Prerequisites for the Dissertation

The Psychology Executive Office has instituted policies to help students with the forms and procedures required for the doctoral dissertation. These are outlined under the headings below, and are intended to ease the process of completing forms correctly and obtaining official signatures.

If you still have questions after reviewing the information below, please contact the APO of Academic Support and Student Progress at

Prerequisites for the Dissertation

Please see the headings below for forms, requirements, and procedures related to the doctoral dissertation:

The completed Dissertation Topic and Committee Selection Form initiates the process of moving to Level III and Advancing to Candidacy. This form requests the names of your committee members, the working title of your dissertation, and a summary of your proposed research.  NOTE: The Graduate Center requires that at least three committee members be CUNY doctoral faculty.

All the information on this form may change up until the day you defend. Please resubmit this form with any requested changes to

To be certified as a candidate for a doctoral degree (advancement to Level III of the process of earning the doctoral degree), students must have completed the following requirements:

  • completed all required course work (of which at least 30 credits must be taken at the City University) with at least an overall B average;
  • all grades are posted on the student’s transcript (any OPEN grades must be cleared- this includes INC grades before submitting forms to Basya Kasinitz);
  • The First and Second Doctoral Examinations are posted on the student’s transcript. See here for instructions on how to get these posted on your transcript.
  • The Committee Chair approves and signs the Dissertation Topic and Committee Selection Form and Statement (original signatures are not required);
  • The completed and signed form and the proposed research summary Statement are sent as email attachments to

The APO will review, sign and process the form and statement. If all requirements are met:

  • The student will be sent an Advancement to Candidacy form to complete and return to
  • The APO (Basya) will notify the Registrar who will process the request to move to Level III and Advancement to Candidacy.
  • The Registrar’s Office will send an email to the student informing them that they have been Advanced to Candidacy.
  • Students will register for 90000 Dissertation Supervision only (no WIUs), which will make them full time matriculated students.
  • Students continue to register for 90000 Dissertation Supervision through the semester they defend and/or complete the electronic dissertation deposit. Clinical Psychology students continue to register for 90000 Dissertation Supervision while they are on Internship.

** The following training areas require the Chair's and the Training Area Coordinator's approval before it is submitted to the EO Office: Behavior Analysis, Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Developmental Psych, Psychology and Law, Clinical Psychology at John Jay College, and Clinical Psychology at Queens College.

The University’s policy states: 
Dissertation committees consist of at least three members of the CUNY doctoral faculty and are approved according to procedures detailed in the governance document of each program. 
Psychology students should refer to their Training Area’s Handbook or to their Training Area Head for questions. 
Students must have three CUNY Doctoral faculty on their dissertation committee. The three CUNY Doctoral faculty committee members may make up the three core committee or they may make up any combination of the core committee and outside readers.
Any exceptions to having less than three CUNY Doctoral faculty committee members will need to be approved by the Execution Officer in Psychology.
GC Doctoral Faculty Who Retire or Leave CUNY
All faculty are expected to advise the GC doctoral, masters, and certificate programs of which they are a member of changes as they occur in their status, such as promotion, home institution, separation, or retirement.  The Provost’s Offices requests all Graduate Center program administrators to forward these changes directly to Steven Wong, with a cc to, so that he may update our official record of the program’s faculty membership.  Address changes are one exception and are not handled through the Provost’s Office.
An appointment to the doctoral faculty ends with their separation from CUNY.  
Faculty membership continues through periods of official leave, including travia.  Separation is the final effective date of the end of their employment association with CUNY. 
GC Doctoral Faculty in RETIREMENT:
Appointment after retirement as Emeritus of the doctoral faculty is decided by the doctoral program’s Faculty Membership Committee and is not automatic upon emeritus status at the home college.
Faculty who, after separation, anticipate continuing to serve as Chair until a dissertation is complete, should be named Emeritus of the doctoral faculty.  Such service is voluntary.  No special form is required.  
The Executive Officer may write or email the Provost's Office at with confirmation that the Faculty Membership Committee has approved the designation of Professor Emeritus of the program's faculty.  
Please include his current home address to which a letter with notification of the appointment will be sent by the Provost.  
Emeritus faculty may serve on a dissertation committee, but may only serve as Chair of a dissertation committee if they were already serving as the Chair prior to separation.  
If they wish to teach a regular course as a volunteer, there is simple a volunteer authorization form they can complete.
If a retired faculty member is, by vote of your faculty membership committee, named emeritus of the doctoral faculty in the Ph.D. Program in Psychology, then as doctoral faculty they can serve on a committee, but not as chair, and be counted as part of the three core committee members or as an outside reader.
GC Doctoral Faculty who LEAVE CUNY:
Faculty who leave CUNY for another institution, but who expect to continue to serve as Chair of a Graduate Center dissertation committee, should be named as adjunct members of the doctoral faculty for the period of the dissertation supervision.  Such service is voluntary.  The appointment listing will indicate the person’s new institution as their home affiliation.  These c may continue to serve on dissertation committees, either as the Chair or a member, only if they were already serving prior to separation.  Note that an adjunct member of the doctoral faculty, so named because their home institution is outside of CUNY, or occasionally because they do not hold an academic appointment within CUNY, such as an IT manager, is distinct from a GC paid adjunct appointment through Human Resources. 
For such adjunct appointments, the usual doctoral faculty nomination forms must be submitted to the Provost’s Office with the vote of your faculty membership committee.  
If the adjunct appointment will end when service on the dissertation committee(s) is complete, please inform the faculty member as well as include in the Comment area of the nomination form “Faculty member has been advised that the appointment will end when service on the dissertation committee(s) is complete”.  The Comment is in lieu of the one year’s advance notice of your program’s intention to remove them from faculty membership, and allows them to serve as long as needed.
Doctoral faculty membership continues until dissertation service is complete.
Please contact the Psychology Executive Office to see if a retired faculty member has been given Emeritus status and how to proceed.
Please contact the Psychology Executive Office if the committee member is a former CUNY Doctoral faculty member now at another institution to verify their adjunct status and how to proceed.

