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Psychology Dissertation

Policies and Procedures

Steps for Completing Dissertation Requirements

  1. Committee Formation & Member Requirements
  2. Registration in Dissertation Research Class
  3. Proposal Preparation
  4. TurnItIn
  5. Preliminary Oral Defense
  6. Institutional Review Board
  7. Final Oral Defense
  8. Dissertation APA Format Clearance
  9. Continuous Enrollment Status
  10. Final Document Submission
  11. Degree Posting

1. Committee Formation & Member Requirements

The student selects a topic area of interest and considers which member(s) of the faculty may be interested.

The student selects a chairperson with whom the student has established a good working relationship. Students are provided with information on faculty backgrounds and research interests (see Appendix B - Psy.D. Program Clinical Dissertation Chair Information) and may set up appointments with faculty members with whom they are interested in working with.

Once the chairperson is identified, the second and third members are selected in consultation with the chair. The committee will direct, in consultation with the student, all phases of the dissertation process, and will conduct the preliminary and final oral defenses.

Committee Formation Requirements:

  • All members who serve on dissertation committees must hold an earned doctoral degree from an academically accredited institution.
  • Dissertation committees require a minimum of three individuals.
  • Chairperson - must be a full-time, tenure track GSEP psychology faculty member.
  • Second member (internal member) - must be a full-time, tenured/tenure track psychology faculty member, a GSEP Clinic Director, Lecturer in psychology, or an Emeritus Psychology faculty member.
  • Third member (external member) - must be selected from outside the psychology full-time, tenured/tenure track, must possess an earned doctorate and expertise to contribute to the supervision of the dissertation.

After the dissertation committee is formed the student must submit the following:

  • Appendix A - Petition for Constitution of Clinical Dissertation Committee must be submitted to the Psy.D. Program Administrator for approval by the Psy.D. Program Director PRIOR to scheduling the Preliminary Oral Defense. (Note: if the third committee member is not a full-time Pepperdine faculty member from another department or a current adjunct psychology faculty member, a curriculum vita must be submitted along with the Appendix A)

If the committee membership changes after the committee has been constituted and approved, Appendix A-1 - Petition for Change in Constitution of Clinical Dissertation Committee must be submitted to the Psy.D. Program Administrator and approved by the Psy.D. Program Director.

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2. Registration in Psy. 795 Clinical Dissertation Supervision

Students are required to register in Psy. 795, Clinical Dissertation Supervision, during the fall semester of Year 2, and each term thereafter until they have successfully completed their clinical dissertation.

Enrollment units in Psy. 795 follows the following sequence:

  • Year 2: Fall (.5), Spring (2), Summer (1)
  • Year 3: Fall (2), Spring (2), Summer (1)
  • Year 4: (2) units per term for a total of (6) units per academic year until completion of clinical dissertation.

Exceptions must be approved by the clinical dissertation chairperson and the Psy.D. Executive Committee. Students who have not completed the dissertation by the end of the third year of doctoral studies, may request the permission of a Clinical Dissertation Seminar instructor to attend meetings of that seminar group.

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3. Proposal Preparation

The student's chair and committee members will provide guidance during proposal preparation and will decide when the proposal is ready for presentation at the Preliminary Oral Defense.

Please refer to the Psy.D. Clinical Dissertation Handbook: Updated May 2017 for more detailed information on focusing the dissertation, different clinical dissertation methods and formats, and development of the clinical dissertation.

Clinical Dissertation Time Line

The various stages of the dissertation process are summarized in Table 3 Development of the Clinical Dissertation in the Psy.D. Clinical Dissertation Handbook  and is based on the goal of completing all phases of the dissertation prior to going on full-time internship in the fourth year. Specific dissertation activities and the length of time for each phase (e.g., data collection) may vary based on the type of clinical dissertation chosen. Many students complete the final writing of the dissertation during the fourth year of the program. Progression through the stages of the dissertation according to this chart will facilitate the timely completion of the project.

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4. TurnItIn

Prior to scheduling the preliminary oral exam, the student will submit the dissertation proposal (usually first three chapters of dissertation) through TurnItIn (TurnItIn Instructions) via the "GSEP Writing Support" course in Courses (powered by Sakai).

The student will forward the report to his or her dissertation chair.

