Department of Psychology

Guidelines for Preparing Plans of Study


Note: These instructions are for students in the Psychology Department's Clinical, I/O and CaBS programs. Students in the ABA MS program and the I/O non-thesis MS program need not prepare a Plan of Study as it is generated automatically by the department.

Plan of Study Worksheet Instructions

When to Submit Plan of Study Worksheet:

  • Students who have not been officially exempted from the MS Thesis requirement should file a Master's Plan of Study no later than the end of their third semester in the program.
  • Students who have been exempted from the MS requirement must submit a Doctoral Plan of Study by the end of their fourth semester in the program. (Students seeking exemption from the MS requirements must submit an Exemption from Departmental Requirement form, signed by your major professor, program director, and the department chair, authorizing your exemption from the MS thesis requirement before filing the doctoral plan of study).
  • Students who have completed and defended the MS thesis in our program should submit a Doctoral Plan of Study by the beginning of the semester following the semester in which they defended the thesis and before initiating the General Doctoral Exam process.

To begin the Plan of Study process ask Thane Bryant to send you a link to the Plan of Study Worksheet for your program and cohort OR find the link at the end of these instructions. It will guide you through the process of deciding what should be on your Plan of Study. If your program has revised their requirements since your cohort started and you would like to proceed under the revised requirements, let Thane know which cohort's requirements you intend to follow and he will make sure you get the correct worksheet.  


1. Assemble an MS Thesis Committee or Doctoral Committee and identify the committee members on the Plan of Study worksheet.

The student's advisory committee approves the plan of study and is responsible for conducting examinations and supervising thesis and dissertation research. The chair of the advisory committee is referred to as the "major professor."

The MS advisory committee must consist of at least three faculty members. The committee chair must be a member of the Graduate Faculty and a member (not adjunct) of the department of psychology faculty.

The Ph.D. advisory committee must have four members. The chair must be a member (not adjunct) of the Department of Psychology faculty, and at least three members, including the chair, must be members of the Graduate Faculty authorized to direct doctoral students. Two of the members must be faculty members within the student's program area. One member must be a faculty member who is not a member of the student's program area. The committee chair need not be a faculty member within the student's program area. The outside reader (a.k.a. "University Reader" or "Graduate School Representative") is not a member of the committee and typically is not chosen until a few weeks before the anticipated dissertation defense.

The student need not retain the same major professor or committee for the MS and Ph.D. degrees. All advisory committee appointments are subject to approval of the Department Chair and the Dean of the Graduate School through Plan of Study approval. Changes in committee membership and committee chairs must be approved via a "Revision of Existing Plan of Study" form processed through Thane Bryant.

2. Review the courses you are required to take for your degree (as indicated on the Plan of Study Worksheet) and enter the data requested on the worksheet for each such course.

MS Plan of Study: Select PSYC 7990 Research and Thesis (4 hours) plus 26 semester hours of courses from the sheet in consultation with your master’s committee and program director.

Doctoral Plan of Study: Select coursework to fulfill ALL of the requirements on the sheet in consultation with your PhD advisory committee and program director. If you previously gave Thane an MS Plan of Study worksheet, let him know when you are ready to do your Doctoral Plan of Study. He will give you a copy of your MS Plan of Study Worksheet, which you can then revise with updated and additional course information as needed. 

For each course you intend to take to fulfill a requirement: if the course is already on your AU transcript (i.e., you have already registered for it and completed it) or you are currently registered for it, indicate the semester and year for which you were registered for it (e.g., "Summer 2017") in the "Semester and Year Taken" column. If you have not yet registered for the course but intend to take it in the future, enter "P" (for "Planned") in the "Semester and Year Taken" column.

You may indicate the courses you intend to take by either printing out the sheet and writing the information in the appropriate fields or you you may key the information into the appropriate fields on the sheet while it is on your screen and then save it to your computer or print it out. 

Exemptions:  If you have been officially exempted from any required course, enter in the “Substitute Courses” columns next to each such course the information about the course upon which the exemption was based.  Before the plan of study is approved you must submit an Exemption from Departmental Requirement form, signed by your major professor, your program director, and the faculty member who normally teaches the course, authorizing your exemption from each such course. These exemptions are usually taken care of during your first semester in the program.

3. Turn the Plan of Study worksheet in to Thane by e-mail or by putting the paper worksheet in his departmental mailbox - he will prepare your Plan of Study form and he will document approvals by the Major Professor, Program Director and Department Head, save a file copy and deliver the document to the Graduate School with a cc to you.

Anxiety Check: What you put on the Plan of Study is not set in stone. If your committee membership is not rock solid, don't worry - we will be able to make changes in the plan of study on your behalf later on (with your committee's and the department chair's approval) using a Revision of Existing Plan of Study process. Similarly, if you are faced with a menu of options and can't decide which one you want, just pick one for the time being and put it on the plan of study. If you decide later that you want to take the other one instead, you can change it (with your committee's and the department chair's approval) using the revision process.

Also important: Students completing the MS plan of study should keep in mind that you are in a doctoral program. Your course selection and planning should be geared to meeting the Ph.D. requirements, not just the MS requirements. You should become familiar with your program's Ph.D. requirements and work with your major professor each semester to develop a schedule that helps you progress toward their fulfillment.

Plan of Study Worksheets for students in doctoral programs - use the same sheet for your MS Plan of Study and your PhD Plan of Study:

CaBS Plan of Study Worksheet for Students Admitted 2015, 2016, 2017

Clinical Psychology Plan of Study Worksheet for Students Admitted 2016 and 2017

I-O Psychology Plan of Study Worksheet for Students Admitted Fall 2017

Last Updated: December 07, 2017