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Cognitive Science Requirements

*The following requirements and deadlines apply to students in the Cognitive Science Area.*


Cognitive picture

All students take Statistics (501/502), First Year Lectures, the Seminar on Human Diversity, plus 3 breadth courses in the Psychology Department outside of the Area.  With the approval of their advisor and Area Head, students may petition the Graduate Committee to take breadth courses outside the Psychology Department. 

To obtain the optional Advanced Certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience use 3 of the following courses for your Breadth Courses:

PSY 610/620 Current Issues in Brain Imaging

PSY 561 Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience I

PSY 562 Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience II

PSY 565 Functional Neuroanatomy

PSY 560 Cognitive Neuroscience

PSY 610/620 Seminars in Selected Topics: Hormones & Behavior

PSY 610/620 Seminars in Selected Topics: Molecular Psychology

PSY 610/620 Neuroscience: Applications in Psychology


Students must complete three courses within the Area (in addition to the departmental breadth courses).  Typically, students will select courses from Theories of  Attention, Memory, Psycholinguistics, Cognitive Aging, and Judgment and Decision Making.  However, students may petition Area faculty to fulfill this requirement with other than typical courses.  Students should consult with their advisors and the Area Head before enrolling in an alternative course.

*Students must also attend the weekly Cognitive Science Brown Bag (register for Psy 583 or 584, Experimental Psychology Colloquium, 0-3 credits).*


This is the write-up of research conducted during the first year, including at least one experiment.  It can be incorporated into the Second Year Paper, which would then have to include substantial additional research.  Approval of the paper is required by two members of the Area faculty.  The deadline to submit a copy of the paper to both members of the committee is June 15th of the first year.  The deadline for having the First Year Paper approved by both readers, possibly following requested revisions, is July 1st of the first year.


In the second and fourth years, all Area students deliver a 10-15 minute conference-style oral presentation.  This presentation is based on research conducted to date. 


This paper reports empirical research in a form suitable for submission to a refereed journal, satisfying a Departmental requirement.  The paper requires approval by two members of the Area faculty.  Deadlines and policies regarding the Second Year Paper parallel those for the first year paper.  The first draft is due to the two readers no later than June 15th of the second year, and approval by the readers must be obtained by July 1st of the second year.  This requirement is met only after the appropriate paperwork is filed with the Graduate Office. Departmental policy is that paperwork must be completed in the Psychology Department Graduate Office no later than the first day of classes of the student's third year. 


The Specialties requirement is designed to demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge in one's field.  As such, it involves both a written and an oral component.  Approval of both is required by a committee that includes at least two members of the Area faculty and one faculty member from a different area of the Department.  The written component, which is expected to include a sufficiently broad analysis of the literature in one's area of study, is due August 15th* after the third year.  The written component can be fulfilled in one of two ways:

1) A literature review demonstrating a broad reading and deep understanding of one's field.

2) A sole-author or first-author empirical paper that consists of research that did not contribute to the Second Year Paper and that includes a sufficiently rich literature review.  By the 8/15 deadline, this paper must be both approved by all committee members as suitable for publication in a good journal and must also be submitted for publication.

We strongly recommend that you consult your advisor as early as feasible in order to decide which of these options would be most appropriate.

The oral component of the Specialties requirement can be fulfilled as a Cognitive Science Area brown bag talk or as a committee meeting scheduled for this purpose.  The Specialties requirement is met only after all appropriate paperwork is filed with the Graduate Office.


Upon approval of Area faculty, students advance to candidacy following completion of required course work, the Specialties requirement, completion of two SDIs and satisfactory progress in research.


*Note:  The Graduate School of the College of Arts and Sciences requires that students advance to candidacy no less than one academic year before completing the degree.  Students who advance August 15th of a given year would not be eligible to receive the Ph.D. until May of the following year.


A written dissertation proposal must be approved, following oral presentation and discussion by the Dissertation Committee.  This committee must include at least two members of the Area faculty, one member from a different area of the Department, and one member from outside the Department.  To complete the degree in May, students should arrange to defend their dissertation proposals by early Fall of the previous year.  During the period after advancement to candidacy, students must continue to receive satisfactory evaluations of research progress. 


In accordance with Departmental requirements.  Note that the meeting must be scheduled and the abstract submitted to the Graduate Office and Graduate School at least 3 weeks in advance of the defense date.


The Department requires two semesters of Substantial Direct Instruction.


Students are expected to present their research at least once a year.  These presentations are made in appropriate friendly settings (e.g., Brown Bag). 


Students must achieve favorable evaluation by the Area faculty at the end of each semester. Students are expected to meet the deadlines for each requirement (e.g., First Year Paper, Second Year Paper, Specialties).  Failure to do so without prior approval by one's committee members may result in an official warning or in the student being recommended for removal from the program. 

The following is an example of a possible course of study that would maintain students in good academic standing and position them to complete their graduate studies in five years.  Note that students should conduct research and register for appropriate research credits during each semester.  Also, this sample schedule includes only the required minimum of courses - students should plan to add appropriate additional courses in consultation with their advisors.



          Fall:                First-year lectures, Statistics 501, one course, plan research

                                    and conduct literature review in that area

       Spring:          Seminar on Human Diversity, Statistics 502, one course


          Fall:                       Two courses, continue conducting research

        Spring:                  Two courses, submit second-year project

        Fall or Spring:   Complete first SDI


          Fall:                        Work on Specialties, continue research

          Spring:                 Submit and defend Specialties, advance to candidacy

          Fall or Spring: Complete second SDI


                                  Submit dissertation proposal, have proposal meeting,

                                  conduct dissertation research

                                  Submit dissertation, pass oral defense