The Second Year Project is an original research project with the student as first author.  It may take place within the context of an ongoing research program, but the student is responsible for conducting all phases of the project with support from his/her Guidance Committee. All second year projects must have IRB approval from both Universities; some may also require IRB approval from the VA or other agencies.  Please discuss this with your mentor at the time you decide the topic of your second year project.

The Second Year Project is expected to incorporate rigorous scientific design, including methods and analytic approaches appropriate to the aims of the project, and with attention to the need for statistical power, reliability, validity, and replicability. Second Year Projects completed for the JDP are typically quantitative in analytic approach, or represent a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses (i.e., mixed methods). A well-designed and well-executed qualitative project may be acceptable, but students considering this approach should consult closely with their mentors and the Co-DCTs before proceeding.

The project must be written in either APA format or in a format that allows the student to submit their second year project to a specific journal for publication. The goal is for all students to turn their second year project into a first-author publication.

Students typically think about completing the Second Year Project in the following stages:

First Stage

The student submits an abstract/summary of the research proposal to their Guidance Committee members before or during his/her second year. This can be either in writing or orally during a Guidance Committee meeting.  Regardless, each student should obtain approval of the overall concept and design of the second year project from each member of the Guidance Committee before moving forward with it. Human subjects’ approval must be obtained before data collection can begin. For more information on how to obtain IRB approval, visit our Human Subjects/IRB webpage.

Ideally, the student should initiate data collection by the end of the first year, and complete the collection of data and/or running of the project by the middle of the second year.

Second Stage

The project should be written up by the student with minimal additional faculty assistance and submitted to the Guidance Committee for approval; in some instances approval by the Co-Directors may also be required.  Ideally this should be done by the end of the second year in the program; at this point a student should be ready to obtain his/her MS degree.

Once the project has been reviewed and approved by the Guidance Committee, the Guidance Committee members must sign the Second Year Project Cover Sheet.

Third Stage

The student should prepare and submit the Second Year Project as a publication. While this can be done any time, there are good reasons to get this publication done as early as possible, meaning that it is best if you can have it submitted some time during the third year.

Authorship of articles emanating from the proposal will be determined by the student and the Guidance Committee, and by APA & Ethical Standards pertaining to publications.  Note:  the Second Year Project is equivalent to a masters’ thesis project and is equivalent to Plan B in how SDSU defines masters’ degree requirements.

Submitting Your Second Year Project

Please follow the guidelines listed below when submitting your completed and approved second year project to the JDP:

  • Once the project is complete and the cover sheet has been signed by all members of the Guidance Committee, submit both documents AND the IRB Approval Letter by email to the SDSU Program Coordinator, Lynsey Miller (, making sure to copy your mentor.
  • The second year project file should be submitted as a PDF document.  The title of the file should be “Second Year Project – [your complete name]”
  • The title of the cover sheet file should be “Cover Sheet for Second Year Project – [your complete name]”
  • The email should read: Attached please find a copy of my approved second year project, signed cover sheet, and IRB approval letter.

You must submit your second year project and signed cover sheet using the guidelines posted above before this requirement can be met, and before the MS degree can be conferred. Refer to the Master of Science in Clinical Psychology webpage for more information on the MS degree requirements and how to apply.

Note: Students cannot propose their dissertation and therefore cannot be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree until the second year project is completed.