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NBAjunkie

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Hello,

I am submitting this for my pre-doctoral intern coworker and not for myself.

We are both pre-doctoral CAPIC interns in the LA area. She has a 3.89 GPA, was never in academic or ethical trouble. She took a 1 year LOA after the economy busted to help save her parents house. Legitimately, she's not one of those grad cases of BPD where the school is giving her chance after chance but her Borderline-ness keeps her in some kind of victim state. She really just has one problem.

Her problem here is dissertation progress. La Verne apparently has an 8 year time limit for completing the PsyD and she has just reached that limit in December. Yeah, it's her fault for not getting it on time, and she was not a great pro-active communicator with her dissertation chair. However, her dissertation chair also happens to be her academic advisor, and the program director, and sits on the appeals committee for her schools academic dismissal-related matters.

So we have a 3.89 GPA student who has been offered to stay on as a post-doc at our site, is an EXCELLENT assessment intern and has no history of academic worry, that La Verne now wants to dismiss permanently in the home stretch of her time in school. I just feel so bad for this girl that even I lose sleep over it.

Recently, she went to her 1st hearing for reinstatement, and her advisor/chair-dude denied her and said he did not support her reinstatement. Then, at the appeals, the appeals also did not support her reinstatement. It's just down to the provost of the school now. However, let's face it, I'm affraid the school has already decided and that the provost's denial is just going to be a formality. He won't even consider it. Seems like a real buddy-buddy system at the school. I'm worried that her chair/advisor guy has been wearing too many hats and has a bit too much pull at that school. In addition, he has done relatively minimal on his end considering he wears so many hats. He sent her a total of one email in December, letting her know of her upcoming pending status. He has not contacted our agency, ever, regarding the matter, nor had he reached out in ANY capacity, advisor, chair, or other, regarding what she SHOULD do. He's basically just washed his hands of her. Our entire agency and group of psychologist/supervisors support our intern here. We all know she's a terrific clinician. We've all submitted letters on her behalf for her last appeal,which mattered not one bit during the appeal.

I have suggested to the intern that she get a lawyer that specializes in administrative law and academic matters. In addition, they won't provide her an answer for why the appeal was rejected, and while her chair has told her she may pick up the appeal papers at any time, the admin office says this is against policy and that the only way to look at her file is to request a time to come look at her file and anything in it in person. I have strongly recommended she do this and transcribe exactly what the appeal has said. That and lawyer up. I really believe that at this point, the school has already pegged her as a submissive little girl that will just accept her dismissal without batting a lash. I have strongly encouraged her to get ready to make this litigious, and even before it gets to that, having a lawyer you use for correspondence can at least show the school that you're ready to make things hard for them.

Behaviorally, I believe the response effort required by the provost to simply uphold the appeal's decision to dismiss her is very low compared to the effort required for him to investigate the matter, meet with her, and drum up some compassion to give her another shot. That is, it does not look good for her at this point, IMHO. That + them all being pretty buddy buddy leaves me to believe that hearing from a lawyer will let the school know that intern just wants a reinstatement to finish her dissertation and move on, and not trouble.

I know we've heard bad stories about dismissals before, but have you ever heard of anyone being dismissed who's done with their coursework, more than halfway done with their pre-doc internship, ready to begin their post-doc, done with comps, and just has dissertation to go, which even that is halfway done?

Opinions? Other advice for her? Know any particular California, WASC or APA policies/legal codes I may be able to better understand? It's all so appreciated. Thank you so much.
 
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erg923

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Dissertation is the students job. Benchmarks of which the student was informed and aware, have repeatedly not been met. Schools have finite amount of resources to devote. It all sounds solid to me.
 
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DynamicDidactic

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Sorry to hear about your friend. Getting dismissed, especially so close to completion is tough. The school, in general, has all right and even duty to dismiss students who do not meet the requirements. However, usually a remediation plan is presented before dismissal in programs. Did Le Verne enact such a plan? If yes, and your friend did not meet terms of that remediation plan then there is little a lawyer can help you with, imo.

Without a remediation plan, your friend has a strong argument to fight the dismissal.

I will say that 8 years is pretty stringent. I usually hear of the decade rule but that is often in traditional PhD programs.
 
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WisNeuro

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I will say that 8 years is pretty stringent. I usually hear of the decade rule but that is often in traditional PhD programs.
Ours was 10, but that also included the internship year. I had only heard of one student who took longer than 8 in our program, ever, though.
 

