Resources for Current Students

Ph.D. Concentration in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Frequently Asked Advising Questions

Below are questions that frequently arise around administrative details in your degree matriculation. Please note that these questions aren’t about the culture of the concentration (e.g., research, research, research!) and should be considered as an accompaniment to the Industrial and Organizational Psychology (I/O) Policies, Rules & Guidelines, the Department Student Policies and Rules, and information found in the Graduate Catalog.

When should I pick a major advisor?

You all have the same major advisor (the concentration head) when you arrive your first fall semester. We encourage you to “shop around” with faculty until both you and the faculty member have agreed that you will have a mutually agreeable working arrangement. What are some of the questions that might help both of you determine this working arrangement? How about:

  • Are you taking on additional students at this time?
  • I’m interested in ____. What do you think about this topic?
  • Can you tell me about your advising style?

We anticipate that such conversations will be resolved before the end of the first fall semester.

Once you’ve determined your major advisor, what next?

  • Make it official: you need to file a Change of Advisor form through the graduate school. Make sure that it’s changed for both your master’s and your Ph.D.
  • Be compulsive: it’s a good idea to check that your major advisor has changed. It’s not official until the name is changed in PeopleSoft/Student Admin.

I’d like to make progress on my master’s thesis. Are there any tips for this?

  • Form an advisory committee. The way that you do this is to file a Plan of Study for your master’s degree. On the form, you will need to identify your major advisor, as well as two associate advisors. The I/O concentration requires that one of these associate advisors be within I/O; the other, however, need not be. (Your major advisor for your master’s degree needs to be an I/O faculty member.)
  • Tips on the Plan of Study: “Which Course should I take when?”:
    • Put the minimum required credits on your master’s Plan of Study. (It’s no longer the case that the first-year stat courses need to be reserved for your Ph.D. Plan of Study.) At minimum, you need:
      • 9 credits of thesis hours, which can be spread over many semesters
      • 15 credits of coursework
    • We’d recommend that you put down everything from your first year (Core, stat, BB and research teams) and second year (Core, BB, and research teams), but leave all four I/O-required specialization seminars and three Department-required breadth seminars for the Ph.D. Plan of Study.
    • File this as soon as you’ve formed this committee. Don’t wait until you’ve defended your master’s thesis!
      • Note that BB and research teams hours do not have to be on your MA Plan of Study.
      • Keep in mind that this is a plan. It can be changed, but it is easiest to just put down the minimum suggested above in your first two years.
    • Unlike the dissertation, the graduate school does not require students to defend (or even write) a master’s thesis proposal. Individual faculty, however, might differ on their expectations of this process.
    • Once you’ve managed to settle on a thesis defense date, let the department know so that we can share an announcement.
    • At your master’s thesis defense, make sure you bring paperwork and copies of the signature page for your committee.

What’s next, after my MA degree is awarded?

  • Form a Ph.D. Advisory Committee. These can, but do not have to, include the same people as your master’s committee. What’s most important is that everyone is on the same page on whether they are continuing.
    • Keep in mind that committee membership can be changed fairy easily. Faculty availability or your research interests might change.
    • The chair of your dissertation does not have to be an I/O faculty member, but the division does require that you have at least one I/O faculty member on your committee.
    • Note that sometimes students will want to have more than two associate advisors, given expertise, etc.
  • Think about preparing for the General Exam. It is now standardized for the fall semester, which might require some pre‐planning.
    • The timing of this might vary from person to person, but the primary consideration is that you should be finished with the bulk of your core/specialization courses (not necessarily your breadth courses) before taking this on.
    • At your Oral Defense, make sure you bring paperwork.
  • Details on the requirements for the dissertation are better discussed on the Graduate School website as these requirements are standard across the entire university (which is not the case for the master’s degree).  Additionally, the department has a step-by-step guide for the dissertation. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind, however:
    • There is a university minimum of 15 dissertation research hours needed for your Ph.D.  Note that the MA and Ph.D. are different Plans of Study; you can enroll in dissertation research hours as soon as you’ve met the 9 credit hours for your MA.
    • You must defend your dissertation proposal. Two outside readers are needed from the Graduate School to indicate that the project is reasonable.  However, they do not have to attend the proposal defense and they do not have to be the same people as the examiners at the final defense.  “Outside readers” can be any faculty member outside the committee – or otherwise qualified Ph.D.-level individual, although people who are not on the UConn faculty will need to be approved by the Graduate School.
    • Dissertations require a public, oral defense.  The two outside examiners do have to attend the oral defense.  Again, these “outside examiners” are “outside” the committee; although readers often serve as examiners, this does not have to be the case.