The dissertation chair will review the TurnItIn report, ensuring the bibliographic and quoted material are excluded from the results, and work with the student to resolve any issues related to originality, extensive quotation, improper quotation, etc. The dissertation chair is responsible for ensuring that the proposal is free of plagiarism.

In cases of matching text, students will have the opportunity to correct and resubmit their proposals through TurnItIn as needed.

The dissertation chair will sign the student's Appendix C - Preliminary Oral Examination Completion form to verify review.

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5. Preliminary Oral Defense (POD) - Presentation of research proposal (usually first 3 chapters of dissertation)

At least two weeks prior to the desired date of the preliminary oral defense, the student should:

  1. Notify the Psy.D. Program Administrator to schedule the preliminary oral. The administrator will reserve a room and circulate an oral announcement.
  2. Email a pdf file copy of the dissertation proposal to the Psy.D. Program Administrator.

During this two week period, all GSEP faculty have an opportunity to review the proposal and comment to the chair. The research proposal document must be presented in a manner consistent with the requirements of APA format.

Although chairpersons may conduct the preliminary oral defenses differently, these orals essentially consist of three components.

  • First, a presentation by the student of the proposal followed by a question and discussion period.
  • Second, the student and all observers will be excused from the room so that the committee may deliberate the proposal and the performance on the preliminary oral defense.
  • Finally, a decision is made by the committee. The committee members will sign Appendix C - Preliminary Oral Examination Completion which indicates the outcome of the preliminary oral defense. If there are any requested changes from the committee, the chairperson will inform the student immediately following the Preliminary Oral Defense.

Following the oral defense, a copy of the proposal, the written summary from the chair of any required changes, and Appendix C are maintained on file with the program administrator.

Advancement to candidacy for the Psy.D. Program requires that a student pass both the Preliminary Oral Defense and the Clinical Competence Examination.

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6. Graduate & Professional Schools Institutional Review Board (GPS IRB) - Implementing the Methodology

Once the doctoral candidate has successfully completed the Preliminary Oral Defense, candidates must, under the direction of the chairperson, apply to the Graduate & Professional Schools IRB.

All doctoral students must receive GPS IRB approval before implementing the research methodology. If the data collection involves humans, including but not limited to, interviews, surveys, test scores, observations, and archival data involving individuals, your research is subject to IRB review.

Psychology Division Methods Review

All GSEP psychology students submitting expedited or full review applications must first submit their research proposals to the Psychology Division Methods Review Committee for approval before submitting the proposal for GPS IRB review.

For information about the Psychology Division Methods Review, see the Psychology Division Methods Review Policy, or contact the Psychology Division Methods Review Committee, Dr. Cary Mitchell, at 310-506-8553 or at cary.mitchell@pepperdine.edu..

Details of the GPS IRB process and application forms are available at the Pepperdine Community webpage for Graduate and Professional Schools IRB

NOTE: Candidates must communicate with their chairperson any changes in the methodology. If changes impact human subject considerations, candidates may also need to resubmit the proposal for GPS IRB review and approval.

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7. Final Oral Defense (FOD) - Presentation of Dissertation Findings

The Final Oral Defense is open to the academic community and guests of the candidate. The intent of the examination is to demonstrate that the candidate has obtained the degree of scholarly advancement which permits them to be recommended to the University for the Doctorate. Candidates at the final oral are essentially defending the dissertation findings and are participating in scholarly challenges to methodology, analysis and conclusions.

At least two weeks prior to the desired date of the final oral defense, the student should:

  1. Notify the Psy.D. Program Administrator to schedule the final oral defense. The administrator will reserve a room and circulate final oral announcement.
  2. Submit an electronic copy (Word files are fine) of the dissertation manuscript to the Psy.D. Program Administrator.

Although chairpersons may conduct the final oral defenses differently, these orals essentially consist of three components.

  • First, a student's presentation of research findings.
  • Second, a question and discussion period.
  • Finally, a decision is made by the committee. The committee members will sign Appendix D - Final Oral Examination Completion which indicates the outcome of the final oral defense. If there are any requested changes from the committee, the chairperson will communicate them to the student immediately following the final oral defense. There are three possible decision outcomes:
    1. Pass without revisions
    2. Pass with revisions
    3. Fail

Students who pass with revisions must make the requested revisions to their dissertation by the date specified by the committee.