DynamicDidactic

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Legitimately, she's not one of those grad cases of BPD where the school is giving her chance after chance but her Borderline-ness keeps her in some kind of victim state. She really just has one problem.
I am not a person that is particularly sensitive to this sort of stuff but I feel that this frame of mind is very stigmatizing. BPD is already a maligned diagnoses that increases the difficulty in providing effective interventions for people that are often most in need. I hope that if any field can be most allied with reducing the stigma in healthcare about individuals diagnosed with BPD, it would be clinical psychologists. My goal is not to attack or insinuate that you are somehow poor at being a mental health professional. This post just happens to be an example how people unintentionally reinforce stereotyping and marginalization.

Lets remember that the term borderline is almost an archaic artifact that no longer fits the modern day conceptualization of individuals that are diagnosed with BPD.

Sorry for the detour.
 

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Sorry to hear about your friend. Getting dismissed, especially so close to completion is tough. The school, in general, has all right and even duty to dismiss students who do not meet the requirements. However, usually a remediation plan is presented before dismissal in programs. Did Le Verne enact such a plan? If yes, and your friend did not meet terms of that remediation plan then there is little a lawyer can help you with, imo.

Without a remediation plan, your friend has a strong argument to fight the dismissal.

I will say that 8 years is pretty stringent. I usually hear of the decade rule but that is often in traditional PhD programs.
Agreed with this. If the school followed their pre-established rules, there might be little the student can do. Given the time and monetary investment, at least consulting with a lawyer is probably worthwhile. But if a remediation plan of some sort was established, as DD said, things don't look good. Even without one, if the school's own plan doesn't require it, I have no idea how firm her case would be.

And yes, I've known students who were otherwise in good standing who were dismissed for not completing their dissertation. Only one that I can think of off-hand, but I attended a small-cohort program. And our upper-end deadline was 7 years (including internship).
 

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That timeline isn't adding up at all. Unless her coursework alone took 7 years, her leave didn't cause this problem.

A lawyer might be an okay idea, but if it hits the courts your friend is not going to win. The school will cite the manual, her lack of communication, failure to progress in a reasonable time, and that's it. They might even be able to go after her for their legal fees.
 
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MamaPhD

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I know we've heard bad stories about dismissals before, but have you ever heard of anyone being dismissed who's done with their coursework, more than halfway done with their pre-doc internship, ready to begin their post-doc, done with comps, and just has dissertation to go, which even that is halfway done?
Yes, sadly this sort of thing does happen and it's not unheard of.

Unless there was some serious procedural omission I'm not sure your friend has a strong case. Perhaps she could contact her campus ombudsman for guidance before, or in additional to, seeking legal counsel.

[Edited 4/27/16 10:45 AM]
 
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MCParent

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Yes, sadly this sort of thing does happen and it's not unheard of. That her chair has such power in multiple roles is concerning, but the fact that he is not leveraging his power to support her is also telling.
I've always thought that it is risky to give advice on stuff like this on this forum assuming that what is posted is an accurate and complete representation. When the situation is happening to the OP I'm doubtful enough that the story is complete and accurate; when it's coming from someone else I'm even less convinced.
 

MamaPhD

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I've always thought that it is risky to give advice on stuff like this on this forum assuming that what is posted is an accurate and complete representation.
Risky in what sense? I don't see why it's controversial to suggest consulting an ombudsperson. Otherwise, we're all indulging in a bit of speculation here - and that would include the plausible but unsubstantiated idea that the situation is being misrepresented.
 

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I have suggested to the intern that she get a lawyer that specializes in administrative law and academic matters
This is good advice - legal counsel may be the way to go. Also, has she gone through her program's manual (with a fine tooth-comb) to make sure that both she and her program have followed all the appropriate steps? She may find something there that will help her case, (as suggested above) if perhaps they did not offer remediation before dismissal. I have also heard most programs step-in beforehand with some sort of remediation, since most programs want their students to finish, and will work with them before knocking them out with only their Masters. I've also heard it reflects poorly for programs to report dismissals to the APA during their review reports. If she consults the APA, I believe they will begin to look at the school, and this may be something both she and the school want to avoid.

