The Graduate Program (the abridged version)
Note: the official version of this information is available here online
In comparison to other schools and programs, Carnegie Mellon is light on official requirements. Like we said, it's kind of informal around here. A notable example is the lack of any qualifying exam (even though one is mentioned in the Official Defense Requirements. I am told this is an error and will be removed. Since the complete description is available online (and you will get a copy when you get here), I'm not going to bother to give all the details. This is just the important stuff.
- The Psychology Core Courses
Take heart, it's one semester for Cognitive/Cog-Neuro and one semester for Developmental/Social. New for 2000, these courses will be taught in alternate years in the Fall semester. Fall 2000 will be the Cog/Cog-Neuro core, and Fall 2001 will be Developmental/Social.
Sorry to say, these courses don't have the best reputation among the graduate students. Hopefully, this new arrangement will result in better courses for those of you who haven't started yet.
- Other Coursework
- Research Methods I
- This is really a course on giving presentations. You should be taking this during the Spring semester of your first year, to help you prepare your first brown-bag talk (see below).
- Research Methods II
- This is really a research methods course. This course is taken during the Fall semester of your first or second year (alternates with statistics).
- Brown-Bag Talks
- These are given at the end of your first and second years, and are based on the research you are doing. Besides giving you experience with presentations (and perhaps some tough questions), these talks are good at keeping you on track and focussed on what you need to be doing. April comes whether you are on the ball with your research or not. Sign-ups are earlier in the semester. First come, first served.
- The second-year ("publishable-quality") paper
- Provides a summary (of sorts) of the research you've done so far. It's also intended to demonstrate that you are capable of producing something that others might be interested in. If you want to fill out the paperwork and pay the fee, you can turn this into a Master's Thesis.
- Review Paper
- Done after the second-year paper, on some topic of interest approved of by your committee. This stands in, in some sense, for qualifying exams.
- The TA Thing
- It is required that graduate students TA for at least 3 courses while here, probably during the second and third years. If you are ambitious, you may be able to teach your own course.
- Dissertation Proposal
- Dissertation Defense
Other Important things to do and know
- Advisors and Committees
- Cognitive, Cog-Neuro, and Developmental: You should know before you get here. If you have been accepted and you don't know, call and find out now.
- Social: You begin advisor-less. You should try to figure out with whom you want to work by the middle of your first semester.
- Course Load
- 45 Units per semester (Fall and Spring)
- Roughly translated, 3 units = 1 credit.
- Typically, the number of credits taken in actual courses will dwindle as you continue through the program. By your fourth year, all of your credits will likely be "dissertation research".
- In addition to the required courses, you will probably take some seminars related to your area of interest.
- CNBC folks have some different requirements
- Choosing Courses
- The first two years will be partially determined for you by the department requirements. For the rest, it's probably best to talk to your advisor about which courses are best given your research interests and goals. It may also be a good idea to talk to other grad students about course possibilities. Don't be afraid to look outside the department (or at UPitt) for courses of interest. Once again, it's pretty informal.