form needs to be submitted to the Department of Psychology graduate advisor.

  • Residency

    Graduate students must spend their first academic year in full residence. By departmental regulation, they are required to complete at least six three-credit courses during their first academic year. This is exclusive of research and thesis credits. Any incompletes in these six courses must be removed prior to the fall semester of the second year.

  • Teaching

    The department requires that all doctoral candidates do some teaching during their graduate program. This will be arranged to be minimally burdensome to those students having outside obligations such as clinical placements. For those students who find teaching challenging, you can visit the Office of Teaching and Learning.