My question is how far long is she on her dissertation? She must, at very least, have her dissertation proposal accepted if she has a dissertation chair. Does she have her first couple of chapters written? And if not, why? (My program and most others, that I know of, require your first four chapters written and approved by your committee before you are eligible to apply to internship.) I know the OP said she took time off, but did she totally forget that she had a dissertation to complete within ~4-yrs time (e.g., after 3-yrs coursework)? I agree. Something doesn't add up here. @NBAjunkie, maybe you should tell her to join/log on here herself for a genuine anonymous discussion. MamaPhD is correct:
Otherwise, we're all indulging in a bit of speculation here - and that would include the plausible but unsubstantiated idea that the situation is being misrepresented.
This sounds like such a tough situation because if she goes through all this to get reinstated to finish her dissertation, she still has to defend it against these folks who may no longer be in her corner, now. If she goes the legal route, perhaps she could consider the request to switch her dissertation chair as well because you are not finished until your committee approves your final work. And if she is stuck, at say, dissertation collection, then she still has a ways to go.

If it were me, I would not give up, keep working on the dissertation (as not to appear like I gave up), and just look for any discrepancies from what was done and what the program's manual states. I would also use all my newly-found skills to do this in an upbeat manner, so as not to piss anyone off....which at this point, seems an impossible feat.

I also agree with editing the schools names out of the original post. A dose of healthy paranoia can be helpful.

Good luck to her. :luck:
 
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MCParent

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Risky in what sense? I don't see why it's controversial to suggest consulting an ombudsperson. Otherwise, we're all indulging in a bit of speculation here - and that would include the plausible but unsubstantiated idea that the situation is being misrepresented.
Probably your use of the word "fact" made me read your post a bit differently than you intended, then. I wouldn't interpret anything secondhand like this as "fact." A lot else could be happening in the situation.
 
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Ollie123

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Probably your use of the word "fact" made me read your post a bit differently than you intended, then. I wouldn't interpret anything secondhand like this as "fact." A lot else could be happening in the situation.
True - we never know the full story here. I agree a lawyer may be the best option. In the grand scheme of the cost of the education, the cost of that will be a drop in the bucket. There may be little that can be done though if the university has followed its own written policies.
 

MamaPhD

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Probably your use of the word "fact" made me read your post a bit differently than you intended, then. I wouldn't interpret anything secondhand like this as "fact." A lot else could be happening in the situation.
Oh, that was just careless language on my part. Not that hearsay on an Internet forum has any weight, but I've just edited out the whole sentence. Thanks for noting that.
 
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ClinicalABA

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A quick search of the department website clearly lays out the time lined for completion, as well as the procedures for requesting a waiver of university policy if there "are extreme documented extenuating circumstances" that impact your timely completion of the program. Consequences for not completing on time, as well as procedures for requesting a waiver (and that's form the university, not just the department) are unambiguously spelled out. I'm guessing that if she didn't request the waiver prior to the deadline (clearly stated as 8 years from the begin date of the first Psy.D. course), she doesn't have any grounds on a legal or procedural basis. Basically, the policies clearly say finish on time or you're kicked out, unless you you have extreme extenuating circumstances and follow the appropriate procedures for requesting a waiver of university policy. We know she didn't finish on time. Did she do the other stuff? If not, she might be out of luck (or relying on special dispensation from people from whom she may not have a great relationship). Tough position, but should not be a surprise base on the publicly available policies governing such matters. Unless the policies themselves (or the methods for disseminating them to the students) are illegal or insufficient in some manner, I'm not sure there's any legal case, as it appears, from the info provided by the OP, that the program staff acted in line with the policy.
 
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I am not a person that is particularly sensitive to this sort of stuff but I feel that this frame of mind is very stigmatizing. BPD is already a maligned diagnoses that increases the difficulty in providing effective interventions for people that are often most in need. I hope that if any field can be most allied with reducing the stigma in healthcare about individuals diagnosed with BPD, it would be clinical psychologists. My goal is not to attack or insinuate that you are somehow poor at being a mental health professional. This post just happens to be an example how people unintentionally reinforce stereotyping and marginalization.

Lets remember that the term borderline is almost an archaic artifact that no longer fits the modern day conceptualization of individuals that are diagnosed with BPD.

Sorry for the detour.
I think that was a helpful detour as I, to be quite frank, believe that it is unprofessional to use disparaging and non-specific phrasing or jargon to such as Borderline-ness or the oft heard borderliney. It bothers me enough when I hear it from the other staff, we need to have a higher standard.
 

