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Psychology Graduate Handbook

A masters thesis consists of the design, implementation, and reporting of the results of a research project. The project is carried out under the direction of a major professor and the thesis committee. The thesis option will be of special benefit to those who plan to seek a doctoral degree. The thesis is less universallyexpected of an applicant to a Psy.D. program. Why do a thesis? A thesis is a means to demonstrate interest and competence in scientific and scholarly work, which is what most doctoral programs are interested in instilling in their students. A thesis requires effort and organizational skill. The decision to do a thesis should follow a realistic assessment of the time, energy, commitment, and financialresources necessary to complete the project. Full-time students take anywhere from one to two years to complete a thesis. Graduate students who pursue a thesis option for the Master of Science degree should first spend some time becoming acquainted with the faculty. Faculty interests can be seen by, a) viewing faculty web pages, b) reviewing research articles posted in the front of the psychologydepartment offices, or c) looking up a faculty member on PSYCHINFO. It is a good idea to ask fellow students about faculty members and look at the number and nature of theses that a faculty member has directed in the past. Being accepted into the program does not guarantee a student access to a thesis director/major professor. Students must find a faculty member who is willing to work with them.Research Methodologies
Students can develop their own topic and approach a faculty member, or they can ask a faculty member if she or he has a project in mind that could be used as a thesis. Research projects suitable for theses are not restricted to experimental studies. Past theses in the psychology department have utilized historical, experimental and correlational designs. Single-caseexperimental designs, quasi-experimental designs, multivariate designs, and surveys are all acceptable methodologies. Replication and extension of previous scientific research is also acceptable and original contributions to the scientific literature are strongly encouraged.

Thesis Registration and Coursework
A student who decides to do a thesis must register for PSYC 6902-Independent Study credit.Students typically register for 6-hours of Independent Study before the thesis proposal

Psychology Graduate Handbook meeting. Students must have completed the proposal in order to receive a grade. Until then, an In Progress (IP) grade will be assigned. Students are not advised to sign up for all 6 independent study hours in one semester. A student who begins a thesis and then decides to switchto the practicum track must do enough work to receive credit for the independent study hours for which they registered while in the thesis track. Additionally, it is advantageous for students to take PSYC 6190 (Research Methods) and 6290 (Research Statistics) as early as possible in the program of study if they plan to pursue a thesis. The Psychology Department will allow students to use reusabletesting materials and laboratory equipment in our supplies as long as such use does not conflict with faculty teaching. The cost of any other expendable supplies is the responsibility of the student. Students can apply for a Student Research Fellowship. Information on the fellowship can be accessed at the AUM Research Council’s web site ( space will also be provided by the department whenever available.

Thesis Construction
The full thesis consists of the following chapters: Review of Literature, Statement of the Problem, Methods, Results and Discussion. A reference list is required and appendices are usually necessary. The full thesis should be presented at the thesis defense meeting.

The Proposal Meeting
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