The Cognitive psychology graduate program (CPGP) seeks students with the intellectual potential, motivation and quantitative aptitude to engage in productive scholarship in a basic or applied area of interest.

Interdisciplinary training is also available in:

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Science
  • Aging and Cognition
  • Child Language
  • Quantitative Methods

The training program emphasizes the development of a broad based foundation in theory, research methods, technical skills, and quantitative analysis for application in a variety of basic and applied research settings. Areas of focus of current faculty include memory, cognitive development, language, perception, attention, aging and cognition. The faculty are listed below. Consult with them for further information.

(with recommended completion time)

Research Activity (Continuous)
Course Requirements (before Oral Comps)
Master's Thesis and Oral Defense (year 2 or 3)
Written preliminary examination (year 3 or 4)
FLORS (year 3 or 4)
Comprehensive Oral Exam (year 4 or 5)
Dissertation and Oral Defense (year 5 or 6)

Other occasions of evaluation that may be agreed upon are public oral presentations, as in the CPGP proseminar and at professional meetings, manuscripts submitted for publication, written examinations on particular topics preparatory to the oral comprehensive examination, consulting activities, performance as an intern, and so on. The student can expect timely feedback from his or her advisor and from other CPGP faculty members.

Each student will meet annually in the spring semester with their advisor in order to assess progress toward the degree. At these meetings all evaluative information about the student will be reviewed. The results of the meeting will be presented by the student's advisor to the faculty of the CPGP at it's annual student evaluation meeting. The director of CPGP will then inform the student, in writing, of his or her standing in the CPGP.


Statistics/Methods Core (12 units by end of third year)

PSYC 790: Statistics I
Elementary distribution theory; one-way analysis of variance, linear trends, contrasts, post hoc tests; simple regression and correlation; general linear model. Prerequisite: A beginning course in statistics and graduate standing, or consent of instructor. LEC

PSYC 791: Statistics III
Continuation of PSYC 790. Multiway analysis of variance for crossed, nested, and incomplete designs; analysis of covariance; multiple regression and correlation; general linear model. Prerequisite: PSYC 790 or consent of instructor. LEC

PSYC 982: Professional Issues
Lectures and discussion on issues in the conduct of a scientific career, with emphasis on practical topics of special importance in behavioral science. Topics will include the academic and scientific roles of behavioral scientists, establishing a research lab, communicating research findings, tenure processes, gender equity, ethical conduct, and good scientific citizenship. Discussions will highlight important case studies. (Same as SPLH 982.) LEC

PSYC 983: Methods
Inferential problems in experimental psychology. Prerequisite: PSYC 790 and PSYC 791 or consent of instructor. LEC

PSYC 990 Multivariate Analysis (3).
Introduction to use of the general linear model for analysis of behavioral and social data. Includes multivariate multiple regression, multivariate analysis of variance, multiple discriminant analysis, and canonical correlation. Primarily a lecture course; practical experience with packaged computer programs is included. Prerequisite: PSYC 790 and PSYC 791 or consent of instructor. LEC

Content Core (9 units by end of second year)

PSYC 723: Advanced Cognitive Psychology
Advanced cognitive psychology reviewing theories of pattern recognition, attention, working memory, language comprehension and problem solving. Emphasis will be placed upon the application of these theories to real-life situations. Prerequisite: PSYC 104 and six additional credit hours in psychology, or permission of the instructor. LEC

PSYC 725: Cognitive Neuroscience
A survey of the critical issues within cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. The course will provide information about neuronal physiology, functional neuroanatomy, and psychophysiological research methods. Human cognition and the neurophysiology that subserves the primary cognitive functions will be discussed. LEC

PSYC 737: Psycholinguistics
An in-depth examination of selected topics in psycholinguistics. Topics may include spoken language processing, written language processing, neurolinguistics, prosody, and syntactic processing. May be repeated for different topics. (Same as LING 737.) Prerequisite: PSYC 735/LING 735 or consent of instructor. LEC

PSYC 757: Perception
A consideration of the facts and theories of human perception. The emphasis will be on vision, although hearing, smell, pain, and other senses will also be discussed. Of particular concern is the question of perceptual modifiability and the response of the human observer to unusual sensory environments. Prerequisite: PSYC 104. LEC

PSYC 831: Human Memory
An in-depth analysis of current research and theory. Focus will be on experimental methodology in these areas. LEC

Breadth/Depth (12 units before Oral Comps) 
Breadth I, II
Depth I, II

Breadth/depth courses may come from a number of sources, depending upon student interests and advisor suggestions. Students are expected to use this requirement to gain additional specialization in two areas in addition to cognitive psychology. Examples include Quantitative (which will consist of courses in psychology and PRE), Language (including Linguistics or Speech-Language-Hearing), Neuroscience (including Psychology, Biology, or Pharmacology), Philosophy, or Computer Science. These courses can also be used to help fulfill FLORS requirements with "breadth goals" set out by the advisor.