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Hi all,

I appreciate your advice on the edits, and how she may proceed going forward. I also agree that it's tough to gauge a post like this based on my brief accounting of it. She did not, in fact, submit a request for extension on time, which is how I fear she may not have a case if they do dismiss her. I do believe legal counsel may be a good idea, and she has been nothing but active in attempting to demonstrate that she's able to proceed and complete dissertation in a timely manner. She has not collected data yet but is ready to proceed with IRB to get there. Essentially, yeah, I think policy may not be in her favor, and legally school has acted in accordance. I suppose my original inquiry was, would an attorney help or hinder at this stage in the game, before the Provost reviews and makes final decision on her standing with the school.

Thanks all! Any additional advice will be passed along. She spoke with our agencies attorney today, who did say that proceeding legally at this time may make her look like a trouble maker, but that if she can't even GET a meeting with the provost before hand, that it may not hurt.
 

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I concur with the 'Yikes.'

but that if she can't even GET a meeting with the provost before hand
She NEEDS that meeting with the Provost and/or their campus ombudsperson (as suggested above), to explain her situation in person. Because it seems all other doors have already been shut.

Please gives us an update, NBAjunkie. I'm curious as to how she will handle this, and how her university concludes this situation, as well.
 

MamaPhD

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...she has been nothing but active in attempting to demonstrate that she's able to proceed and complete dissertation in a timely manner. She has not collected data yet but is ready to proceed with IRB to get there.
Those two statements are hard to reconcile.

I don't blame her for using every remedy available to her, as she has nothing further to lose at this point. But those sound like long odds to me.
 

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(1) she has been nothing but active in attempting to demonstrate that she's able to proceed and complete dissertation in a timely manner.
(2)She has not collected data yet but is ready to proceed with IRB to get there
Those two things don't go together that well, honestly. I understand your desire to not have your friend be mistreated, which definitely DOES happen, sometimes, but universities cannot do things against their own policies. Better in her favor would be if she would be able to demonstrate (via emails, etc.) that she had attempted to move forward on this for years but was held back by a non-responsive advisor. Otherwise, it really is not our job to cattle-prod students into doing the required work.
 

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Otherwise, it really is not our job to cattle-prod students into doing the required work.
True. With that said, perhaps her university could give her options on how she can finish elsewhere, if it is possible.

Man, you'd think filing an extension would be a priority when there is so much at stake - Gosh, huge forewarning to future SDN readers. I just remember on internship applications being asked if you are in good-standing in your program. Rhetorically, how do you go from good-standing to kicked out in one year?
 
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"Opinions?"

If I were attacking it, given that her advisor/chair/all everything has turned on her, if she can document that he didn't communicate or was an obstruction at all to completion of the process, I'd consider that angle. It's difficult to justify if she hasn't even submitted the IRB yet. I'd also play up the financial hardship angle as this program is an absolute ripoff even without not getting the degree.

http://laverne.edu/tuition/graduate/

I hope, by the way, if I'm looking at the right faculty member page, that isn't his entire publication record. Embarrassing.
 
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psychRA

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Hello,
have you ever heard of anyone being dismissed who's done with their coursework, more than halfway done with their pre-doc internship, ready to begin their post-doc, done with comps, and just has dissertation to go, which even that is halfway done?
Since you mentioned that she hasn't collected her data yet (and maybe hasn't gone through IRB yet, either?) it sounds like the dissertation is a very substantial obstacle. Without knowing anything about her project, I don't see how it would be possible to collect sufficient data, do thorough analyses, write the dissertation, and pull together the defense committee in time to start her postdoc, especially since she's currently on internship. Her program may be reluctant to approve an extension because, at this point, it's just not possible for her to finish in time and offering an extension will just be setting her up for failure.
 

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Those two things don't go together that well, honestly. I understand your desire to not have your friend be mistreated, which definitely DOES happen, sometimes, but universities cannot do things against their own policies. Better in her favor would be if she would be able to demonstrate (via emails, etc.) that she had attempted to move forward on this for years but was held back by a non-responsive advisor. Otherwise, it really is not our job to cattle-prod students into doing the required work.
Yup. 8 years is a VERY long time to not even have an IRB submitted. It may be different if she can document that she sent her advisor a draft of the proposal and has been reminding him every 2 weeks for the last 3 years, but barring that....this does not look good and they are likely well within their rights to remove her from the program. Doesn't mean that doesn't suck for her, doesn't mean you or anyone else shouldn't feel bad for her. It also doesn't mean the university won't cave in and grant an exception to avoid bad press/lawsuits. With nothing to lose, I'd tell her to go for it. As an outsider, I do not expect a positive outcome.
 

