Guidelines and Regulations for Graduate Study in the Department of Psychology

This document brings together most of the information that we believe will be helpful to new graduate students and those already enrolled in programs within the Department of Psychology. Three main types of information are included: description of resources available in the Department or the University; guidelines that we hope will give you a greater understanding of how graduate education proceeds and a context within which to make effective decisions about your graduate work; and regulations which, in addition to those specified by the University or the School of Graduate Studies determine what you must do in order to complete your degree. The regulations and guidelines in this document are in addition to those specified in the calendar of the School of Graduate Studies and Research with which you should also be familiar.


Our aim of graduate education is to enable you to prepare yourself to become a mature and independent professional. We expect you will take an active role in finding out what requirements you must meet in order to complete your program successfully. The factors affecting university education in general, and graduate education in particular, are constantly changing. Thus, although the information here is as accurate as we can make it at the time, regulations, the availability of funds and the structure of programs, may have changed. You are responsible for checking whether any factors that affect your progress have changed and for bringing any difficulties that these changes create for you to the attention of the responsible people in the Department. Up to date information can always be obtained from the Chair of your particular program area, the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Studies Assistant or the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

Graduate School can often be a stressful as well as a stimulating experience. The faculty, staff and the Association of Graduate Students in Psychology (AGSIP) are all able to offer help to alleviate some of the stresses of student life. In addition, the University offers many other sources of support including, but not limited to, a Human Rights and Special Needs office. The Society for Graduate and Professional Students is an organization that represents and advocates for graduate students at Queen's. As a Department we are aware that each of you brings with you a unique set of circumstances and abilities. It is important that you keep us informed of factors that may affect your progress. Although the Department has a responsibility to treat all students as fairly as possible under the regulations, we recognize that individual circumstance can affect your progress. We can only take these in to account if we are informed of them through your supervisor, one of the Academic Officers responsible for the Graduate Program or the Head of Department. If you are ever in doubt as to what you ought to be doing with the program ask someone in authority within the Department – your supervisor, your area Chair, the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Studies Assistant or some other suitable person – do not rely on hearsay and rumour. If you are in doubt as to what to do AGSIP may be able to help you make the appropriate contacts. Good luck with your studies.

The Profession of Psychology


Psychology is a particularly diverse profession encompassing research, teaching and applied work. While the two former activities are relevant mainly, but by no means exclusively to universities, applied psychologists work in a wide variety of settings including: industry, management, the school systems, private practice, penitentiaries, and hospitals. Like members of all professions, the conduct of psychologists whether they are engaged in practice, teaching or research, is regulated by principles, standards and by statute. In Ontario persons who call themselves a psychologist must meet at least, one of three criteria: they must be a university professor, be employed in a psychologist's position by the federal penitentiary service, or must be registered. Anyone else who represents themselves as a psychologist is liable to prosecution. The statutory body responsible for registering psychologists in Ontario is the College of Psychologists. The College not only examines candidates for registration but also sets standards of professional practice and disciplines psychologists guilty of professional misconduct.

Ethical Responsibilities of Psychologists

All psychologists and those training to become psychologists, no matter what activities they are engaged in, are required to act in a professional and ethical manner. Guides to appropriate behaviour are issued from time to time by the Canadian Psychological Association, the Ontario Psychological Association and the Ontario College of Psychologists. It is the responsibility of all students to make themselves familiar with these standards and to abide by them. Failure to do so may constitute grounds for dismissal from the program and may also make the student liable to prosecution.

Statement of Values

The Department of Psychology endorses the essential values, as articulated in the “Report on Principles and Priorities"

“The Faculties recognize that Queen's distinctive strength rests in its ability to recruit from among the academically most qualified students in the country. To protect this strength we must maintain the quality of the broader learning environment: the unique combination of, and synergy created by, teaching, research, and scholarship which fulfill the distinctive mission of the University.”

The university must stand for better understanding and critical evaluation of ethical values, and it should help foster a stronger personal commitment to those values that will guide its members in their future life. While Queen's must be open to this critical exploration of values – and in this sense not take an official position on social, economic and political policies – there are certain key values that an institution of higher learning must affirm and protect. They include:

  • academic integrity. Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (as articulated by the Centre for Academic Integrity, Duke University; see all of which are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive.

  • intellectual integrity. Rigorous standards of intellectual integrity must be upheld in all teaching, learning, and research activities.

  • freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas. The University commits itself to remain open to free inquiry and the free expression of ideas, both of which are basic to the University's central purpose. Any restrictions proposed on free expression must be openly stated and subjected to careful public scrutiny and evaluation.

  • equal dignity of all persons. Queen's cherishes the diversity of human experience and background, and supports the freedom of individuals to study, teach, work and carry out research without fear of harassment, intimidation or discrimination. The Department of Psychology wishes to elaborate on the value of equal dignity of persons as follows: The value of equal dignity implies that all members of the university, that is, faculty, staff and students, deserve to be treated in a dignified, respectful and civil manner. Such treatment extends to the classroom, laboratory and workplace. Behaviour or remarks that are insulting, offensive or demeaning violate the dignity of others, and therefore, have no place in the university.

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

This program is available to students who work as teaching assistants at Queen's, it is a voluntary confidential counseling and information service for all Queen's University employees and their families. Please see EFAP.

Graduate Programs

Applicants are accepted under the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The Department requires applicants to have written the Graduate Record Examination. Four programs are offered: Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science Clinical Developmental Social-Personality The requirements differ among the four programs, students are expected to contact their program chairperson if they have questions about their particular requirements. The program requirements are available in the Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

Structure of the Department

The Administrative Portfolios section of our website details the organization in the Department (duties of all administrative officers, staff, policies and procedures).

The Departmental Committee

Academic and administrative authority in the Department of Psychology derives from the Head of the Department who is responsible to the Dean and the Principal. The Head is assisted in this by Academic Administrative Officers who are appointed, usually for terms of three years, from the academic faculty. In most cases the Academic Administrative Officer chairs a committee which advises on the formulation of policy and assists the Officer in making administrative decisions within the declared policies. Policies approved in any of the committees are usually submitted to the Departmental Committee for approval at which time they become the official policy of the Department.

