Women's Studies and Psychology

The joint Psychology and Women's Studies PhD program is for students specializing in both the Gender & Feminist Psychology and the Personality & Social Contexts program areas. For more information about the program areas in the Department of Psychology, please visit their website. Please contact wsdgradinquiry@umich.edu with questions.

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Recommended Progress


Fourth Term Reviews


WS 891

Dissertation Prospectus/Proposal

Transferring Credits

Faculty of the Women’s Studies and Psychology Doctoral Program

Recommended Progress

Please Note: This timeline notes typical progress through the program. Your schedule may be slightly different depending on when certain courses (e.g. Psych 654) are offered.

First Year


  • WS 501—Proseminar in Women’s Studies
  • WS 602 —Approaches to Feminist Scholarship
  • PSYCH 613—Statistics I
  • PSYCH 619—Individual Research
  • PSYCH 653—P&SC Orientation
  • PSYCH 654—Classical and Modern P&SC Theories


  • WS 530—Feminist Theory
  • PSYCH 506—Research Ethics
  • PSYCH 614—Statistics II
  • PSYCH 854—Advanced P&SC Methods I (or II)
  • PSYCH 619—Individual Research

Second Year


  • PSYCH 609—Teaching Academy
  • PSYCH 619—Individual Research
  • 2 Electives in WS


  • PSYCH 619—Individual Research
  • 1 Elective in WS
  • 1 area seminar (by end of second year)
  • Candidacy achieved

Other requirements

  • Prelim portfolio in Psych due in May
  • Fourth-term Review in WS
  • Begin working on WS 891 after finishing Psych 619 (summer)
  • Teach two terms (typically in Psych)

Third Year

  • Finish coursework if necessary
  • Begin working on dissertation prospectus
  • Psych or WS 995
  • Teach two terms (typically in WS)

Fourth Year

  • Psych or WS 995
  • Dissertation Research
  • Teach one terms (either Psych or WS; students should have taught in Psych at least two terms and WS at least two terms for a total of five terms)

Fifth Year

  • Psych or WS 995
  • Complete Dissertation


The Women's Studies Director of Graduate Studies is the primary advisor for first-year joint PhD students. It is recommended that first-year students consult with the Graduate Director at least once a term. The DPC liaison is considered a secondary advisor for first-year students. This person is familiar with both sets of requirements and should also be helpful in constructing a joint program.

Psychology students will work with their PSYCH 619 advisor. If the 619 advisor does not have an appointment in WS, joint students may seek out someone who holds a joint appointment in WS and Psychology as their joint program advisor and WS mentor. In their second and third years, WS and Psychology students will continue to be advised by their 619 advisors and/or their joint program advisor, as well as the faculty liaison.

All fourth and fifth year students will be advised by their dissertation chairs. In all years, the WS Graduate Director continues to be an important resource.

Fourth Term Reviews

Women's Studies reviews all joint Psychology and Women's Studies students winter term of their second year. This meeting is intended to offer the student and faculty members an opportunity to discuss the student's progress in the program and plans for future research. In other words, it is not a screening, but part of the mentoring process. At the time of the fourth term review, it is helpful to have completed your PSYCH 619 project, but not necessary.

The Fourth Term Review has two main purposes: to assess the student's progress in the program and to map out a plan to the dissertation. The committee will ask questions about any gaps in the record to date; whether the student has any concerns about her training and if so, what additional training she might need; and the direction of her research. The meeting can be thought of as part evaluative and part mentoring about the future. Most students find the meeting very helpful.

The student:

1. Begins by selecting a committee. The review committee will consist of:

  • A faculty member affiliated with Women's Studies
  • A faculty member affiliated with Psychology
  • A faculty member with relevant expertise from any department

If faculty members are unfamiliar with the process, the Women’s Studies Director of Graduate Studies will designate a committee chair, generally the joint faculty member, and meet with them to discuss procedures.

2. Arranges an agreeable meeting time with their committee (before May 1). The meeting should be 1.5 hours in duration. The student also coordinates a meeting space (in Psychology or Women’s Studies). The Women’s Studies Graduate Program Coordinator can assist if necessary; the student must inform the Coordinator of the confirmed meeting time/place and committee members.

3. Submits the following materials to the Women’s Studies Graduate Program Coordinator at least one week before the proposed meeting:

  • short self-appraisal/statement about progress and future research plans (2-3 pages)
  • unrevised writing sample of any length from any course (with or without instructor comments) or PSYCH 619

The Women's Studies Graduate Coordinator will collect comments from all faculty who have taught the student in a course, print out an updated transcript, and create a 4th term review packet with all relevant information. The Women’s Studies Graduate Coordinator will distribute the packet to members of the student’s committee in advance of the meeting. The meeting will be an opportunity to:

  • review and discuss the student’s academic record
  • discuss student progress in the joint program and future research plans

The major topic of discussion will be the PSYCH 619 project. (It is helpful but not necessary to have completed it). The committee will assess progress within the context of the joint PhD program and will assist the student in setting up the next steps.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Psychology Fourth Term Review Form should be completed and filed with the Women’s Studies Graduate Coordinator.

