Program Requirements

The following is a summary of requirements for the Cognitive Science doctoral program. Please consult the Psychology Department Graduate Student Handbook, the Cognitive Science Program Handbook, and the Graduate Bulletin for further details.

Overview of Program Requirements & Milestones

The final page of our program’s handbook contains a table summarizing the program requirements and the expected timeline of completing those requirements.


Course Requirements and Descriptions

Students in the Cognitive Science Ph.D. program are required to complete at least 72 hours; 41 of these hours are in the cognitive concentration, and the remaining 21 hours are for dissertation work.

Research and Quantitative Core (10 Hours)

Research and Quantitative Core courses
Course Code Course Title Description
PSY 8214 Quantitative Methods in Psychology II Advanced experimental design and methods with emphasis on Analysis of Variance
PSY 8803 Advanced Quantitative Methods Study of advanced analytic and multivariate quantitative methods applied to contemporary problems and research
PSY 8513 Psychological Research Methods Practicum in the techniques of planning and execution of various areas of psychological research

Cognitive Science Core (6 Hours)

Cognitive Science Core courses
Course Code Course Title  Description
PSY 8703 Advanced Cognitive Science The science of intelligent systems as understood through the contributions of psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, anthropology, neuroscience, and philosophy
PSY 8713 Issues and Methods in Cognitive Science Exploration of theoretical issues and research methods in current cognitive science

Cognitive Science Integration (6 Hours)

Cognitive Science Integration courses
Course Code Course Title Description
PSY 8723 Cognitive Models of Skill Introduction to cognitive modeling, with a focus on computational models of skill acquisition and expert skill
PSY 8773 Distributed Representations in Cognition An introduction to computational modeling of cognition with a focus on computational models that use distributed representations

Cognitive Science Integration (6 Hours from the Following List)

Cognitive Science Integration courses
Course Code Course Title Description
PSY 8743 Perception and Attention An advanced survey of classic and current research on human perception and attention including the underlying neural and psychological mechanisms
PSY 8753 Advanced Human Memory An advanced survey of classic and current research on human memory from the biology of memory to the neuroscience of memory
PSY 8763 Expertise and Cognitive Skill Acquisition An advanced survey of the scientific literature on human acquisition of cognitive skills and expertise with a focus on theories that address human performance

Advanced Graduate Seminars (6 Hours)

Advanced Graduate Seminars courses
Course Code Course Title Description
PSY 8653 Applied Cognitive Reading Seminar Seminar exploring current topics in Applied Psychology and Cognitive Science

Research and Professional Skills (12 Hours)

Research and Professional Skills courses
Course Code Course Title Description
PSY 8683 Cognitive Science Research Skills An introduction to computational and writing research skills necessary for a research career in cognitive science
PSY 8693 Advanced Cognitive Science Research Skills A survey of advanced computational and writing research skills necessary for a research career in cognitive science
PSY 8783 Cognitive Science Professional Skills An introduction to the professional skills necessary for a successful research career in cognitive science
PSY 8793 Advanced Cognitive Science Professional Skills Advanced professional skills necessary for a research career in cognitive science including initiating a lab, establishing collaborations, and securing a research position

Cognitive Science Seminar (5 Hours)

Cognitive Science Seminar courses
Course Code Course Title Description
PSY 8713 Applied Cognitive Science Research Seminar (ACCESS) Presentations of research in applied cognitive science

Dissertation (21 Hours)

Dissertation courses
Course Code Corse Description
PSY 9000 Dissertation Hours

First Year Project (FYP) Requirements

During the first year, students complete a research project as a demonstration of research proficiency. The purpose of the FYP is to ensure that students master the necessary research skills early in the program, which will allow them to develop as independent researchers.

FYP Committee
Within the first 6 weeks of entering the program, students form a committee consisting of at least three faculty members. This committee is responsible for approval and evaluation of the FYP.
FYP Proposal
The FYP proposal is due to students’ committees and the Program Director by 5:00PM on the last day of instruction in the first semester. Once the committee approves the proposal, the student is allowed to collect data on that project and begin writing the report.
FYP Report
The FYP report is due to committees and the Program Director by 5:00 PM on the first day of instruction of the third semester.

Second Year Project (SYP) Requirements

During the second year, students complete a Second Year Project, which, ideally, will continue the line of research initiated during the FYP. This document should be of sufficient quality to be submitted to a journal for publication.

SYP Committee
Within the first 6 weeks of the third semester, students form a committee consisting of at least three faculty members. This committee may or may not be the same as the FYP committee; again, the committee is responsible for approval and evaluation of the SYP.
SYP Proposal
The SYP proposal is due to students’ committees and the Program Director by 5:00PM on the last day of instruction in the third semester. Once the committee approves the proposal, the student is allowed to collect data on that project and begin writing the report.
SYP Report
The SYP report is due to committees and the Program Director by 5:00 PM on the first day of instruction of the third year (fifth semester).

The Specialty Exam

The specialty exam consists of a written review paper in the style of a Psychological Bulletin review article. Research must be integrated around a central theme, must provide a critical review, and must suggest avenues for future research. The exam is due at the end of the third academic year in the program.


The Dissertation

Doctoral Committee
Students form a committee consisting of at least four members of the graduate faculty. The committee chair must be a core faculty member of the Applied Cognitive Science Program. At least half of the committee must be members of the Psychology Department, and at least one member must be from outside the department.
The Oral Comprehensive Exam (Dissertation Proposal)
Students set a meeting to present their dissertation proposal to their committee; during this meeting, the student and committee meet to discuss the dissertation proposal and make any necessary changes to experiment methodology. Once the Oral Comprehensive Exam is passed, the student can begin data collection on the proposed research.
The Dissertation Defense
After the dissertation research and document are complete, the student and the committee meet again. After the dissertation is successfully defended, the student will make necessary changes, format the document, and submit it for the fulfillment of the degree.