Graduate students are represented on all committees of the Department which deal with policies and procedures which affect them. These appointments are made through the Association of Graduate Students in Psychology (AGSIP).  Student representatives are, however, excluded from discussions in which confidential information regarding individual students is discussed.

Admission and Registration

General Information

Pre-registration and registration is done online via Queen's Computerized Access and Registration Database (Solus) Incoming students (i.e., beginning a new degree program) begin pre-registration in July. Ongoing students begin pre-registration in April. The first step is pre-registration, the second and final step is validation of student card which takes place around the end of August. While registration in one's thesis course (PSYC-899/999) is ongoing, new courses are entered electronically through the Graduate Office in the Department from mid-July to mid-August. Clinical program students must remember that practicum (PSYC-838/839/989/990/991/992) and the Clinical Internship (PSYC-993) are coursework and must also be added. Graduate students cannot add courses via QCARD. After September 30th courses must be added on an Academic Change form.

Transfer From One Graduate Program To Another

General Premise. Students are accepted into one of the following programs, the Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science Program, the Clinical Program, the Developmental Program, or the Social-Personality Program, on the basis of qualifications and stated interest. The presumption is that once accepted into a program, a student stays there. Transfer to one of the other programs is approved only in special circumstances.

Procedure. Students intending to transfer from one program to the other must apply in writing to the Chair of the program into which they wish to transfer. The application should state the special circumstances that, in the student‟s opinion, merit the transfer. The application must also be endorsed, in writing, by the student's supervisor.

Decision. The decision on a request for transfer is made by the Chair of the intended program, after appropriate consultation, which should include the Chair of the other program, the Coodinator of Graduate Studies (particularly regarding financial support) and the Coordinator of Clinical Practica (if appropriate). It may also include referring the request to the respective program committee for advice or decision.

Follow-Up. The Chair of the intended program informs the student, in writing, of the decision. Copies of the decision are forwarded to the Chair of the other program, the Coordinator of Graduate Studies, the Coordinator of Clinical Practica (if appropriate), and the Department Head.

Application to Doctoral Program

Often, students admitted to the Master's degree program in Psychology at Queen's will stay for the Ph.D., but there is a requirement to formally apply. Therefore, students in the 2nd year of their Master's must submit an electronic application and 2 academic letters of reference along with the application fee (currently $85.00). Clinical applicants must submit 2 clinical references (in addition to the academic references). Applications submitted by mid-February will ensure they are in time for the internal fellowship competition. Copies of transcripts and GRE score reports are not required at this stage (final transcripts will be required upon actual registration).

Financial Support

The rules laid down in the following paragraphs are most important. In addition, of course, each student must observe any additional regulations that may be laid down by other sources of support such as the restrictions on employment imposed by the terms of specific fellowships.

Lest all this seem too formidable and restrictive, especially to new students, it should be pointed out that we are supported by public funds, so that it is not unreasonable for the Provincial Government and the University to expect them to be disbursed fairly and used efficiently.

Regulations Regarding Financial Support

A full-time student is expected to engage in his/her studies on a full-time basis. It is expected that a full-time student will limit paid employment unrelated to the student's research to a total of ten hours per week (average); students wishing to exceed this level should consult their supervisor and graduate coordinator. A student who fails to meet program requirements or who fails to maintain progress consistent with full-time status may be required to withdraw from their program. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to register as a full-time student while maintaining full-time employment (more than 30 hours a week) elsewhere. Full-time students employed as teaching assistants are limited to a maximum of ten hours a week (average) in this capacity.

Each student is responsible for ensuring that their status as a full- or part-time student correctly reflects their employment situation and that the Department is fully informed of this. The University is audited each year by the Provincial Government to check on the accuracy of this information.

Queen's University provides a minimum funding guarantee currently valued at $18,000 per year, for eligible doctoral students in years 1-4. The Department guarantees Master's students $18,000/year for each of years 1 and 2. In both cases the guaranteed funding will include work as a teaching assistant for a minimum of 8 hours/week for 26 weeks. The remaining portion of the guarantee can consist of University Fellowships, Queen's Graduate Awards, and supervisor‟s research grants. Students who are successful in earning external funding are still eligible for a teaching assistantship. Our policy in the Department is that students are required to apply for all external fellowships for which they are eligible.



More information and current details of the amounts, application dates, and application procedures for the following awards may be obtained from the Departmental Graduate Office. While the Graduate Office will do its best to make sure you are aware of deadlines, etc. for making application it is your responsibility to make sure your complete application is submitted in time for these competitions. The three major federal agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) have strict guidelines (Tri-council Guidelines) surrounding the areas they will consider for funding and it is very important that you make sure you are applying to the appropriate federal agency for funding. If after consulting the tri-council guidelines you are still unsure which agency is most applicable you can submit your proposal to any one of the agencies for feedback but you must do this well in advance of application deadlines.

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS)

Internal University

Queen’s Graduate Fellowships

The University has a relatively large number of Fellowships to award each year. They include the R.S. McLaughlins, Franklin and Helene Bracken Fellowships, Ontario Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology, etc. There is no formal application required for these fellowships. However the department does require a Fellowship/Awards form (PDF, 11 KB) to be filled out to help determine eligibility. Notification for completing the form will be sent by the Graduate Office in early March. The Department prepares the nomination packages and forwards them to the University Fellowship Committee.

Queen's Graduate Awards – No formal application required.

Details on these and other Scholarships and Awards from the School of Graduate Studies

Queen's Student Awards can help you obtain need-based financial assistance in the way of bursaries, awards or work programs.