Seminar (continuous enrollment)

PSYC 902
Seminar in experimental psychology to be conducted in rotation by the experimental psychologists on the staff and a monthly visiting experimental psychologist. LEC

The master's thesis process is intended to provide the student with the opportunity to serve an internship in their chosen lab, with their chosen advisor. The student is expected to demonstrate competence conducting laboratory research in their chosen area. As such, the master's thesis serves as a natural point to evaluate the suitability of a student for continued progress in the CPGP. Instances of substandard performance are expected to be rare. The thesis is evaluated by a committee consisting of three members, two of which must be from the CPGP. Thirty units of coursework are required before the granting of the master's degree.

Substandard performance during master's thesis research and master's thesis defense can include the following specific problems:

  • Failure by the student to show adequate active participation and effort during the completion of the necessary components of the research project including: research design, data collection, data analysis, and thesis manuscript preparation and revision.
  • Evidence (as provided in either the written document or in the oral defense of the thesis) that the student does not have a reasonable understanding of the theoretical and methodological issues addressed in the thesis project.
  • Evidence (as provided in either the written document or in the oral defense of the thesis) that the student does not have the research or analytical skills necessary for the completion of subsequent phases of the doctoral training program.

During the deliberation of the Master's Thesis Committee following the Master's Thesis defense, any committee member can propose that the Master's Candidate has failed to reach standard performance on the master's thesis project. At this juncture the committee will discuss the option of dismissal from the program. If the majority of the Master's Thesis Committee recommend (via hidden ballot) dismissal of the student from the program then there will be a meeting called of program faculty.

The student will be notified of this recommendation and allowed to appeal to the faculty prior to the final vote. Following discussion of the recommendation and a student's appeal, a vote will be held (again via hidden ballot). If a majority of the faculty present vote for dismissal of the student then academic dismissal will be effective at the end of the semester in which notification of dismissal is given by the program.

While the master's thesis is the opportunity for a student to demonstrate competence in conducting laboratory research, the written preliminary examination is the opportunity for the student to demonstrate their ability to become independent, critical thinkers in their chosen research area. The expectation is that students will demonstrate the ability to think carefully about the literature in their chosen field, and independently generate an evaluation of the field. They are further expected to be able to express themselves cogently in a written format. The written preliminary examination committee consists of three members, two of which must be from the CPGP.

Unlike other requirements, this requirement is required by the CPGP and not the Graduate School. Thus, the form of this written examination varies depending upon the desires of the student, their advisor and their written preliminary examination committee. Formats have included an extensive review paper of a chosen research area, multiple smaller papers on a variety of research areas, or a grant proposal which may be later submitted to a funding agency.

The Graduate School's FLORS requirement may be fulfilled by CPGP students in the following ways: The student may complete the foreign language option or the computing skills option as specified by the Graduate School. In consulting with his or her advisor and advisory committee, the student may satisfy the FLORS requirement by demonstrating competence in areas such as quantitative methods, including psychometrics or mathematical modeling of psychological processes, beyond the required course sequence in statistics and methodology; cognitive science beyond cognitive psychology, such as artificial intelligence, computer simulation of cognitive processes, or programming skills; or neuroscience techniques, such as brain imaging and mapping, or mastery of physiological data collection. Lastly, the student may propose a research skill not covered above by petitioning the CPGP, which, if it approves, will seek approval of the Department of Psychology and the Graduate School.

The Program recommends students entering without a Master's degree to take the oral comprehensive examination before the end of the fourth year. For those entering with a Master's degree, the recommendation is by the end of the third year. Prior to asking the Department to request the Graduate Division of the College to schedule the comprehensive examination, the student must (1) have taken all the required courses, (2) have been accredited with a research skill, (3) have obtained a Master's degree, (4) have passed the written preliminary examination or an approved alternative (CPGP) and (5) have met the residency requirements. The oral comprehensive examination committee is made up of five faculty members, at least one of whom is from outside the Department and represents the Graduate School. The exact form of the examination is not specified by the Graduate School, but is intended to cover the student's major area and should review the student's plans for a doctoral dissertation. The Program requires the student to prepare a written dissertation proposal and to distribute it to the committee prior to the scheduled examination. The committee shall judge the student's performance as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If the performance is judged to be unsatisfactory, the student may request another examination at the end of 90 days. This examination may not be taken more than three times. Unsatisfactory performance on the third occurrence means termination from the Program and loss of doctoral-student status in the Department.

After passing the oral comprehensive examination, the student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree. At this point, a dissertation committee of three members of the Graduate Faculty is formed, the Chairperson of which is authorized by the Graduate School to chair dissertations. From this point onward, the student must be continuously enrolled until the degree is earned. Enrollment must be 6 hours every semester and 3 hours in the summer until 18 hours of credit have been accumulated. Beyond this, the number of hours should reflect the workload of the faculty involved with the dissertation and the use of University resources.

The dissertation must be written in final form and orally defended before the dissertation committee, plus two additional members of the Graduate Faculty, within eight years. (Notes: (i) The final oral examination may not be scheduled until five months have elapsed since passing the oral comprehensive examination. (ii) The three-person dissertation committee must have formally approved the dissertation typescript as ready for defense prior to the scheduling of the final oral examination.)

The committees for a student's Master's thesis, oral comprehensive examination, and doctoral dissertation will ordinarily consist mostly of faculty members of the Program. Each such committee must include at least two faculty members of the program and be composed of a majority of faculty who are members of the department.

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