Program Requirements and Curriculum

The following serves as a guide for students to complete the Cognitive Psychology Doctoral Program successfully.

Requirements for Degree Completion

  • A minimum of 72 credit hours, including core cognitive coursework, electives and departmental breadth requirements.
  • Completion of a pre-dissertation project with your primary advisor. The pre-dissertation project culminates in a written report of an empirical project that is of publishable quality in an academic journal.
  • Completion of two qualifying projects with a mentor other than your primary advisor. One of these projects must be a publishable empirical project (on a smaller scale than the pre-dissertation project). The other qualifying project may involve the development of a new research skill (e.g. learning a programming language), or a publishable literature review.
  • Presentation of ongoing research in the cognitive area’s BrownBag talk series.
  • Doctoral dissertation and oral defense of the dissertation.

Faculty Mentorship and Supervision

Our program fosters collegial and intellectually stimulating interactions between students and faculty, in order to prepare students to become the next generation of cognitive scientists. The graduate student’s primary faculty contact is with his or her mentor, however, our program is designed to facilitate interaction with a broad range of faculty members outside classes. Students form an Individualized Mentoring Committee in the first year, which is a committee of three faculty members: the advisor and two others (one of whom must be from the cognitive area). In addition, students complete two projects that are mentored by faculty members other than the primary advisor (these are termed Qualifying Projects). 

Completion Timeline

Most students finish the program in five or six years; the timetable below is based on a five-year plan for completion. Occasionally, students have completed the program in less than five years.

First Year Second Year Third Year Fourth Year Fifth Year
  • Formation of the Individualized Mentoring Committee (advisor plus two other faculty members, at least one being cognitive), which will oversee student progress until the dissertation. Students meet with this committee at least once per year.
  • Begin conducting research with their primary advisor, in preparation for the pre-dissertation project. Most students have a pre-dissertation project proposed, with pilot data collected, by the end of the year.
  • Students typically take three classes per semester, one class in statistics, plus two others consisting of core cognitive classes and breadth requirements.
  • Students typically do not present in the area Brown Bag during their first year.