Departmental Prizes and Awards

The Department of Psychology is fortunate to have a number of prizes/awards/scholarships that are normally awarded yearly to qualified students, no application is necessary. Currently, they are as follows:

Violet Head Scholarship
Established from the estate of Dr.Violet Beryl Head. Awarded on the basis of merit and need to the female Ontario resident completing the Clinical M.Sc. program with the highest standing who is proceeding to a doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Queen's or another well recognised university in North America, Great Britain or Continental Europe. The student must not receive any other award of higher value. A committee appointed by the Head of the Department makes the selection each spring. The scholarship may be renewed, normally up to a maximum of twice, provided that satisfactory standing has been maintained. Value: $17,700

Dr. Brian Shelton Graduate Fellowship
Established by Mrs. Shelton in memory of Brian R. Shelton, a graduate of the Department of Psychology at Queen's University. To provide annual support to a deserving graduate student entering the Ph.D. program in Human Experimental Psychology or Psychophysics in the Department of Psychology at Queen‟s University. The Fellowship may be renewable each year for three years with a possible extension for a fourth year. (Value: variable)

Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)
Professional Student Research Award Voucher. Offered to a graduate student in the Clinical Programme finishing their first year in the Clinical Program. The purpose is to enable health professional students to gain exposure to health research at any time during the year, however, awards are generally held for the maximum term of three months and must be held for a minimum of one month. (Value: $4,048)

The Andrew McGhie Prize
Established by family, colleagues, students, and friends in memory of Andrew McGhie, Professor of Psychology at Queen's from 1968 to 1988 and Head of Department from 1981 to 1988. Awarded to the student graduating from the Department of Psychology who is judged to have submitted the most outstanding doctoral thesis in the previous twelve months. The judgement is made each spring, the names of all winners are engraved on a plaque which is retained in the Department. (Value: variable)

The A.Z. Arthur Book Prize
Established by family, colleagues, students, and friends in memory of Arthur Z. Arthur, Professor of Psychology at Queen's from 1966 to 1990. A book prize to be awarded to the student who has the highest standing in the M.Sc. Clinical Program. The selection is made each August by a committee appointed by the Head of the Department of Psychology.

The James Inglis Prize
Established by family, colleagues, students and friends in memory of James Inglis, Professor of Psychology at Queen‟s from 1959 to 1965 and from 1968 to 1992 and one of the founders of the Clinical Program. A book prize to be awarded to the graduating doctoral student who has the highest standing in the Clinical Program. The Selection is made each August by a committee appointed by the Head of the Department of Psychology. (Value: variable)

Program of Certificates of Academic Excellence
Established by the Canadian Psychological Association to recognize the outstanding achievements of students. The Department of Psychology is invited to nominate up to nine students who have produced the three best Honours theses, the three best Master‟s theses and the three best doctoral theses. The selection is made by June 15th each year.

T.A. Prize in Psychology
Prize for the best T.A. in a Psychology course. Nominations are called for in mid-March and a determination is made by a small sub-committee of the graduate committee. (Value: $400)

Council of Canadian Departments of Psychology (CCDP) TA Prize
Intended to recognize excellence in teaching on the part of Teaching Assistants. All nominees will receive a certificate from CCDP documenting the award. Nominations submitted by mid April. The names of award winners are posted annually on the CCDP website. A call for nominations is sent to all undergraduate students in mid-March.

Teaching Assistantships

The primary purpose of funds for teaching assistantships is for the support of undergraduate teaching. While the priority system below is generally followed, academic requirements of the courses for which teaching assistantships exist will, if necessary, take precedence over this priority system.

First Priority – Incoming students
Second Priority – Continuing students in MSc2 or PhD 1,2,3, or 4 without major external awards (may have QGF or QGA)
Third Priority – Continuing students in MSc2 or PhD1, 2, 3, or 4 who hold major awards
Fourth Priority – Continuing students in PhD5 and above or MSc3
Fifth Priority – Students admitted with a statement indicating that no departmental funding could be counted upon.

For summer positions, those who have not had a prior summer position or an “extra” position will take precedence over those who have.

Regulations Regarding Teaching Assistantships

T.A. positions form part of the guaranteed minimum funding package for full-time students in the Department. A graduate student may decline the offer of a teaching assistantship, in which case their funding package will be reduced accordingly. Unsatisfactory performance can result in termination of the assistantship and pay. If an instructor believes that a student is not carrying out his or her duties in a satisfactory way, he or she will inform the student and the Coordinator of Graduate Studies; the student will then be placed on probationary term. If performance continues to be unsatisfactory employment as an assistant will be terminated. In such cases the Coordinator of Graduate Studies will consult with the Head of the Department in order to decide whether the Department would be prepared to offer further financial assistance of any kind, including support in subsequent years.

Procedures for Teaching Assistants

Applications for Teaching Assistantship will be circulated among students at appropriate times and are to be submitted to the Graduate Office. Each year, the Department of Psychology offers graduate students the opportunity of serving as Teaching Assistants (TA). The reasons for this include: It enables the Department to fulfill an important teaching function; Students are provided with the opportunity of gaining valuable teaching experience; and Teaching assistantships provide graduate students with a source of funding. Because of the importance attached to this function, it is appropriate that we make as explicit as possible what is expected of a teaching assistant before he or she takes on this position. Most importantly, to be able to discharge their duties appropriately, teaching assistants must be knowledgeable in the area to which they are assigned.

One of the most frequent functions required of a teaching assistant is the grading of examinations and essays. Teaching assistants should be aware that there are facilities on campus, such as the Writing Centre that provide very useful guidance; and are encouraged to make full use of the facilities themselves, and to encourage undergraduate students to do so as well.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning

The Centre for Teaching and Learning provides support to Teaching Fellows/Teaching Assistants through workshops, individual consultations, and advocacy. They also organize and run a Professional Development Day for Teaching Assistants each September.