Please complete the Request for Approval of Non-CUNY-Doctoral Faculty Dissertation Committee Member form for any Non-CUNY-doctoral faculty on your committee. Outside readers should have demonstrable expertise in the appropriate field of study, based on their scholarly work over the recent past. Alumni from CUNY must not have overlapped with the student defending their dissertation.

Send an email attachment of the form and the member's CV to the APO for Academic Support and Student Progress ( Original signatures are not required. The form and CV will be reviewed by the Psychology Executive Office, and you will be notified by email if the committee member(s) are not approved.

Please copy the Administrative person of your training area on all correspondence with the Psychology Executive Office.

The dissertation proposal is a detailed account of the dissertation research to be conducted. In general, it includes a review of previous research in the area, a statement of the hypotheses and their rationale, and a description of the research design. Once the requirements for the First and Second Doctoral Exam have been met, the student may now move on to the Dissertation Proposal.

The student's Dissertation Proposal Committee is composed of three CUNY Doctoral Faculty members. The Dissertation Proposal Committee meets at least once to approve the Dissertation Proposal, and to sign off on the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form. Once the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form has been signed:

  1. A scanned copy of the approved Dissertation Proposal and Dissertation Proposal Approval Form is sent to the APO of Academic Support and Student Progress ( in the Psychology Executive Office. (Original signatures are not required on the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form - a scanned copy of the original document is fine).
  2. If the Training Area has an Administrative Assistant, file a copy of the Approved Dissertation Proposal and the original Dissertation Approval Form with that person.
  3. The student retains a copy of the approved Dissertation Approval Form for their records.
  4. After the Dissertation Proposal is approved, the student must apply to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval to conduct the proposed research. This approval must be granted before the student begins their dissertation research. More info on the GC HRPP website.
  5. Mandatory notification requirements and travel insurance are required for international academic travel by graduate students for independent research, internships, language study, practicums, conference attendance/presentation, or job interviews regardless of the source of funding.  See more at: International Travel Requirements for Current Students.

Please make sure the Administrative person of your training area is copied on all correspondence with the Psychology Executive Office.

The CUNY Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) is responsible for the protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects in research projects conducted at CUNY or by CUNY faculty, staff and students and RF CUNY staff. The program provides oversight, administrative support and educational training to ensure that CUNY research complies with federal and State regulations, University policy and the highest ethical standards. The CUNY HRPP comprises of 5 University Integrated Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and 19 on-site HRPP offices.

The Graduate Center Bulletin: Human Subjects Compliance
The Graduate Center has an ethical and legal commitment to protect human subjects in research. All such research, whether for the dissertation or for other purposes, must be reviewed and approved by the CUNY HRPP (Human Research Protection Program) prior to its initiation. This includes interviews, observations, questionnaires, use of previously collected data with identifiers, and any other methods by which data are obtained from human subjects. Student researchers who are conducting research with human subjects must complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) human subjects training, as must their advisors.
Important Information for Student Principal Investigators (P.I.s) Concerning Internal Review Board (IRB) Submissions: CUNY graduate students must submit their research protocols involving human subjects research to the HRPP Office at the CUNY College with which their faculty advisor has his/her primary affiliation. This applies to new and open protocols. Thus, any P.I. with an open IRB protocol must submit continuing review applications, amendments, and/or closure forms to the advisor’s primary campus irrespective of where he/she submitted the original application.

*All CUNY students must submit their human subjects research protocols to the HRPP office at the CUNY campus with which their faculty advisor has their primary affiliation. Contact information for the HRPP Coordinator at each CUNY College is available here. 

Contact GC HRPP:
*Please include your IDEATE protocol number in all correspondence
Rebecca Banchik, BA, CIP
Director of the Human Research Protection Program
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Room 3300.28
Phone: 212-817-7525

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Non-Human Animals Hunter College Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
Both federal and state regulations require the humane treatment of animals used in research and educational activities. Meeting these requirements is the function of the Hunter College Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee IACUC, the veterinarian, and the Manager of the Hunter College Animal Facility. Quality science requires quality animal care. The IACUC, the Hunter College veterinarian, and the facility manager work together with the researcher to ensure that animal experiments and educational activities are conducted in accordance with the highest scientific, humane, and ethical principles. All studies involving the use of live animals must be approved by the IACUC. This applies to all vertebrate animals, even those that do not enter the animal facilities and those that may be sacrificed upon arrival. It also includes animal studies performed at other institutions by Hunter faculty and staff.