Carnegie Mellon University

Graduate Program Requirements

The basic graduate program for either Ph.D. consists of:

  • Relevant coursework in the areas of cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, social/health psychology to provide breadth in the areas of psychology best represented by our program.
  • Training in basic and advanced statistical and computational skills.
  • Teaching assistantships to provide trainees with mentored experiences in university-level instruction.
  • Professional development seminars to build professional skills and enable individualized pathway planning.
  • Training in the responsible conduct of research and reporting to train ethically responsible scientists who produce rigorous and reliable research.

Overview of the Requirements by Year

  • The student takes an orientation course during the first week of the semester, one or two core courses in cognitive, developmental, or social/health psychology, and a statistics or methods course.
  • The student chooses an advisor and committee.
  • A first-year research project is designed, conducted, and the results are written up as a research paper and presented in a spring brown bag to the department.
  • A second-year research project is designed, conducted, written up as a research paper, and presented in a spring brown bag to the department.
  • Coursework continues, typically 2 courses per semester. The student takes one or two core courses, and a statistics or methods course.
  • The student also takes the teaching practicum class, which typically involves acting as a TA for a class. Students must take this class three times during their residency in the program.
  • Research continues. Coursework continues, as agreed upon by student and committee.
  • A literature review paper is proposed and completed by August 15th. The student continues the teaching practicum class.
  • The dissertation topic is selected and presented formally to the student’s committee in an oral and written format.
  • The dissertation research is conducted, completed, and defended.
  • Reading and research activity is expected in the summer.
  • Students are required to attend department colloquia.
  • 85-765: Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurophysiology requirement satisfied by one of:
    1. 03-762: Advanced Cellular Neuroscience
    2. NROSCI/MSNBIO 2100: Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology (required for students in the Program in Neuroscience)
    3. INTBP 2000/2005: Foundations of Biomedical Science (for MD/PhD students)
  • Systems Neuroscience requirement satisfied by either of the following courses:
    1. 03-763: Systems Neuroscience
    2. NROSCI 2102/2103: Systems Neurobiology
    3. For MD/PhD students, this requirement is satisfied by taking an equivalent course offered by the medical school
  • Computational Neuroscience requirement satisfied by one of the following: 
    1. Psych 85-719: Introduction to Parallel Distributed Processing
    2. CS 15-883: Computational Models of Neural Systems
    3. 36-759: Statistical Models of the Brain