Teaching Assistants form part of the teaching team. As such, they should meet with the instructor prior to the commencement of the course in order to set goals. In any such discussions, it should be noted that student are formally required to spend between 8 and 10 hours per week working as a teaching assistant. To clarify their roles, it is suggested that the exact requirements placed on the teaching assistant (e.g., number of papers or tests to be graded, showing movies, photocopying, proctoring of tests or examinations), timing of these assignments and tasks, deadlines for feedback and the amount of feedback required should be discussed, decided and entered in the Teaching Assistant Agreement Form and submitted to the General Office in the Department.

Teaching assistants are normally required to be full-time on campus during the terms they serve as teaching assistants. If students are going to be away for any reason, they are obligated to notify the instructor and the undergraduate office. Students must expect to be asked to assist with final examinations. This could involve proctoring and/or some marking. As such, they must be on campus during the examination period. However, ensuring the accuracy of the final grade entered on the transcript remains the responsibility of the instructor. The Department believes quality of performance as a teaching assistant to be of considerable importance. For this reason, the Department has instituted an annual award for the best teaching assistant. Each year, a determination will be made as to the best teaching assistant, and he or she will receive an award of $400.00 that can be used to advance his or her academic career (e.g., conference attendance, journal subscription). In addition just as an evaluation is placed on each academic‟s file each year, an evaluation by the course instructor (and summary of the students evaluation, where applicable) may be placed in the student's file.

Policy on Marking Final Exams

The following procedures apply regarding final examinations in the Department of Psychology: 1. In large lecture courses, where examination must be standardized across sections, final examinations consisting entirely of multiple choice questions may be necessary. For multiple choice examinations, matching marking, or marking by teaching assistants is permissible, but course instructors are responsible for preparing the marking key and for assigning the final marks. 2. In large intramural courses with a single section, final examinations may consist partly of multiple choice and short answer questions. Some essay questions(s) are highly recommended. Marking the multiple choice and the short answer questions can be performed by teaching assistants, but instructors are required to provide appropriate marking keys and to supervise the marking. Instructors are expected to mark a reasonable proportion of those questions that require comprehensive and integrative answers, on each student paper. 3. In upper-year courses with smaller enrollments, examinations should take the form of essay questions, take-home examinations or term papers. Instructors are responsible for all the marking in these courses.

Research Assistantships

Some graduate students are paid from research grants held by members of faculty. Amounts vary, depending on the qualifications and level of training of students and the availability of research funds.

Travel Support for Graduate Students

School of Graduate Studies:

Full-time graduate students are eligible to apply for the student conference travel award of up to $300 each fiscal year (May 1 – April 30). The student must be registered in a degree program at the time of the conference. Awards may be used to provide partial support for travel, accommodation, food, and registration fee associated with a recognized conference at which the student is presenting an authored or co-authored paper or a poster. Applications must be submitted and approved prior to any expenses being incurred. Contact the department to apply.

Comprehensive Examinations


The examination content: The aim of the examination is to ensure the student has a broad knowledge and critical understanding of the major trends and controversies in the field. In general terms the examination asks broad integrative questions designed to assess the student's understanding of the major trends in the primary literature. Previous examinations are kept on file in the graduate office and are available to students preparing for the examination. Students in the graduate program are required to pass a Comprehensive Exam in their Program area during their Doctoral registration. The timing and details of format, etc. are the responsibility of the Area Chairperson. There are a variety of formats, e.g., in-class, take-home, review paper. Students who wish to appeal the composition of the examining committee may appeal to the Graduate Committee. Appeals should be made at least 8 weeks prior to the examination. See Appeal and Grievance Procedures if a student wishes to appeal a decision of a comprehensive examination committee.

Faculty Responsibility

  1. The responsibility for setting, scheduling, conducting and marking Doctoral Comprehensive Examinations shall devolve on Chairs of relevant areas and their committees. Area Chairs are responsible for providing the Graduate Office with a file copy of the examination and must retain the written examinations for a period of 12 months.

  2. Area chairs shall submit decisions regarding examination results to the Graduate Coordinator within one month of completion of the examination.

Student Responsibility

Students must indicate their intent to write the Comprehensive Examination in their Annual Report.

Retaking of Examinations

Two re-takes/re-submissions of the comprehensive examinations/review papers are permitted with the first re-take/re-submission normally being attempted at the next scheduled examination date. These must be held within one year of the first attempt.

The Mutual Roles of Graduate Students and Supervisor

This document was created by Rudy Kalin (Head of Department from 1988 to 1998). The document has been updated for this current edition of the Guidelines.

The Department of Psychology endeavours to admit outstanding students into its programs, and to train them in such a way that they leave the University ready to assume academic, research, or service positions in the top institutions of the country and abroad. The Department is committed to use its resources so as to optimize the quality of the work done by faculty and students. In the current climate of financial restraint, limited resources have to be used in a judicious and responsible way. A key responsibility for education towards excellence lies with graduate supervisors. Throughout a student's stay at the University, the supervisor is the student's most significant academic contact. The supervisor advises the student regarding curriculum, plan of study, research opportunities, degree requirements and other regulations of the School of Graduate Studies and the Department of Psychology. The supervisor approves (together with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies representing the Head of the Department, and the Registrar of the School of Graduate Studies) the study status and the program of studies for each term during which the student is registered. The supervisor approves research conducted by the student and supervises the thesis research and report. The supervisor monitors the student's progress according to departmental guidelines and those of the School of Graduate Studies, and provides regular feedback. The Annual Progress Report is the Department's mechanism to put the supervisor's feedback on record and to transmit a statement of the student's progress to the Department.

These functions assigned to the supervisor can be summarized by saying that the role of the supervisor has two major components, (1) the authority and associated responsibilities for directing and approving the program of study for a student (subject to further approval by the Department and the School of Graduate Studies), and (2) the authority and associated responsibilities for approving research conducted by students and for supervising the research leading to an advanced degree.

The present document describes the supervisor-student relationship and should be read in conjunction with Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies and the Senate document, University Appointment: Freedom and Responsibility.

