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This prelim assignment applies to all students admitted to the PhD program in P&SC, P&SC/Women’s Studies, or P&SC/Social Work beginning Fall 2015. Students admitted prior to Fall 2015 may choose between this prelim assignment or the 2013/14 prelim assignment.

This assignment consists of two major components: Course Portfolio and Research Proposal. Both components are due by May 15 of the student’s second year. Area faculty are available to answer questions, but should not be expected to read drafts. Students may consult with others as well (e.g., classmates), but the final products should be their own independent work.

Course Portfolio
Develop a course related to Personality and Social Contexts (P&SC). Students must meet with the prelim coordinator to get approval of their course topic by March 15 of their second year. The prelim coordinator will evaluate whether the course topic sufficiently incorporates issues that are relevant to Personality and Social Contexts and Gender & Feminist Psychology. Joint students are encouraged to develop courses and research proposals that are relevant to both psychology and women’s studies (e.g., drawing on theories, methods, or topics from both disciplines).

Regarding content, the course should include perspectives from Psych 654 as well as Psych 854/855 (P&SC theory and methods courses). In addition, the course should cover perspectives from at least two sub-areas of psychology beyond P&SC (or, for joint students, perspectives from their other field). Through this portfolio, students should demonstrate breadth of knowledge in their field(s).

The course portfolio must include the following elements:

  • Detailed syllabus that includes a description of the course, its goals and objectives, major assignments, and schedule of readings and topics to be discussed throughout the semester.
  • PowerPoint slides, with lecture notes, for two of the course periods. Choose course periods (other than Day 1 when you introduce the syllabus) that demonstrate some of the broad-based theories that underlie the course.
  • A synopsis of readings and learning goals for each individual class period, with attention to how the readings support the learning goals.

Research Proposal
Develop a proposal for a new research project that you would like to conduct but have not yet done so (i.e., not the 619). The proposal should include a literature review, specific aims or hypotheses, proposed methods, and a budget. Below are the required sections, with recommended lengths.

  • Project Description (approximately 10-12 pages total, single-spaced, 12-point font)
    • Background/literature review: This section should show that you understand the literature. It should also logically lead up to the aims and/or hypotheses that will follow. (4-6 pages)
    • Specific aims and/or hypotheses. (1/2 – 1 page)
    • Method: This section should include participants, procedures, materials/measures, and analytic framework. Be certain to include enough detail that the reader can be confident in your ability and knowledge to implement these methods. Make clear that the methods are feasible. Address ethical considerations. (4-6 pages)
  • Project Budget: Include a budget table, with language that justifies expenses; be specific. (1-3 pages)

Evaluation Process
The Personality and Social Contexts faculty will evaluate all aspects of the prelim portfolio. The grades will consist of pass and revise. Students must have all materials in the portfolio reach a grade of pass before they will be considered having fulfilled the preliminary exam requirement.  Students must complete their preliminary exam requirement and all of the other requirements for candidacy before the beginning of the fall semester of their third year in order to ensure funding. After submitting their portfolios, students will receive feedback from the faculty within four weeks. Students who have to revise part of their portfolios will be given a deadline by the prelim coordinator for submitting revised materials. Failure to successfully complete the prelim requirement may result in discontinuation of the student from the program.