It is the students responsibility to have Form E-1 - Approval of Final Clinical Dissertation Manuscript signed by their chairperson at their Final Oral Defense.

In the event that a student does fail, the student's committee will require major revisions, collection of additional data, and/or other steps to improve the quality of the dissertation, the report, or the final defense. In addition, the situation will be reviewed by the Psy.D. Executive Committee which may make additional recommendations to the dissertation committee or the student. Following a second failure, the Psy.D. Executive Committee in collaboration with the Faculty Panel may consider the dismissal of the student from the program.

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8. Dissertation APA Format Clearance

When the candidate has obtained the approvals and signatures of the committee members, all doctoral candidates must submit their dissertations to the Dissertation Support Office for APA format review. A clearance by the Dissertation Office is required to ensure that Pepperdine University format requirements and APA style guidelines have been maintained.

Submission of Dissertation Manuscript

After notifying your Program Administrator, submit the following to the Manager of Writing Support:

Once the Manager of Writing Support has confirmed that all necessary forms and the dissertation versions are received, the student will receive an initial contact email outlining the process for APA Format Review. If any format changes are necessary after an initial review, the Dissertation Office will return the edited dissertation to the student so that the student can make revisions and resubmit an updated version. APA clearance will be given once all requested changes have been implemented.

The suggested submission deadline is six (6) weeks prior to the end of the term in which the degree is posted. Manuscripts will be accepted after this deadline for review; however the Dissertation Office may not be able to complete all the necessary arrangements in time for the degree posting that term.

Once the manuscript has been cleared for APA review, the cleared dissertation and clearance letter outlining the steps for final document submission will be emailed to the student.

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9. Continuous Enrollment Status

Dissertation students who have successfully completed their final oral defense and who have submitted all the necessary forms and dissertation manuscript for APA review by the drop/add deadline are placed in PSY 801 Dissertation Completion and are required to pay a fee of $100.

Students are eligible to enroll in PSY 801 for up to two consecutive terms. If the dissertation has not been cleared by APA and/or the dissertation submission to ProQuest has not been completed within two terms, the student will be re-enrolled in the appropriate PSY dissertation research course, or granted an extension.

Enrollment in the PSY 801 constitutes part-time students status (unless concurrently enrolled in PSY 780 Doctoral Internship), which will impact financial aid eligibility and loan deferment.

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10. Final Document Submission 

The following must be completed and submitted to the Dissertation Support Office in order for the student's degree to be posted. Also, all required paperwork, including the Final Internship Evaluation, must be in the student's clinical training file.

The dissertation must be uploaded for publishing and archiving using ProQuest ETD Administrator for Pepperdine GSEP. This will be the final PDF version of the dissertation that will be published, unless otherwise noted by the ETD Administrator.

Dissertation Submission

  1. ProQuest UMI/ETD Submission:

    Electronically submit your cleared dissertation to ProQuest ETD Administrator

    • Create a new user account to upload the final PDF version of the dissertation to UMI/ETD.
    • Select Open Access publishing (minimum requirement) and complete the agreement.
    • Personal bound dissertation copies and copies for the chairperson/committee members can be ordered through the UMI/ETD submission.
    • All fees are paid by credit card at the time of initial submission.
  2. Graduation Application: The Graduation Application is submitted to the Psy.D. Program Administrator after completion of predoctoral internship.

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11. Degree Posting

Once the Dissertation Support Office has received all the necessary items for the degree posting and the students has completed their predoctoral internship, the Office of Student Information and Services can indicate on the students' record that all degree requirements have been satisfied and the degree can be posted. Students' degrees are posted in the term in which this notification occurs, not necessarily in the term in which they have successfully completed their Final Oral Defense. Degrees will be posted at the following degree posting dates:

  • Fall - Mid-October and the last day of the term
  • Spring - the last day of the term
  • Summer - the last day of summer session 1 or summer session 2

Degree completion and ability to use the credential of "Psy.D." occurs when degree requirements have been met. "Graduation" is defined as the date the doctoral degree is posted, not the date of the graduation ceremony itself which generally occurs only once a year in the Spring. To participate in the graduation ceremony, the candidates must have had their Final Oral Defense and passed with or without modifications at least one week prior to the ceremony and completed 1100 hours of internship.

 
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