UMass Psychology

Research & Trng

Formal Requirements in Cognitive Psychology

A student entering the Ph.D. program without prior graduate level experience ideally takes four years to complete the Ph.D. However, the time required depends on many factors including the extent to which a minor program is pursued, internships are completed, and a host of other reasons. The actual course requirements are not extensive, but many course offerings are available. The bulk of your time will be spent learning cognitive psychology by doing research and teaching about it.

The course requirements include:

  • a minimum of two semesters in statistics (Psychology 640 and 641 taken in the first year)
  • a two-semester sequence in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and computational modeling (Psychology 617 and 618, also taken in the first year) 
  • department distribution or specialization requirements These are generally satisfied by 617/618 plus two additional courses in different areas of the Department, or by proposing a "Core concentration in lieu of distribution requirement" plan such as a plan in neuroscience and behavior, in statistics, or in cognitive science. 
  • participation in the weekly Cognitive Seminar (Psychology 891) from the second year until the comprehensives examination is passed. The topic of the seminar varies from semester to semester, so that over any given three-year period, it covers all major areas in cognitive psychology. 
  • attendance and participation in the weekly Cognitive Colloquium (Psychology 893) which hosts local and outside speakers, allows for discussion of current topics in research and professional development, and provides a forum where faculty and students present and discuss their current research findings.

In addition, numerous other developmental, departmental, and university courses in other graduate programs may be taken as electives. Our faculty and students participate actively in the UMass Cognitive Science Initiative.

In reality, as you will discover if you join us, you learn the most about cognitive psychology by actually doing it, in the UMass laboratories. Your coursework makes you into a broadly-educated psychologist, but your achievements in the laboratory make you into a recognized member of the world-wide cognitive psychology community.

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University of Massachusetts Amherst

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