Specific Areas of Responsibility:

Assignment of student-supervisor

A match between student and supervisor is made during the admissions process. In the process of reaching an agreement between supervisor and student, the supervisor should explain his or her general expectations to the student. Should the student find it necessary to seek a new supervisor, the current supervisor must be so informed.

Academic counselling and approval of plan of study

Both student and supervisor are expected to be aware of the existence of University and Departmental regulations regarding graduate studies. Taking into account a student's academic background, career goals, and program requirements, the supervisor counsels a student on a suitable program of studies. A program of studies can consist of courses, seminars, laboratories, and research directed by the supervisor or another member of faculty. If a supervisor deems it appropriate to make requirements additional to those specified in the degree program, he or she should inform the student of these requirements at the beginning of the program. After appropriate counseling, the supervisor approves the student's study status and the plan of study that is appropriate for the relevant degree requirements. In approving the program of studies on a registration form, or an academic change form, the supervisor acts as an official of the University. He or she verifies that the information provided by the student is accurate to the best of the supervisor's knowledge and that the program of studies is appropriate for the degree program. Particular attention pertaining to the accuracy of the study status is warranted, as the university is regularly audited in this regard and therefore would be in serious legal difficulty if inaccuracies are detected. Student and supervisors should know that any study status other than full-time requires written application to, and approval from, the Department. The School of Graduate Studies also makes it clear that students registered full-time must be geographically available (i.e., reside in Kingston, or surrounding area) and visit the campus regularly, and that any student who is absent from the university in excess of four weeks during a given term must have the approval of the Department and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Selection of the research topic and preparation of proposal

The student and supervisor should discuss as soon as possible a suitable research topic. Psychology is a discipline which encompasses diverse content areas and methods. The academic judgment of the suitability of a thesis topic rests upon two major criteria: The substantive nature of the question(s) being addressed and the appropriateness of the methods employed. Thus, for example, theses involving empirical or experimental investigations, the analysis of archival data, historical enquiry, computer simulation, or theoretical analysis might all be acceptable if the two criteria were met. The selection of a topic that is satisfactory to the student as well as the supervisor may require a considerable amount of exploration. The student's ideal topic may be too far afield from the supervisor's program of research. If that is the case the student may well have to accommodate to some extent his or her ideal wishes to the supervisor's expertise and general research plans. It may also be the case that the supervisor has ideas that are excessively fixed about a suitable research topic for a given student. In this case the supervisor may be able to show some flexibility. It should be clear, that the supervisor must eventually approve the topic and should do so only when he or she feels competent and confident regarding the topic.

After a research topic has been chosen and approved by the supervisor, the student must prepare a written research proposal under the guidance of the supervisor. The preparation of the proposal will typically involve a review of the existing literature and may well include conducting pilot studies. The appropriate length of the proposal may vary by field of study and by supervisor preference. The proposal should be considered as a planning document that may undergo modification as a result of early experiments or new insights from the literature. Such modification, however, should be approved by the supervisor and the committee. The proposal is not and must not be considered to be a contract that entitles a student to a guaranteed degree. The judgment about the worthiness for a degree is made on the basis of the thesis and its oral defense. A research proposal should contain a succinct statement of the problem to be addressed, a review of the major and relevant literature, a description of the methods to be employed and a proposed analysis of data. The proposal must also contain a feasibility assessment including the specification of the time required to complete the project and the resources necessary (space, equipment, and money). Before a meeting of the thesis committee is called, the supervisor must approve the proposal.

Selection of thesis committee and approval of the proposal

The student and the supervisor should select a thesis committee as soon as possible after a research topic is chosen. Departmental regulations require that the thesis committee has at least two members in addition to the supervisor. Membership on a graduate thesis committee will consist of a minimum of three members and must be explicitly approved by the Department of Psychology Graduate Office. Normally, members on a graduate thesis committee will be full-time Queen's University faculty members (with at least two members from the Department of Psychology). Any exceptions must be justified in writing and be approved by the Graduate Committee. In formulating this committee, all involved persons should be aware of any potential conflicts of interest that may arise from personal or other extra-academic relationships among those involved. After the supervisor has approved the thesis proposal, a meeting of the thesis committee is held in order to examine its scientific merits as well as its feasibility. An important aspect of the committee's role is to approve both the substantive content and the methods proposed. The committee may approve the proposal as presented, or it may require certain revision. Further meetings may also be held. The supervisor on his or her own initiative, or upon request by the student, can call a meeting of the thesis committee at any time during the thesis process. When the committee is satisfied that the proposal has scientific merit and is also feasible, the supervisor will communicate the committee approval in writing to the Graduate Office. The supervisor also monitors that proper ethics clearance for the project is obtained. It is the responsibility of the student to keep the Graduate Office informed about the identity of the supervisor and committee members.

Supervision of research

General guidelines for conducting research under the direction of the supervisor are contained in the Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies. For the purpose of this regulation, hospitals that are part of the Queen‟s Health Sciences complex, local school boards, area penitentiaries are considered “on campus”.The supervisor helps the student obtain the facilities (space, equipment, supplies) required to carry out the research proposed by the student. The supervisor also monitors whether the student proceeds according to accepted principles of scientific method and appropriate procedures that are germane to the problem under investigation.

In recognition of both the importance of academic integrity and recent demonstrations that dishonesty in science is far from unknown, the supervisor has a responsibility to pass on to graduate students explicitly the attitudes and practices necessary to maintain the dignity and integrity of the profession. Supervisors should always know and approve of the methods of data collection used by their students. Supervisors are expected to maintain a “healthy interest” in their students' data and be confident that the data were actually collected in the manner described. Supervisors are expected to be vigilant to obvious signs of inaccuracies resulting from ignorance, carelessness or academic dishonesty and be prepared to investigate suspicious cases, and willing to act, when evidence of carelessness or misconduct exists.

