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Course Curriculum | Research Requirements | Teaching Experience Requirements | Other Requirements | Time Limit in the Program
Highly Recommended but NOT Required | Receiving an MA Degree | Two Routes to the Dissertation | Calendar
Program in Cognition & Perception: Ph.D. Degree Requirements
The Program course requirement for the Ph.D. is 72 credits, the equivalent of 24 one-semester, three-credit courses. A student must earn at least 30 of these credits - approximately 10 courses - with a letter grade of B (not B-minus) or better. At any given time, to remain in good standing (i.e., not to be on probation) the student is expected to be maintaining an overall grade point average of at least B (3.0) and must have at least 66% of the credits attempted over prior semesters at NYU successfully completed. A student cannot have more than three IPs or Ns (combined) on his/her transcript that are more than 2 semesters old or else the student will not be eligible for any university aid.
Note: Pass/Fail grades do not count as letter grades although they do count for credit. For more details on the grading system, see the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS).
Students who are supported as Teaching or Research Assistants normally take three courses each semester, typically two content courses and 3 points of predoctoral research credit. In addition, students must attend the Area Seminar in Cognition and Perception (for those students specializing in developmental psychology, the Area Seminar in Developmental Psychology is also required). Finally, the C&P students are expected to attend the "Brown Bag" research meeting that is organized and hosted by them and which provides a forum for their and the faculty's current research strategies, methods and data.
There are each worth 3 credits per course unless otherwise noted. Each core course must be earned at a grade of B (not B-minus) to count toward fulfilling the requirements of the C&P Program. Course information can be looked up on the web at various addresses. For Psychology PhD course-listings, click here. For each course we indicate how often it is typically offered (e.g., A=annually, 2-3 = every 2 or 3 years, O = occasionally/rarely, F = in Fall, S = in Spring).
Students are required to take two courses in quantitative methods for research. Most students in our program satisfy one of the two semesters of this requirement with Mathematical Tools for Cognitive Science and Neuroscience. This course covers core mathematical tools used in our field, including linear algebra, probability, estimation, linear systems and Fourier analysis, and includes an introduction to the theory as well as hands-on computation using Matlab. However, with the agreement of your advisor, you may satisfy this requirement with courses from the list below or with other courses available in our department or the graduate departments of Mathematics or Statistics (in the Leonard N. Stern School of Business). Here are some of the courses that might be used to satisfy this requirement:
Students are required to take four core content courses. One of these is satisfied by the first-year research requirement (the first-year talk and paper) which is graded and the grade is logged as the grade to a pre-doctoral research course. The other three courses may be chosen from among the following four options:
These courses are generally given once every year or two. It is advisable for students to complete these three courses by the end of the second year in the Program. Only one of the cognitive courses counts as a Core Content course. If a student takes more than one, the additional ones count as advanced electives.
To achieve a total of 30 graded credits, students must also complete four advanced electives. One of these is satisfied by the second-year research requirement (the second-year talk and paper) which is graded and the grade is logged as the grade to a pre-doctoral research course. The other three courses can be satisfied by any courses approved by your advisor and advisory committee, including additional quantitative courses, additional Core Content courses, and other advanced electives. Here are some of the courses you might consider for your advanced electives:
In the case of a student joining our program with graduate credit from elsewhere, the student in consultation with his or her advisor should go over the transcript and discuss whether any previous courses might substitute for C&P required courses. The student should then meet with the Coordinator, bringing a copy of the transcript as well as syllabi from any courses under consideration for transfer credit. In the case of a core course, the Coordinator may ask the instructor of the core course for approval. It should be noted that a minimum of 32 credits (of the 72 required for the doctorate) must be taken in residence at New York University, putting a natural limit on the maximum number of transfer credits accepted.
All research by psychology students that involves the use of human subjects must be approved by the NYU University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects. In some cases, an expedited review can be obtained from the faculty representatives to that committee from the Department (currently Profs. Heilman and Uleman). Forms may be obtained from the Subject Pool coordinator (presently Jim Uleman) on the 7th floor. Also, you may contact Catharine Lennon, Associate Subject Pool Coordinator - her subject pool address is: firstname.lastname@example.org . All research involving animal subjects must be approved by the NYU Animal Welfare Committee. See Prof. Hawken for further information or consult www.nyu.edu/uawc.
Being able to communicate knowledge to others and judge from their feedback whether the communication was successful - i.e., to teach - plays an integral part in testing out one's own knowledge and in extending it to the creation of more knowledge. Further, this teaching skill when well honed finds significant employment for its proponents in many walks of life. This is particularly true in academia where the probabilities are high that many of our C&P students will eventually hold jobs. Hence, providing learning experiences in teaching is an important part of our educational goals. It's a goal we seek to achieve by placing our students in apprenticeships with experienced teachers from whom they can learn how best to communicate in the classroom information from different domains of psychology and to evaluate the adequacy of that communication and improve upon it. While we do not require you to teach, it is highly recommended that you serve as a Teaching Assistant at least twice during your graduate education. The rules for when you are allowed to serve as a TA are complex and depend on the source of your funding during a given year. You should consult with Academic Affairs well in advance if you are considering applying for a TA position. The Summer Teaching Practicum is another avenue by which the department meets its commitment to train its graduate students in teaching as well as research skills. The Practicum provides its more qualified students paid opportunities in the summer to teach (not TA) an undergraduate course on their own but under expert supervision. For more details see Summer Funding.
