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.  To be considered complete, the project must be written in APA format and must include a standardized cover sheet (Second Year Project Cover Sheet). This cover sheet must be signed by all members of the committee.  NOTE: If you have four guidance committee members, please contact the SDSU Program Coordinator for a modified cover sheet.

Please follow the guidelines listed below when submitting your second year project:

  • Once the project is complete and the cover sheet has been signed by all members of the committee, submit both documents AND your 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 a Word document.  The title of the file should be Second Year Project [your complete name] [year completed]
  • The title of the cover sheet file should be Second Year Project Cover Sheet [your complete name] [date approved by all committee members]
  • 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 M.S. degree can be conferred.  Upon receipt of the finished second year project and the successful completion of all required courses, the SDSU program office will submit the forms necessary to allow students to receive the M.S. degree.

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

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 M.S. degree.

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.

Again, the student must submit an electronic copy of the completed Second Year Project, along with the signed cover sheet (Second Year Project Cover Sheet), to the SDSU JDP office. No paper copy needs to be submitted.


Students cannot be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree until the second year project is completed.

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.