Note: The WS 891 one hour meeting can be combined with the fourth term review.


Students are required to submit a complete portfolio by May 15 of their second year. The prelim portfolio consists of two major components: Conceptual Essays and Course Portfolio.

The prelim exams are amended for joint students as follows:

  • Two conceptual essays (instead of three)
  • Course portfolio should be relevant to both programs

WS 891

All students in Psychology complete a research project in PSYCH 619. The 619 paper forms the basis for the 891 project. The fourth term review and 891 meetings may be combined at the end of the second year, but the 891 must be completed by the end of the fall term of the third year. The goal of the 891 is for students to consider how the 619 project might have been approached differently if it had been influence by Women's Studies/feminist scholarship and to think about how it might have been different if more interdisciplinary in its conception.

The student forms a committee, which may be the same committee as the fourth term review. The committee must consist of:

  • A faculty member affiliated with Women's Studies
  • A faculty member affiliated with Psychology
  • A faculty member with relevant expertise from any department

Each committee member makes written comments on the 619 and recommends additional readings. At the outset of the 891, the student distributes a document to the committee outlining what the main points of the 891 will be. The committee meets with the student for one hour to explore possible strategies for contextualizing the 619 project within interdisciplinary and feminist approaches to the subject.

If 619 is a mainstream project:

  • How does the literature need to be expanded in terms of theory and empirical literature in other disciplines?
  • How can the method be critiqued from a feminist and/or interdisciplinary perspective?
  • How could the results be interpreted differently?

If 619 is an interdisciplinary project:

  • How is it already informed by Women’s Studies?
  • How can what makes it feminist be made more explicit?
  • How could it be made more interdisciplinary or incorporate a more feminist perspective?

After the meeting, the student writes a framing document (8-10 pages) addressing the issues raised in the meeting. This document is circulated to the committee within 6 weeks of the 891 planning committee meeting. The chair asks members for their approval, determines if the project is acceptable, assigns the student a grade, and completes the requisite form (Psych 891 form, available from the Women's Studies Graduate Program Coordinator). The form should be returned to the WS Grad Program Coordinator. The form is included in the student's file and shared with the Psychology Student Academic Affairs Office.

Dissertation Prospectus/Proposal

The prospectus is a student's proposal or plan for dissertation research and writing. Please file a copy of your prospectus with the Women's Studies Graduate Office. In Psychology, students write a dissertation prospectus that is approved by their dissertation committee. A dissertation prospectus should contain: (1) an abstract of the specific aims of the investigation; (2) the background and significance of the proposed research, including the conceptual framework; (3) the research design and methods of procedure, including measurement techniques to be used, if applicable; (4) analysis strategies to be followed; (5) a tentative timetable. (Faculty in each Area and Joint Program will determine the length and detail of these sections).

In the Personality and Social Contexts area of Psychology, there is no set deadline for defense of the prospectus although students are strongly encouraged to have their prospectus successfully defended by the end of their fourth year in the program. 

See also: Department of Psychology website

Transferring Credits

All proposals to satisfy program requirements using coursework from a program outside University of Michigan must be discussed with the Director of Graduate Studies in both Women's Studies and your department. Graduate credits may be transferred to Master's degree programs only. However, although course credits cannot be transferred to your PhD program, graduate work done elsewhere may be used to satisfy certain requirements but will not appear on the University transcript.

In Psychology, to use an MA thesis to fulfill a research seminar requirement or count a cognate or statistics requirement taken elsewhere towards your Psychology requirements at Michigan, you must discuss the matter with your area chair.

Faculty of the Women’s Studies and Psychology Doctoral Program

The faculty listed below are all eligible to serve as representatives of Women’s Studies for purposes of advising and graduate student committee service.  If you have any questions about a faculty member’s eligibility, please consult the Director of Graduate Studies.


Elizabeth Cole
Jacquelynne Eccles
Sandra Graham-Bermann
Patricia Gurin (Emerita)
Denise Sekaquaptewa
Abby Stewart

Associate Professors

Terri Conley
Lilia Cortina
Ramaswami Mahalingam
Sari van Anders

Assistant Professors

Sara McClelland

For Psychology faculty program areas, please refer to the Psychology Department's faculty listing by program area.

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