The Quantitative Psychology Doctoral Program is intentionally very flexible to allow tailoring to each student’s background and interests. There is not a fixed sequence of quantitative courses that all students in the program must follow, although there is a general framework described below. The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience has several course requirements that students across programs must satisfy. In addition, students may choose to complete a minor course of study.

All students in Quantitative Psychology are expected to attend the Quantitative Psychology Forum scheduled from 12:00-1:00 each Monday. The Forum is a weekly meeting of all faculty and graduate students and consists of research presentations and discussions of professional development issues such as ethics, grant writing, CV development, and journal reviewing.

Our general course of study typically proceeds as follows:

  • Year 1
    • Designed to provide foundational knowledge in statistics and quantitative methods, to receive exposure to topics outside of the quantitative area, and to become involved in research activities
    • Students typically take several quantitative courses (e.g. Statistical Methods in Psychology I and II, Test Theory, Multivariate Analysis, and Computational Statistics)
    • Students typically one or two courses in Psychology outside of the program (e.g. History of Psychology and a substantive course)
    • Students begin coursework in a minor program
    • Students may register for thesis or research credit
  • Year 2
    • Designed to continue to pursue coursework, strengthen foundational knowledge, and to take advanced courses to develop special interests
    • Students typically complete requirements for Psychology outside of the program
    • Coursework in a minor program is continued
    • Students register for thesis credit
    • Students should complete the M.A. Thesis by the end of Year 2
  • Year 3
    • Students take advanced courses in quantitative psychology and other areas of interest
    • Coursework in minor program is completed
    • The major piece of Year 3 is to prepare and complete the Comprehensive Exam
    • Students get more involved in advanced research projects
  • Years 4 – 5
    • Students will take a few advanced courses of particular interest
    • The focus now is research and students will be involved in several research projects
    • Students develop and pursue a dissertation topic

For more information regarding courses, please review the current Graduate Record.

Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive Exams are normally completed during Year 3 of graduate study.

Students designate a Comprehensive Exams Committee composed of at least three faculty members of the Quantitative Psychology Program. Additional committee members may be from other programs and/or departments. This committee does not necessary have the same membership as the Dissertation Committee.

In consultation with the advisor and committee, the student will select three topic areas of interest for in-depth study. The student then generates, with the help of the advisor and committee, a reading list for each topic area, including relevant books and journal articles. This list should be complete as possible to cover relevant literature, both historical and current. The reading lists must be approved by each committee member.

Student reviews the content on the reading lists for 3 – 6 months. At an arranged time, the student completes a take-home exam on the three topic areas. The student has 30 days to complete the exam. The exam is generated by the committee members and students may consult any source, excepting people.

The exam is evaluated on a pass-fail basis by the committee and an unanimous positive vote by the committee is required to pass the exam. The exam is evaluated over a two week period and the committee may consult with the student for clarification.

If the student fails the exam, the student is allowed to retake the exam only once, after a waiting period of three months. Successful completion of the exam means the student is ready to begin work on the formal dissertation proposal.


Students are expected to develop a portfolio containing evidence of their competencies and experiences in the program. This portfolio is developed incrementally over the student’s first three years in the program and is reviewed by the faculty at the end of each academic year. It is designed to help the faculty guide the student in the development of the career and feedback from faculty will be solicited. The portfolio should be updated by April 1 of each academic year.

Contents of the portfolio include:

  • Study Plan
    • The first draft is developed during the first semester of Year 1
    • Includes a general statement of research interests, professional goals, and a proposed set of coursework and research experience to meet these goals
  • Courses Taken/To Be Taken
    • Should meet course requirements
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Computer Experience
    • Proven evidence of competence with a high-level programming language and a statistical package
      • Languages such as C, Lisp, FORTRAN, SAS/IML, MatLab, or Mathematica
      • Statistical Packages such as SAS, S, SPSS, or Systat
  • Teaching Experience
    • A list of courses taught, course evaluations, and any relevant letters from the department chair
    • Additional materials such as seminars or workshops taught, or a statement of personal teaching philosophy, may be included
  • Research Experience
    • May include co-authored publications, submitted manuscripts, research reports, or summaries of research participation, description and documentation of major software developed, presentations of results at conferences, among others
  • Publications
    • At least one substantial scholarly document primarily of the student’s authorship (but not necessarily sole) should be included
    • Plans/outlines for this paper should be included at the end of Year 2 and the paper, with evidence of submission, should be included at the end of Year 3