Doctoral Committee Structure

A student’s doctoral committee should be established by the end of the second year of graduate work. At admission, a member of the core faculty is assigned to serve as each student’s academic advisor. The advisor meets with the student prior to the start of the fall semester and develops a preliminary plan of study. The faculty member will serve as the student’s academic advisor until the student selects the Chair of his/her doctoral committee. The advisor may or may not eventually be the chair of the student's dissertation committee. This often depends on whether the advisor's area of expertise is relevant to the student's interest. However, the advisor will, in any event, be in a position to direct the student to faculty members with the most appropriate skills. Students also are encouraged to consult faculty other than the advisor on any matter of concern or interest to them. Once a student selects a chair and doctoral committee, the chair, along with the doctoral committee, develop the formal plan of study and will provide ongoing guidance regarding the student's academic program.

The doctoral committee must consist of either four or five members, depending upon the student’s program of study. If the degree program is structured to include one 24-hour cognate, then the committee will typically consists of four members: two from the student’s major area (school psychology), one from the cognate field, and one member appointed by the Graduate School. Students are expected to develop a doctoral committee no later than the end of the spring semester of their second year.

School Psychology Faculty Dissertation Load

The school psychology faculty developed a dissertation load limit policy with the goal of helping students complete the dissertation in a timely manner. Limiting the number of committees any faculty member can chair helps ensure that each student receives the appropriate amount of support during the dissertation process and facilitates completion of the dissertation in a timely manner. In addition, this policy will ensure an equitable distribution of dissertation advisement among faculty. The following criteria will be followed by faculty:

  1. For each incoming class, each faculty member may accept up to two students per year to serve as their dissertation chair.
  2. Each faculty member may chair up to 10 total committees at any given time. If a faculty member exceeds the limit they may no longer accept any new students.
  3. For this policy, co-chairing counts as chairing a committee.
  4. This limit includes faculty members in educational psychology as it applies to school psychology students. That is, an educational psychology faculty member could agree to chair the dissertation committee of up to two school psychology students per year, chairing up to a total of 10 school psychology dissertation committees at any one time.
  5. This policy is to go into effect for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Prior to approaching a faculty member and selecting a committee chair, it is recommended that students visit with the departmental secretary who keeps track of the number of committees each faculty member chairs.


The department offers several doctoral cognates (a formally recognized concentration of study, which includes specific courses and/or practica) including neuropsychology, developmental psychology, educational psychology, assessment, and research methodology. Other frequent cognates are those in counseling psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, sociology, and special education (Applied Behavior Analysis and/or autism). Flexibility is allowed in the development of skills and knowledge within the candidate’s interest area(s). Students will select either two cognate fields consisting of a minimum of 15 hours each or a single cognate field consisting of a minimum of 24 hours. For the 15-hour cognate, 9 hours must be taken at Ball State; 12 hours of the 24-hour cognate must be taken at Ball State. The majority of students complete the single 24-hour cognate. A faculty member from that concentration area must supervise the choice of courses in the cognate and sit as a member of the student’s doctoral dissertation committee.