Supervision of thesis preparation

The supervisor directs the preparation of the thesis according to the regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. A thesis should go though editorial revisions until the supervisor finds it acceptable to go to the other members of the thesis committee. Such a level of acceptability is reached when the supervisor deems the thesis nearly ready to go to oral defense. The turnaround for drafts submitted by the student should be as quick as possible; the supervisor should normally strive to return the edited copy to the student within two to three week. The major editorial obligation clearly falls on the supervisor and not on the committee members. These members should be able to expect a relatively polished product so that they can provide substantive criticism. When the thesis is in the form that meets the requirement of the SGS and is approved by the supervisor and the committee, it can be submitted to the Department Head via the Graduate Office with a request to set up an oral exam.

Defence of thesis

The supervisor is responsible for preparing the request for setting up an oral exam. Instructions for doing so are posted on the School of Graduate Studies web site. The supervisor, after consultation with the student makes a recommendation to the Head of Department (through the Graduate Office) regarding the proposed date as well as suitable external and internal/external examiners prior to making an approach or a commitment to such examiners. Departmental guidelines stipulate that external examiners should be “at-arms-length” and have suitable academic credentials, which normally means an appointment in a University or equivalent institution. “At arms-length” in this context means that the examiner should have no stake in the project and be capable of independent judgment regarding the thesis.

The supervisor is expected to prepare the student for the oral exam by going over its format sometime before the actual date. Students should be advised to describe the essence of their work in 10 to 15 minutes in an initial presentation. Many supervisors and their students find it useful to have a mock oral with members of their research group where the candidate gives the prepared presentation and is asked some likely questions.

The supervisor has an important but quiet role to play during the oral exam. He or she looks after the interest of the student. This may occur by asking a passive Chair of the examining committee quietly and politely to establish order if the examiners speak out of turn or start arguing with each other. The supervisor should bear in mind that the oral exam is the place for the student and not the supervisor to defend the thesis. Supervisors who actively answer other examiner's questions might create the impression that they, and not the student, are responsible for the thesis, or that the student is not capable of answering. The use of the pronoun “we” by the supervisor, or the student, when referring to the work by the student could easily create a similar impression. The supervisor normally serves the student best by being quiet until it is his or her turn to ask questions. It is at this time that he or she may be able to coax an answer out of a student who previously may have misunderstood a question. It is perfectly appropriate for the supervisor to draw the best out of a student at this point.

Monitoring of student progress.

The supervisor has the major responsibility of monitoring the progress of a student. Monitoring in this context should not be taken negatively as pointing out poor progress. The time frame for completing various tasks should be a frequent topic of conversation between a supervisor and a student. A supervisor should be as eager to commend a student for being ahead of, or meeting, a given time frame, as he or she is for voicing concern for being behind. A supervisor should, of course, not only be concerned with the rate of progress, but also with the quality of performance. Here, positive or negative feedback, as deserved, should be given to the student frequently. Placing an obligation of monitoring student progress closely on a supervisor does not mean, of course, that the supervisor is responsible for a student's progress, or lack thereof. The responsibility is clearly the student's. But it is a basic responsibility of a supervisor to apprise the student, as well as the Department, of his or her progress. Unlike course work that can be examined through tests, the amount and the quality of the research performed by a student can best be evaluated through close monitoring by the supervisor. The supervisor must provide a fair and accurate evaluation of the student as part of the Annual Progress Report, and at other times when requested.

Guidelines for the Preparation of a Thesis

Several documents should be consulted prior to the preparation of a thesis. See University requirements. The School also provides periodic updates of instructions regarding the format and other guidelines in a set of instructions called "General Forms of Theses”. The Department of Psychology has the additional requirement of following the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) or another format that is generally accepted in the relevant field of specialization. The APA Publication Manual has specific guidelines for preparing theses which are somewhat different from the instructions for creating manuscripts for submission. Those students for whom writing is not second nature may find the short book by Colin Norman The Queen's English, available in bookstores, useful. The Writing Centre at Queen's is a resource for students. Some students have a tendency to write the thesis for a very specialized audience of experts in the narrow topic area of the thesis. Instead, the thesis should be written in such a way as to be comprehensible by an intelligent generalist in psychology. Such an approach requires that basic terms are defined and that sufficient detail about theory, method, and procedure are provided for a generalist to understand. In this context the APA rule discouraging or even prohibiting the use of abbreviations should be followed. The appropriate length of a thesis in Psychology cannot be precisely specified. Theses of extreme length (in either direction) should be avoided, however. A thesis is typically longer than an article submitted to a journal for publication. The review of the literature is longer than in an article, as it places the problem in a somewhat broader context. This serves to make the problem understandable to the generalist, as opposed to the person working in the area. The method section is also somewhat more detailed. It should be written in such a way that a complete and precise replication is possible. This guideline requires that apparatus is described accurately. Paper and pencil tests of the author's design or otherwise unpublished, should be included as appendices, with appropriate scoring keys. Published tests that cannot be included in the thesis because of copyright, can be submitted as a separate for the convenience of the examiners. Student authors can also err in the opposite direction by making their theses too long. Excessive length can come from a review of the literature that is too broad, or too detailed. An appropriate level of breadth and detail has to be found. Theses can also become too long by over-analysis and over-reporting of results. A student should think very carefully before including more than five tables of figures per experiment or investigation in the main body of a thesis. The number of pieces of information in a table or figure should also be limited. The inclusion of long and detailed tables may be quite appropriate in an Appendix.

