The Cognitive Psychology Doctoral Program trains psychologists in the scientific study of human and animal information processing.
Our program focuses on training scientists who are experts in research and theory in modern cognitive psychology. In particular, our program provides training in the study of animal cognition, attention, auditory perception, categorization, cognitive neuroscience, computational modeling, development, eye movements and cognition, language, learning, memory, motor control and music psychology. The program also provides advanced instruction in statistics, experimental design and contemporary scientific methods used to study mental processes (e.g., eye tracking, evoked potentials and a variety of behavioral methods).
The program’s training model is sequential, cumulative and increasingly complex as a student advances because the program is designed to produce independent scholars. The education and training objectives of the program are addressed through an interrelated program of academic course work and research experience. Students are involved in empirical research continuously from the time of their arrival in the program. Program unity is achieved through core experience required of all cognitive students. Diversity is also encouraged and available through specialty training, electives and research activities in the research laboratories of faculty outside of the primary mentor.
Students also participate in other less structured activities, including colloquia, cognitive Brown Bag presentations, professional association activities, conference presentations, interdisciplinary campus events, department governance and peer advising. Thus, students not only complete a rigorous academic program but also become members of the psychological community interacting with program faculty, professional social psychologists outside the program and fellow students on both scholarly and personal levels.
Objective 1-A: All students will demonstrate skill in critical review and evaluation of the current corpus of knowledge available on the problem of interest.
Expected Competencies: This will be evidenced by: (1) successful completion of courses that involve literature review activities, (2) successful completion of two qualifying projects (conducted outside of the student’s home laboratory), (3) a pre-dissertation year project, (4) PhD dissertation proposals and final products that demonstrate accurate and effective review of relevant literature, and (5) participation in manuscript preparation activities.
Objective 1-B: Students will exhibit competence in statistics and research methods.
Expected Competencies: Competence in this arena will be evidenced by successful completion of two required courses in statistics and of two qualifying projects, a pre-dissertation project, and a PhD dissertation project involving sound research methods and data-analysis procedures.
Objective 1-C: All students will demonstrate skill in planning and conducting increasingly independent theoretical and empirical research. This research will be of high quality and completed in a timely manner.
Expected Competencies: Evidence of competence in meeting this objective includes students' successful completion of: (1) the two qualifying projects by the end of the 4th semester of graduate study, (2) the pre-dissertation project by the end of the 6th semester, (3) the PhD dissertation proposal, and (4) the PhD dissertation defense.
Objective 1-D: Students are encouraged to collaborate with cognitive and non-non-cognitive faculty on other research beyond the qualifying and pre-dissertation projects and PhD dissertation.
Expected Competencies: This participation may include paid research assistant positions or unpaid work as an assistant or collaborator. Students are expected to show evidence of research activities including helping plan, execute, supervise, and/or analyze research, and preparing research publications and presentations.
Objective 1-E: Students are encouraged to disseminate the results of their theoretical and empirical work to the profession and broader community.
Expected Competencies: Students can display competencies related to this objective in a variety of ways, including student presentations at regional and national conferences, publication in professional outlets, presentation of workshops, and preparation of technical reports. In addition, all students are required to present their qualifying and pre-dissertation projects at Cognitive Brown Bags attended by students and faculty.
Objective 1-F: All students will demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of diversity issues in research.
Expected Competencies: Competencies for this objective are evidenced by (1) successful completion of courses that incorporate information and discussion on diversity and (2) student sensitivity to these issues in their theoretical and empirical research.
Objective 1-G: All students will demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues in research.
Expected Competencies: Students are expected to increase their knowledge of, and sensitivity to issues surrounding the responsible conduct of research with human subjects, improve their ability to make ethical and legal choices in the face of conflicts involving scientific research with human subjects, to become knowledgeable about the regulations, policies, statutes, and guidelines that govern the conduct of research with human subjects, and gain an understanding and knowledge of the federal regulations and guidelines that apply to cognitive research.
Objective 2-A: All students will demonstrate knowledge of modern scientific approaches to research on human and animal information processing.
Expected Competencies: Students will perform successfully in required courses in these areas and will demonstrate understanding of the scientific foundations of cognitive psychology.
Objective 2-B: All students will demonstrate knowledge of specialized areas of cognitive psychology.
Expected Competencies: Students will successfully complete several cognitive electives, and they will attend research presentations, workshops, and seminars relevant to cognitive psychology.
Objective 2-C: All students will demonstrate understanding of ethics and professional issues.
Expected Competencies: Students will successfully complete the required cognitive courses into which these issues are integrated.
Objective 3-A: All students will document knowledge of diverse areas of psychology.
Expected Competencies: These competencies are evidenced by successful completion of departmental distribution requirements that entail completion of courses in each of the areas of the department, namely, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social-personality and clinical, and by successful completion of a graduate course in the history and systems of psychology.
Objective 3-B: Students' PhD dissertation projects will reflect appreciation of diverse areas of psychology.
Expected Competencies: Students’ PhD dissertation proposals, oral defenses and written projects will include satisfactory coverage of the areas of psychological sciences that are relevant to the research topic addressed by the dissertation.
In addition to the above activities, in which students are socialized into academic cognitive psychology, they are expected to behave in a professional manner.
Objective 4-A: All students and faculty will attend a Cognitive Brown Bag on Current Issues in Cognitive Psychology.
Expected Competencies: Attendance at the Cognitive Brown Bag is mandatory for students.
Objective 4-B: Students' progress through the program will reflect active participation, timely progress, and satisfactory performance in all aspects of the cognitive program.
Expected Competencies: Specific rates of progress will reflect students' individual training needs, although the program is structured to allow completion in four to six years.
Objective 4-C: Students are expected to participate in professional activities at the Department, University, community, and professional levels.
Expected Competencies: Competencies for this objective include involvement in professional organizations, membership on Department, University, or professional organization committees, participation in review activities, presentations, publications, grant writing, and teaching.