Loyola University Chicago

Department of Psychology


Social Graduate Program

What is a graduate assistantship, and how do I obtain one?

Students who are funded on department assistantships are assigned to a faculty member and are required to assist that faculty member in his/her research and teaching responsibilities. A full assistantship requires 20 hours per week. Assistantships are scarce and are awarded on a merit basis. Although assistantship assignments are made anew each spring, students entering the program with only a BA/BS are typically funded for the first four years of their graduate studies, except under special circumstances. Students entering the program with an MA degree in psychology are typically funded for the first two years. However, having an assistantship does not automatically insure that it will be continued for the full funding period. Also, assistantship duties may change as a function of changes in Graduate School funding operations. Some assistants (post MA degree) may be assigned to teach classes on their own rather than assisting faculty.

Unfortunately, the Social Program rarely (if ever) has control over enough resources to fund all of our incoming students. Students who do not receive assistantships are encouraged to seek other funding sources both within and outside the university. The program faculty are committed to helping such students in any way that we can. However, we also strongly encourage unfunded students to get involved in a faculty member's research as soon as possible in their first year.

How long does the program usually take?

The doctoral program is designed to be a four year course of study. In practice, although a few students have completed the program within that time frame, most have taken about five to six years. The Graduate School has established an eight year time limit for students entering with a Bachelor's degree, and a six year time limit for students entering with a Master's degree. Although the time line for meeting various requirements will vary somewhat for each student, it is important for students to complete requirements within a reasonable time frame.

The terminal Master's program is intended to be a two year course of study. However, it is recognized that with some overload it can be completed in less time, or with some part-time study it will naturally take longer. However, no student may take longer than five years to complete the program.

Tell me more about the doctoral candidacy exam and the dissertation process.

The dissertation represents the culmination of one's graduate study. Writing a dissertation is an opportunity to draw upon all of one's knowledge and experience while making an original contribution to general knowledge and/or the solution to some social problem. After finishing the candidacy exam, students are well prepared for this task. In fact, students typically formulate their exam areas with an eye toward their relevance for the dissertation. For example, a student may have in mind the possibility of evaluating a school health education program as a dissertation topic. For the candidacy exam, the student might then select: integration of theories about communication and persuasion for the theoretical area, school health education as the applied specialty area, questionnaire design for the method area, and path analysis or structural equation modeling for the statistical area.

For more information on the doctoral process, please download the handbook, or contact the Graduate Program Director here.