The generalist reader expects a section headed “Conclusions”. Such a section is not the same as an abstract, nor is it a mere continuation of the discussion, nor a recital of implications or limitations. The conclusions consist of substantive generalizations that the author feels appropriate on the basis of results obtained. Hedges and caveats weaken the conclusions and leave the reader unsatisfied. The conclusions emphasize the “point” of the thesis. Sometimes students are reluctant to state conclusions for fear of stating the obvious. Such concerns should be placed aside because what may sound obvious to the author may not appear so to the reader who may in fact have different views. The author should also be aware that a reader is unlikely to read the thesis exactly in the order presented. It is not uncommon to look at the title first, then examine the references to see what authors are cited, then to read the conclusions, followed by the abstract, etc. To enable various reading sequences, each section should clearly contain what it suggests and should also be relatively self-contained. The appropriate content of each section from title to appendices is very well described in the Publication Manual of APA. As the title is the most frequently read part of a thesis, special care should be taken in its composition. The APA guide that the length of the title of an article be 10 to 12 words should also be followed in the preparation of thesis titles. APA also makes the point that shorter titles are more likely to be cited than longer ones. Initial responsibility for ensuring a thesis is prepared according to the appropriate guidelines rests with the supervisor and the committee. The Department Head will examine a thesis for appropriate format before requesting an oral examination. Revisions may be required before setting an examination date.

Summary of Regulations

Selection of Supervisor

The student/supervisor arrangement is formed at the time of initial registration. Should the student find it necessary to seek a new supervisor, the current supervisor must be so informed. Normally only those faculty members who hold a regular academic appointment in the department of psychology are eligible to be supervisors. If a supervisor is absent from the Department for over a month, and there is no co-supervisor, the supervisor shall designate an acting supervisor who is willing to supervise the student during the absence. The supervisor shall inform the graduate office about the identity of the acting supervisor. Thesis Committee Membership on a graduate thesis committee will consist of a minimum of three members and must be explicitly approved by the Department of Psychology Graduate Office. Normally, members on a graduate thesis committee will be full-time Queen's University faculty members (with at least two members from the Department of Psychology). Any exceptions must be justified in writing and be approved by the Graduate Committee. In formulating this committee, all involved persons should be aware of any potential conflicts of interest that may arise from personal or other extra-academic relationships among those involved.

Thesis Proposal

The student must prepare a written research proposal (PDF, 14 KB). Thesis Proposal Guidelines are under the guidance of the supervisor. After the supervisor has approved the thesis proposal, a meeting of the thesis committee is held in order to examine its scientific merit as well as its feasibility. The supervisor will communicate the committee's approval in writing to the Graduate Office via the Thesis Form (PDF, 23 KB). Responsibilities of the Supervisor are outlined in the "Guide to Graduate Supervision". This handbook is given to all new incoming graduate students and new faculty members (see Appendix). The supervisor must approve the student's study status and the plan of study that is appropriate for the degree requirements. The supervisor has a responsibility to pass on to graduate students explicitly the attitudes and practices necessary to maintain the dignity and integrity of the profession. Supervisors are responsible for the reliability and academic honesty of their student to the extent that they should be vigilant to obvious signs of inaccuracy resulting from carelessness or academic dishonesty and be prepared to investigate suspicious cases, and willing to act, when evidence of carelessness or misconduct exits. The supervisor has the major responsibility of monitoring the progress of a student, and informs the Graduate Office on a regular basis through the Annual Progress report of the student‟s progress. The supervisor and the Department Thesis Committee must approve the thesis before it can be submitted to the Department Head. The supervisor, after consultation with the student about appropriate dates, initiates a request to set up an oral examination and makes recommendations regarding the proposed date and the examining committee membership.

Policy on Authorship

The department has considered the question of the authorship of papers arising from joint research done in the Department and recommends the following guidelines.

Joint Authorship

The authorship of a paper should accurately reflect the intellectual contributions of each individual. These include the origin of the ideas, the design of the study, the collection and interpretation of the data, the preparation and submission of the manuscript, and the completion of all revisions and editorial requirements. All else being equal, the first author should be the individual who has written the paper and guided it through the editorial process.

A research assistant who is hired to conduct a study is not normally included as an author. If his or her contributions exceed the job requirements, this should be acknowledged in a footnote. Financial support for the project should be acknowledged in a footnote.

Thesis Research

The production of a thesis involves an interaction between a student and a supervisor and the authorship of any resulting publications should reflect the contributions of each. Supervision is part of the teaching duties for university staff and does not necessarily warrant authorship. However, if the supervisor has contributed to the research, he or she should be included so that others are not misled about the student's capabilities for independent research.

In general:

The student should be the sole author if the thought and work are the student's and the supervisor has provided no more than general guidance and encouragement during data collection and writing. The contributions of the supervisor should be acknowledged in a footnote.

The supervisor should be included as a junior author if he or she has contributed to the planning and design of the research and the student has written the paper with no more than usual guidance from the supervisor.

The supervisor should be included as senior author if he or she initiates the research, determined the course of data collection, and wrote the resulting paper.

The interaction between the student and the supervisor is complex and serves many purposes. The student is often unaware of the stimulation and guidance provided by the supervisor; indeed, a good supervisor may foster a sense of independence while maintaining close, though indirect, control.

Authorship should be determined by mutual agreement prior to the completion of the project if possible. If disagreements arise, the Head of the Department or the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies should be asked to mediate.

The student has a responsibility to provide broad public access by publishing the results of the thesis in an appropriate journal. If s/he chooses not to then the supervisor should be given the opportunity to prepare & publish the manuscript.

Access to Data

All students should be aware that the publication of scientific results entails a responsibility to provide other researchers with access to the raw data. The fifth edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association states:

“To permit interested readers to verify the statistical analysis, an author should retain the raw data after publication of the research. Authors of manuscripts accepted for publication in APA journals are required to have available their raw data throughout the editorial review process and for at least 5 years after the date of publication.” This should also be observed with all theses as well as scientific papers. Whenever possible, the above information should be included as an appendix to the theses. In all cases, the supervisor should be regarded as an “interested reader” and should have access to the results.

Review of Progress

Student progress is assessed in the Spring. More frequent assessments may be made if the Graduate Committee judges this to be necessary.

