Committees and Organizations

Committee on Higher Degrees 

(CHD), headed by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) is charged with immediate oversight of graduate training. The Committee acts on petitions for leaves of absence (e.g., medical, maternity, or study elsewhere); credit for prior graduate work; waivers of or extensions of deadlines for any requirements; fulfillment of the quantitative requirement; and appointment of thesis and prospectus committees. The CHD approves first- and second-year research projects. Each year the Committee reviews the academic standing of all students, considering grades, Incompletes, and any special problems. Students are notified directly of CHD action. The Committee also recommends changes in academic policy to the Department (e.g., orals procedure, criteria for the three-paper thesis option, financial aid policy, the five-year rule, and any other aspect of the graduate student program).

The Committee meets twice each term to consider major issues. The agenda is distributed to Committee members prior to each meeting; thus, students should give the Graduate Officer any material to be several days before each meeting. Straightforward items are reviewed by the CHD via e-mail, and a quick response is often available. It is wise to talk to your advisor about any matter you are bringing to the CHD, and perhaps get a note of support for your petition. It is also a good idea to discuss your petition with the faculty representative to the CHD from your area. If there are issues related more generally to the graduate student experience that you believe should be brought up to the CHD, ask the current graduate student representatives on the committee to bring these up at the next meeting.

In 2020/21 the DGS is Prof. Leah Somerville in Fall 2020 and Prof. Jesse Snedeker in Spring 2021. 

Committee on the Use of Human Subjects (CUHS)

Most research involving the use of human subjects (or information about identifiable, living individuals) requires advance review and approval by the Committee on the Use of Human Subjects, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' institutional review board (IRB). The policies and procedures binding the Committee and all who do such research under the auspices of the Faculty are stated in a vote of the President and Fellows. The Committee meets monthly, although some projects that present no risk to subjects may be eligible for approval between scheduled meetings. Further information, including the President and Fellows' vote regarding the use of human subjects and downloadable application forms, is on the CUHS website.

All researchers working with human subjects, including students, are required to get training in the Responsible Conduct of Research. There are both in-person an on-line options.

Working with Animals 

Students who work with animals in research must meet several requirements, including getting mandatory TB testing, filing occupational health forms, taking the FAS-run course in animal handling, following regulations set by the Standing Committee on the Use of Animals in Research and Teaching, and discussion with the faculty sponsor on the implementation of particular experimental methods.

Study Pool Committee

The Psychology Department administers a Study Pool (an online pool of current research studies from which potential subjects can select) in Introductory Psychology Classes (Psych 1) and distribution classes (Psych 14, 15, SLS-15, 18, and other selected courses/seminars) . Students in these courses may either participate in up to five study hours for course credit or complete alternate assignments determined by their course instructor. Members of the community are also encouraged to participate in these studies for cash payment. Graduate students, undergraduate thesis writers, faculty and Board of Honors Tutors (on behalf of a student project) who have a direct connection to a Professor or Supervisor in the Psychology Department may apply to use this Pool for their research. The Pool serves both to introduce students to the process of psychological research and to provide members of the department with participants for their studies. For more information, visit the Study Pool website or contact the Study Pool Coordinator.

Other Committees

The Department maintains several other committees, some are more active than others. There are: Committee on Undergraduate Instruction (CUI), Admissions, Animal, Colloquium, Library, Methods, Curriculum, Undergraduate Education, Space, and Restricted Funds. There are also committees which deal with faculty searches and promotions. Some committees may seek student members, and such opportunities will be advertised.

The Department faculty as a whole meet several times per year to be briefed on, and hold votes on, Department business. Motions affecting graduate students are usually made by the Committee on Higher Degrees.

Psychology Graduate Student Organization (PGSO)  

The general goals of this group are to increase cohesiveness among students through academic and social programs, and to foster communication among students as well as between students and faculty. An open meeting is held at the beginning of each month to bring up issues and suggestions for practical ways to improve the quality of life for psychology graduate students. These meetings bring together students from different labs, RTGs, and incoming years in an effort to pool resources and ideas for the common good. Events sponsored by the PGSO are intended to increase cohesion, to promote collaboration, to facilitate informal mentorship for students at various stages of study and to engender faculty/student discussion. Events and programming stem from any student who expresses an interest in such events and proposals are considered at the monthly meetings to receive funding from the committee. Committee membership is open to any student who expresses interest. For the last two years, PGSO has conducted a survey of graduate student satisfaction with various areas of student life and presented the results to the Department at an end of the year event. PGSO has sponsored summer workshops on topics such as designing web sites and working with MatLab.

Graduate Student Council (GSC) 

The GSC is the voice of graduate students in academic, administrative and residential matters. It meets several times a year, usually at Dudley House. The Council discusses items of concern to the general student population, such as advising, health services, etc. The organization also sponsors trips, social functions, and special events, and provides funding for other student organizations. Each department is asked to send a representative, and we seek volunteers to fill these positions. If Psychology is represented at most meetings, our students are entitled to apply for travel and research grants from the GSC. The GSC also selects Commencement Marshalls from among the graduating students, and sponsors a Mentoring Award program, which allows students to recognize outstanding advisers. More information can be found at