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Synopsis of the Program

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Full-time graduate students are required to take at least 9 credits each semester/ distributed among research and courses/seminars. Beyond these requirements, students are expected to participate in weekly Cognitive brown bags. 

Required Courses/Seminars (10 courses + Attending Colloquia):

1.    Statistics (PSYC​860: Statistics); and PSYC862: Statistics II)

2.    Professional Development Seminar (PSYC867

3.    PBS Colloquium (PSYC800) – Students are expected to attend Department Colloquia

4.    At least five (5) courses (taught by full-time faculty in the Cognitive Area; these include topics in attention, perception, memory, language, cognition and emotion, cognitive development and neuroimaging methods) 

At least two additional graduate seminars/courses that are electives. These can be in any area of Psychology (including Cognitive or additional Statistics courses), or any area related to the student's field of study in other graduate Departments at the University (e.g., Linguistics, Computer Science, Neuroscience/Biology, Education). Elective course decisions are made in consultation with one's advisor and must have advisor approval. Students are discouraged from taking more than 2 course/seminars in a semester so that they can maintain a steady focus on their research throughout their graduate career.​

First Year

Students begin working in a lab with the goal of developing a first year research project with their advisor. The minimum of 9 credits per semester includes Statistics (first semester and second semester), 1-2 required courses/seminars, and research credit. During their first year, all students engage in a research project. Results from the first year project are presented in a special Cognitive Brown Bag in the Spring semester of the first year. During this brown bag, students give a brief presentation of their work followed by general questions from the audience. After the discussion, everyone but the faculty and the student leave the room and the student discusses his or her project in greater depth. Students write an APA-style paper to submit to their committee by the date specified in the Graduate Handbook. Based on required course readings and general readings for research, the student should begin thinking about the topic for their qualifying exam (this takes place in Year 3 and is described in a later section). ​Information about Graduate College credit requirements can be obtained online:

Second Year

By the end of Year 2, the student should have completed at least 4 courses offered by Cognitive faculty. By the beginning of Year 2, in consultation with his/her advisor, the student will decide on the topic of their paper for the qualifying exam. The first part is a take-home review paper (similar to a Psych Review or Psych Bulletin article) on a topic that is central to the student’s area of interest. Alternatively, students can choose to write an NRSA grant on a topic central to the student's area of interest.  The second part is an Oral defense of the paper in which the student and the Cognitive faculty discuss issues and ideas that are raised by the paper. To be in good standing, a student must pass both the take-home (the written paper) and the oral defense of the paper by the specified deadline in Year 3 (Dates are shown in the Graduate Student Handbook).​

Third-Fourth or Fifth Year

After passing the qualifying exam (paper and oral), students write their dissertation proposal, and form a dissertation committee with the approval of their advisor. There is a strong expectation that the proposal will be written and approved by the end of the third year. The committee membership must be in accordance with the rules of the Graduate College.The student writes a dissertation proposal that must be approved by the committee (the committee reads the proposal and then convene, at which point the student presents the proposal for discussion).Following approval of the dissertation proposal by the committee, the student is admitted to candidacy and conducts their dissertation research (paperwork for admittance to candidacy must be filed with the Graduate College to change the student's official status). When the research is complete, students write their dissertation, and after advisor approval they submit the written dissertation to their dissertation committee. An oral dissertation defense is then scheduled at 3 least weeks following submission of the dissertation to committee, to provide enough time for the committee to study the document.

Note. Once the 10-course requirement is complete, students can opt to take additional courses/seminars that are particularly relevant to their research goals -- this must be discussed with their advisor. At this point emphasis should be fully on research and related reading/writing.

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Synopsis of the Program