Annual Report

Once every year, in late Spring students and their supervisors are required to complete a progress report. See Annual Graduate Student Report (PDF, 167 KB). The four program chairs review the progress of their students based on these annual progress reports (this may be done in consultation with faculty in their area) and report to the Coordinator of Graduate Studies. The graduate coordinator will send a response to students based on feedback from the program chairperson. If progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory, the respective program committee may recommend to the Graduate Committee that the student be placed on probation. Please familiarize yourself with these guidelines for it is on the basis of these deadlines that your progress will be evaluated.. See Criteria for Satisfactory Progress (PDF, 30 KB).

Ranking of Students

A yearly ranking is done primarily for the purpose of fellowships and scholarships. This ranking is compiled by each program chair and then submitted to the Coordinator who then calls a meeting of the four program chairs in order to merge the lists into an overall ranking. Program areas use slightly different criteria to rank their students, questions about this process should be directed to your program chair.

Guidelines for Satisfactory Progress

Drawing on many years of experience the psychology department through its Graduate Committee has developed and maintains a set of guidelines for determining the satisfactory progress of graduate students in our program.

The major purpose of these guidelines is to make explicit to student and supervisors the criteria which will be used by the Graduate Committee in monitoring each student's progress. In many ways these guidelines mirror the guidelines which have been established by the Provincial Government for funding arrangements for graduate students across the province. We have found that a major cause of slow progress in the past has been a delay in starting M.Sc. and Ph.D. research projects. As a result, it is of utmost importance that we as a Department do everything possible to encourage an early start on thesis committee formation and research initiation. Also, the times at which comprehensive examinations are to be taken have not in the past been clearly defined; and recent guidelines attempt to reduce that uncertainty. The guidelines provide a definition of satisfactory progress in the graduate program and specify the consequences of failure to maintain satisfactory progress. The timetable and policies outlined are designed to assist the student, the supervisor, and the Graduate Committee in monitoring each student's progress. The "deadline date", indicates the dates after which, if the particular objective in question is not completed, progress will be deemed to be unsatisfactory. Normally, if a student's progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory he/she will be placed on academic probation by the Department as per the existing rules and procedures regarding probationary status. As already provided in this mechanism, failure to meet conditions imposed during the probationary term will normally result in a student being asked to withdraw. In addition, having one's progress deemed unsatisfactory by the Graduate Committee may jeopardize: (1) admission to the Ph.D.; and (2) continued financial support from external, University, or Departmental sources. It is recognized that each student and each thesis is unique and that slavish adherence to a timetable is not always feasible or desirable. Faster progress than that suggested by the “Deadline Dates” is considered desirable and possible; slower progress than that required by the “Deadlines Dates” may not inevitably indicate unsatisfactory progress. When progress is slower than the “Deadlines” indicated students are required to make a case for their progress to be considered satisfactory and, thus, for not being placed on probation.

Unsatisfactory progress

If progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory, the respective committee may recommend to the Graduate Committee that the student be placed on Probation.


The Graduate Committee is empowered to put a student on probation if progress is deemed unsatisfactory. This is reserved for those students who are deemed to be making inadequate progress during the first 5 years of registration. If this action does have to be taken, the student will be told clearly the reasons for it and will be given directions as to how to improve. The maximum probationary period would be one year, after which the student would be taken off probation or asked to withdraw from the program.

Permanent Review

This normally applies to students: in M.Sc.3 and above; students who entered the graduate program with an M.Sc. who are registered beyond year 4; and students who entered the graduate program with a B.A. who are registered beyond year 6. Permanent Review entails: A review by the Graduate Committee of the student's progress at the end of each term; specifications of progress to be made by the end of the following term; and possible sanctions to be imposed for failure to make progress as specified at previous review.

Appeal and Grievance Procedures

Appeal of Academic Decisions These procedures were developed in accordance with a directive from Division I of the School of Graduate Studies and Research and represent the course of action that is to be followed if a graduate student in the Department of Psychology wishes to appeal an academic decision. These procedures should be read in conjunction with the linked section of the Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies.

Review of Course Grades

Informal Appeal

If a student wishes to appeal a course grade he or she should first appeal informally to the instructor of the course and ensure that the instructor is award of all the facts which the student believes should bear on the decision. This informal appeal should be made as soon as possible after the grade is announced and, in all cases, within a month of the decision.

Formal Appeal

If the student is not satisfied by the informal review outlined above and still feels the decision is not academically just, then he or she may appeal to the Head of the Department for a further review. This request should be in the form of a letter to the Head and should outline all the relevant facts presented at the informal review and should be lodged within two weeks of the informal review. The Head of the Department will then appoint an ad hoc committee to undertake the Departmental review. This review committee should consist of a professor nominated by the graduate student and two additional professors appointed by the Head of Department. The student and the instructor of the course in question should be interviewed by the committee to ensure that all the pertinent facts are taken into consideration. The committee will submit a written report which will represent the final departmental decision on the matter. Admission to Ph.D. A student, registered in the M.Sc. Program, who is denied admission to the Ph.D. Program, may appeal to the Graduate Committee and request that they reconsider their decision. The student may attend the meeting convened to hear the appeal and he or she, together with a member of faculty of their choice, may present such facts as they consider relevant to the appeal. Having done so, they will be asked to withdraw from the meeting.

Withdrawal on General Academic Grounds (Unsatisfactory Progress)

If a student wishes to appeal a Departmental decision for Withdrawal on General Academic Grounds, he or she should submit a written request to the Head of Department within a month of being informed of the withdrawal decision. Since the decision to seek withdrawal would have already progressed through several levels of discussion and decision making (supervisor, supervisory committee, Graduate Committee) the Head will call a Special Department Meeting to review the decision at which the student should present all the facts which he or she believes are relevant to the decision. A written report of this meeting will be prepared and will contain the final Departmental decision on this matter.

M.Sc. and Ph.D. Theses

Since the examinations are conducted by the School of Graduate Studies and Research, reviews of these decisions should follow the procedures outlined in the Graduate Calendar.

Clinical Psychology Program Remediation Policy 2019 Revised (PDF, 229 KB)


Graduate Program Administrator
Department of Psychology, 62 Arch Street
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
Tel: 613-533-6034