MPhil requirements (years 3 and 4)
The requirements for the MPhil.
degree must be completed by end of Year 4 and appropriate paperwork
indicating completion of requirements must be submitted to GSAS by May 15th
of Year 4 (i.e., by the end of the 8th semester of graduate work). The
MPhil students need both a primary and secondary advisor (as per the MA
1) Completion of all MA Requirements.
2) Register for Monday Seminar each semester (listed as PSYC GR9397x and
3) Register for the Colloquium series each semester.
(This is listed as GR9999x and GR9999y).
4) Register for Supervised Individual Research each semester (GR6600x and GR6600y).
5) Presentation at the Annual Research Day. This will be held at the end
of the spring semester, each year. Further details will be sent by email
each year. All advanced students will make a yearly presentation of their
research to the entire department at the Annual Research Day.
6) Yearly Reviews of Satisfactory Progress. The student must demonstrate to the
Primary and Secondary Advisors satisfactory progress at the end of each
year. Prior to May 1st of each academic year, the student needs to meet with
both his/her Primary and Secondary Advisor to review progress on their
research and to discuss any issues of concern. Prior to this meeting, the
student should prepare a 1-2 page written proposal/plan for the upcoming
summer. Summer funding is contingent upon residence in NYC during the summer
and upon an acceptable research plan, approved at this meeting, for the
summer and for the following academic year.
7) Apply for External Funding (e.g., NSF, NSERC, or other brief proposal, such as with a foundation). Note that an NRSA proposal is a major undertaking. If you decide to apply for this particular grant (and we urge you to do so), it can count as 2 comps--please see below under (10). If you are not applying for an NRSA, however, and you do not have external funding already, you must apply for any other small grant(s) for which you are eligible.
8) Two Additional Elective Graduate Level Courses. These can be graduate level seminars or lecture courses from
Psychology or from another department at Columbia (or institution that
offers cross-registration, such as NYU). Monday seminar and lab meetings
offered for credit do not count for this requirement. You must receive a
grade of B- or better in any elective course that you want to count towards
your M. Phil.
9) One Statistics Course Beyond the One Taken to
Fulfill the MA Requirement.
a) Currently, a two course statistics
sequence (G6006-G6007) is being offered. These courses are specifically
designed for you, and you are urged to fulfill the statistics requirement
with these courses. If you took one of these two courses as part of your MA
requirements, the other can count for the M.Phil. requirement.
b) Alternatively, as long as you have taken one of these courses, you can take
another course selected from an approved list of statistics courses,
including Niall Bolger’s new methodology course G6050 as well as many other
courses from outside the department. The second statistics course should be
completed by the end of your third year. For a list of approved statistics
courses see the following link.
10) Comprehensives. The student must fulfill three comprehensives to complete their MPhil. The comprehensives are intended to broaden the student's research experience and add to both the breadth and depth of his or her knowledge base. Ideally, they may also result in publications. The goals of the comps are: (1) to enhance the student’s competence in his or her primary area of research, (2) to enhance competence in methodology, and (3) to provide competence in an area of psychology outside the area of the dissertation research. This latter will be invaluable when students apply for jobs, and when they interview. The student should work closely with his or her advisor to determine a plan for the comprehensives that will further the student’s own needs and research objectives.
The comp requirements can be satisfied by conducting three separate projects or by writing an National Research Service Award (NRSA; which counts for 2 comps), plus one additional project. Students are encouraged to conduct comps with core faculty members of the Department of Psychology. However, because the academic goals of different students differ, some students (guided by the advice of their mentor, and with permission from the DGS) may benefit from doing one or more comp with other faculty, such as with researchers in MBBI, the School of Business, the Department of Biology, Teacher's College, or Barnard College. One of the three comps may be conducted with the student's primary advisor.
For each of the individual comps, the student should first discuss with their advisor, in detail, how the particular comp will contribute to their research plan and to their intellectual objectives. Then, they should approach the potential comp mentor(s). If the faculty member agrees, the student should make a 'contract' with that comp mentor, that outlines the structure, timeline and end-product of the comp. Together they should lay out the plan of the project and agree on what is needed to fulfill that plan. For instance, conducting and writing up an experiment resulting in a manuscript that is ready to be submitted for publication might be the agreement. Alternatively, a literature review, a meta-analysis, or a theoretical model, resulting in a submission-ready paper, might be the agreement. Alternatively, the student might learn a new skill, (gaining, for example, fluency in ERPs, TMS, Bayesian statistics, neural network models), or they might do serious research with a different participant population than the one with which they would normally engage (for example, minority populations, infants, children, birds, rats, mice, monkeys, elders, memory champions, patients with schizophrenia, people with eating disorders, substance users, artists, prisoners, etc.). The particular details of the contract will depend on both the student and the comp mentor, who should consider the student’s overall goals and interests to determine what comps would most benefit the student. The comps need to have a clearly demarcated endpoint, that should be specified in the agreement that is made at the outset between the student and the comp mentor. These contracts may vary greatly depending on the students' intellectual path, but the expectations need to be coherent with the student’s overall goals (as discussed with the primary advisor) and well defined between the comprehensive mentor and the student. In those cases in which the student is eligible, he or she is strongly encouraged to fulfill two of the comps by writing and submitting an NRSA. The grant writing experience is invaluable, and many alumni of the program have attested to the importance of learning this skill in graduate school. In the case of using an NRSA (which is assumed to be developed with his or her primary advisor) for 2 comp requirements, the third comp must be conducted with a different faculty member. Taking advantage of the opportunity to write and submit an NRSA honors two of the three 'in principle' goals, namely, that students develop in-depth knowledge in the specific area of their own research, and that they learn the crucial pragmatic skill of grant writing, a skill that will be of importance for their career.