Ollie123

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"

I hope, by the way, if I'm looking at the right faculty member page, that isn't his entire publication record. Embarrassing.
Does this mean I get to be a department chair when I hit 150 citations?

;)
 
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Seconding all the things already said. 8 years is a bit tight for a stringent cutoff for completion time, but if she hasn't submitted IRB paperwork yet...even if she's got an incredibly easy/fast data collection method (say Mechanical Turk, only interested in nonclinical adults), you're looking at a few months for IRB to review things, likely come back with revisions, re-submit, get approval, and do data collection. Then probably a month or two to analyze the data (again, this would vary a lot depending on the complexity of the data, but she's also on internship full-time now, right? So I can't imagine she'll be able to blaze through it), and then a few months or longer to write it (again, I'm estimating bare minimum amount of time if she's incredibly fast and can dedicate a lot of time to this, neither of which seem very likely). It's one thing to let someone take 8.5 years instead of 8 to finish, it's another to be talking about 9-10-11 years to finish in a program with strict requirements. Things don't look good for your friend from where I sit, sadly :(

That being said, I don't think your friend got into this situation by herself - in my program at least, there are many points along the way in which you are evaluated on your progress, and remediation plans would have been drawn up substantially before she applied to internship, let alone started. It's unfortunate that her advisor/chair/DCT have contributed to the situation, whether it be through "benign" neglect or some other reason. IMHO, a DCT shouldn't sign off on an application for internship unless you've made good progress on the dissertation, particularly if you're getting close to the end of the clock for time to complete the program as a whole.

Sorry for your friend, OP, and while the situation doesn't sound good, I do hope things ultimately work out. That's a lot of time and debt to have no degree to show for it :( Perhaps, if things don't go well at her present university, she can find another faculty supervisor at another program willing to supervise her on her dissertation in order to complete the degree? Either way, I imagine it's going to impinge on her ability to do the postdoc at your internship site. Best case scenario, she somehow wins her appeal and is able to be re-instated; it still just doesn't seem like there's enough time to submit IRB, collect data, analyze data, and write up a dissertation between now (we're approaching May!) and the start of postdoc in a few months.
 

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..a DCT shouldn't sign off on an application for internship unless you've made good progress on the dissertation, particularly if you're getting close to the end of the clock for time to complete the program as a whole.
This stuck out for me too, though it may not be required for CAPIC. I don't know the in's and out's of their application process,, so YMMV.
 
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My question is why did it take 7 years to get to internship? In our PsyD program, we applied for internship after three years of coursework and practicums and had to have proposal submitted and approved before internship. IRB and data collection could come later which can be a challenge when you move for internship, but that was a personal issue. :oops:
 

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Published program data from your friend's program (http://sites.laverne.edu/psychology/files/2014/10/IRC-20-2014.pdf) reveals an almost 20% attrition rate between 2008-2015. Your friend will have some company if she doesn't get her degree. That suggest that the program has some issues either with supporting their student through graduation or with admitting students who are unlikely to be successful. Interestingly, the admitted ~20 students per year 2008-2012, but only 10 in 2013 and 3 in 2014. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but something is going on there.
 

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Published program data from your friend's program (http://sites.laverne.edu/psychology/files/2014/10/IRC-20-2014.pdf) reveals an almost 20% attrition rate between 2008-2015. Your friend will have some company if she doesn't get her degree. That suggest that the program has some issues either with supporting their student through graduation or with admitting students who are unlikely to be successful. Interestingly, the admitted ~20 students per year 2008-2012, but only 10 in 2013 and 3 in 2014. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but something is going on there.
Being pretty familiar with this is program...students like the one in the OP's post are the reason why recent cohorts have been small. The program got a wake-up call and realized that many admitted students were content with securing CAPIC sites and stalling on dissertation. This reflects badly on everyone. I would say the current trend reflects a change for the better. Get your dissertation done.
 
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Last APA site visit at my university one of the things the APA was looking at more closely (along with % able to get into internships) was years to complete degree. They indicated that accreditation was going to become more difficult for those programs that allow students to take forever, so many students received letters saying they had to complete by the end of the academic year.

No reason it should take that long for a dissertation and data really should be collected by or during the first part of internship. I was 6 months abd after internship but my chair quit in the middle and my non-research oriented new chair didn't know stats and my co-chair decided to use my dissertation as a policy paper so completely changed everything around.

Just part of life, the individual should appeal though!
 
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