General Procedures and Strategies

NOTES:  This list is not strictly sequential. Several procedures often occur during the same semester. Please see your advisor if you have any questions. Titles of documents and forms that you will complete are in italics. Make sure that the administrative assistant receives a copy of each of these forms for your file. In order to better track your progress through the program, we have developed a Doctoral Tracking Sheet that does list many of these activities in the order in which they should be accomplished.  It is particularly important that you do not, for example, take Dissertation Proposal hours (PSY 797) before you have successfully defended your comprehensive project (Oral Comprehensive Defense).  Please download and complete this tracking sheet once per year and submit it along with your other supporting materials for the Annual Progress Review.

  1. Take required classes.
    1. Contact your advisor and arrange a meeting at least once each semester to discuss the courses you are taking. Discuss elective coursework with your advisor.
    2. Generally, course offerings will follow the 2-year Course Schedule, although changes will occur due to sabbatical leaves, etc.
    3. Make sure that you pay attention to prerequisites as listed in the Course Description section of the UNC Catalog. If you believe that you can substitute a prerequisite course in another program or at another institution, discuss it first with your advisor and then with the instructor of the advanced course for which the prerequisite is listed.
    4. Familiarize yourself with the general procedures of the Graduate School in the catalog. The general website is for information and forms is
  2. Apply for scholarships (optional.)
    1. If you would like to be considered for a scholarship, fill out a Graduate Scholarship Application on the Graduate School website.
    2. Note that various restrictions apply for each scholarship.
  3. Apply for a Teaching Assistantship (optional.)
    1. For more information, see the teaching assistantship page.
  4. Start your research apprenticeship (Not applicable to students who started their doctoral program prior to Fall 2008).
    1. Read the guidelines for the research apprenticeship.
    2. Meet with your advisor to discuss options for the research apprenticeship.
    3. With your advisor (or another faculty member with whom you are doing the research apprenticeship), complete the research apprenticeship working agreement form and return it to the School of Psychological Sciences office.
    4. Complete your research apprenticeship before completing 36 credit hours in the doctoral program.
  5. Complete your plan of study.
    1. Decide on your choice of advisor and your comprehensive exam committee. Co-advisors are acceptable.
    2. See the Information Regarding Your Plan of Study downloadable from the Graduate School website. This includes the Plan of Study form.
    3. The Graduate School recommends doing this step your second semester on campus, but many faculty members advise their students to do this later (changes are usually necessary).
    4. Meet with your advisor to go through your coursework.
    5. Identify the courses you have completed and match them up against the program requirements. Determine the coursework you need to complete.
    6. Complete the Plan of Study form, have your advisor or your co-advisors sign it, and submit it to the Graduate School. Give a copy to your advisor and the Psychological Sciences office so she can insert it in your file. A memo to the Graduate School from your advisor may be required for any course substitutions.
    7. You may revise your plan of study if necessary. Just fill out the form again. Give a copy to your advisor and to the Psychological Sciences office. Keep a copy for yourself. Submit the revised for to the Graduate School.
    8. Begin to think about your research specialization(s) and possible projects for your comprehensive exam papers (see #7 below.)
  6. Form your Doctoral Committee.
    1. Complete a Request for Appointment of Doctoral Committee form from the Graduate School website. Fill it out and have your advisor sign it. Give a copy to Roberta for your file and submit the form to the Graduate School.
    2. It is required that you have a minimum of 4 members on your committee, one of which is a Faculty Representative from another area who is nominated on this form.
    3. At least 2 members of your committee must be from the School of Psychological Sciences.
    4. All your committee members must have Graduate Faculty Status and your committee chair or one of your co-chairs must have Doctoral Research Status.
    5. The Graduate School will send you a letter confirming the formation of your committee.
  7. Complete your Written and Oral Comprehensive Exams
    1. See the Comprehensive Exams page for more information.
  8. If you haven’t already, start discussions with your advisor regarding your dissertation topic.
    1. You may restructure your committee if necessary. See the Graduate School website for the Request to Change a Doctoral Committee Member form.
  9. Complete your dissertation.
    1. See the Dissertation page for more information.
  10. Apply for graduation late in the semester BEFORE the semester in which you plan to graduate.
    1. A graduation fee is required, and if you do this the same semester you plan to graduate a late fee may also apply.
    2. The Application for Graduation in a Doctoral Program form can be picked up from the Graduate School Office.
    3. If you would like to be hooded at graduation, arrange this with your advisor. You will need to rent/buy Graduation Regalia.
  11. Graduation ceremonies are held in May and December.