The Mini-Convention is a day-long, convention-type meeting currently held on the Friday a week-and-a-half after Labor Day in September (see Calendar). Faculty and students of the Program attend this meeting which provides a training experience in convention-style oral presentation. All first- and second-year students are required to present talks based on their research projects. Upper-year students with well-worked-out, interesting findings to report are encouraged to present talks, as well as those who have not presented at a Brown Bag or other venue for the past academic year.Language Requirement
Psychology students are not required to fulfill this GSAS requirement.
Because modern research is dependent upon a high level of competence in the use of sophisticated computers, students in the Cognition and Perception Program are expected to acquire a reasonably high level of proficiency during their stay at New York University. Windows, Macintosh and UNIX (Linux) systems are generally available, all with Internet and Web access. Several of our courses (e.g., MathTools, Pereption, fMRI Lab) involve assignments that require the use of Matlab, which is used in many labs in the Program.
For each student who has had a dissertation proposal formally accepted by the Department, his/her dissertation committee will meet at least in the spring and fall of each year to consider the dissertation's progress. (see Dissertation Procedures) The spring meeting will also serve to review all aspects of the student's record to date and to form (in particular for students completing the 5th year or greater) a recommendation to the Program Coordinator regarding the student's continuation in the program. The judgment will be made on the basis of the student's recent progress, not on future promises. Students who have not made sufficient progress will be terminated and/or will be allowed only restricted use of program facilities (offices, etc.). Students who have completed their seventh year of work without defending their dissertation will automatically be terminated from the program unless the committee recommends an extension because of extraordinary circumstances. Terminated students can petition for readmission if it becomes possible for them to persuade faculty that they are viable degree candidates. If they are readmitted, however, they are subject to the payment of all matriculation fees covering the period from the end of their initial active status to the time of readmission. Students who have reached their 72 credit requirement and wish to remain on full-time matriculated status without taking the 12 semester credits ordinarily required may do so by filing the full-time equivalency form. After having done so, the usual semester matriculation fees will be waived for the next 6 semesters (three years). Thereafter, those students will have to pay a matriculation fee for each additional semester they remain ungraduated. A further repercussion of this status shift is that those students with university loans outstanding at New York University or elsewhere automatically become subject in six months to payback requirements.
It is to the student's advantage to complete the program within four or five years. This will improve job prospects.
Presentation of Research Papers at Professional Meetings
You might find inspiration in the Gu & Bourne (2007) "10 rules" of advice for graduate students. Please suggest links to other helpful publications.
All students in the Cognition and Perception Program are eligible to receive the M.A. degree as soon as they have:
To receive the degree, the student must register for graduation via ALBERT or complete the application on TORCHTONE (212-995-4747). This must be done at least three months before the desired date of degree (exact deadlines are available from the Academic Affairs Office, Room 158, Psychology Building). We encourage each student to take these steps to receive the M.A. when the opportunity arises, and to do so as soon as possible. It is to the benefit of both the student and the Program. Please note that GSAS will not grant a student both an MA and a PhD in the same calendar year.
Evaluations for first- and second-year students consist of the following three steps. Step 3 applies to all students.
All students should have finished a proposal by the middle of the fourth year. To enforce this requirement, students cannot register for the fourth year (second semester) unless they have an approved proposal.
Student evaluations are important monitors of how the student is progressing toward the Ph.D. In the student evaluation faculty meeting, the faculty use the results of these committee evaluations to identify problems that a student may have and how these may be overcome. In some instances, decisions as to awards or probations are made (see Time Limit in the Program). You will receive written feedback from your committee chair or Program Coordinator after this meeting.
If a student encounters difficulties while in the Program, we hope that the student will be comfortable discussing things with their advisor and advisory or dissertation committee to work out a solution. However, if for whatever reason a student would prefer to work with another faculty member, all of our faculty (and in particular the Coordinator and the Director of Graduate Studies) are available to help in support of all of our students. If the problem is sufficiently important or difficult (e.g., harassment, physical or mental health, etc.), then the student must work with the Director of Graduate Studies and the GSAS dean's office, as they are the only people with both the training and authority to handle difficulties of that magnitude.
You may take one of the following two approaches to fulfilling the thesis requirement in the Cognition and Perception Program:
Route One (The Traditional Thesis): You may prepare a traditional dissertation under the approval and guidance of your sponsor and thesis committee. However, because the responsibility of scientists to make the results of their work available to their colleagues is of paramount importance, the Cognition and Perception Program urges candidates to prepare their dissertations in such a way that some or all of the dissertation may be directly submitted for publication to a professional journal.
Route Two (Publications): Having completed all other requirements of the Ph.D. and having consulted your sponsor, you may submit for approval to your thesis committee (consisting of three committee members and two readers) three research or theoretical papers in place of a dissertation. Your dissertation committee is the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes an acceptable thesis. However, our usual standards are that two of these papers be published in major professional journals (with high standards of review) on the basis of work you have carried out while in the Cognition and Perception Program by the time of the defense. The third paper must not yet be published (in particular, it must not yet be copyrighted by a journal). On two of the three papers, you should be the main author, responsible for writing the first draft. If not obvious, your role should be indicated in the acknowledgements. Your published papers, in manuscript copy form, will be appendixed to your unpublished paper in accordance with the rules of the NYU Recording office which requires your thesis to be unpublished. The papers need not be on the same topic, but when they are bound together, they should have appended whatever ancillary material (i.e., fuller exposition of the research background, methodology, analysis, discussion and/or data tables) that your thesis committee deems appropriate.