Students and faculty investigate how people perceive, think, and act. Research is central in our graduate training. Students are exposed to a broad range of knowledge in cognition and perception and they are trained to think creatively and to develop independent research careers.
Our program spans cognition and perception, examining mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, categorization, language, emotion, development, motor control, and cognitive neuroscience. How do we identify the letter "a"? How do we perceive depth and shape? What representational resources are innate? How do human cultures, and individual children, go beyond innate representational capacities? How do toddlers make decisions about their world? How are explicit and implicit memories coded in the brain? How do we inhibit inappropriate responses? How are sentences understood? How are new concepts acquired? How does attention affect perception?
Students and faculty work closely with researchers in other departments (Neural Science, Computer Science, Linguistics, and Philosophy). Every week there are journal club discussions and talks by leading researchers that take place within the Psychology Department, in other NYU departments, and at other nearby schools in New York City (see Events). Ready access to researchers at several great universities and to incredible cultural resources makes New York City a great place to study perception and cognition.
Our graduate students begin research immediately. Students benefit from interaction with their faculty advisers and the lively exchange of research ideas among students, postdocs, and faculty at weekly Cognition and Perception colloquia and brown bag talks, research seminars, journal clubs (cognitive neuroscience, development, ... see Events) and our annual miniconvention. As a result of this focus on research, our students publish regularly in high-impact journals and go on to become researchers at the best research universities and industrial laboratories.
What follows is a brief version of our curriculum. Full details may be found in our Graduate Student Handbook. Our curriculum is designed to help students master the skills required to accomplish high quality research. Within the first two years, most students have completed the bulk of our primary course requirements. We require all students to take at least four courses in core, content-based areas of the discipline such as Memory, Perception, Attention, Cognitive Development, Psycholinguistics and Cognitive Neuroscience. In addition, we require all students to take at least two courses in quantitative methods, which can be the two-semester departmental statistics sequence, or other courses in probability theory, simulation, advanced statistical methods, etc. In addition, there are advanced seminars in areas related to the research areas of the faculty and students. The course catalog and schedule are online.
A key aspect of our program is its strength in cognitive neuroscience, which students can select as their "concentration". One aspect of this is the new, on-site, research-dedicated Center for Brain Imaging that includes a 3T MRI scanner and EEG facility, and will soon include a TMS facility as well. The center is designed to allow students the training and opportunity to become experts in cognitive neuroscience. Through a combination of course work and hands-on experience, students who select this concentration will receive training in the techniques of cognitive neuroscience and will apply these techniques to their chosen research questions.
Students join a laboratory and begin to design and carry out a research project in their first semester. They are required to write a paper based on research they have performed as well as give a talk in our annual miniconvention at the end of their first and second years. The 2nd-year paper and completion of our basic course requirements generally result in the awarding of an MA degree. We encourage students to collaborate with more than one faculty member, including doing a full laboratory rotation or two. Students may work with primary Cognition & Perception faculty or with affiliates from other programs (e.g., Social Psychology) or departments (e.g., the Center for Neural Science). (See faculty listed alphabetically with a sentence about their research interests, or by area.) In their third and fourth years, PhD students are focused primarily on research.
We consider the best experience that students can have to become productive researchers is to carry out, write up, and present their research projects. The 1st- and 2nd-year research requirements emphasize this goal. The content and methods courses are designed to provide students with the context and tools they need to produce world-class research on their own. After graduating, most of our students have gone on to research careers. (See Recent PhDs.)
All students accepted into our graduate program are fully funded through the Henry M. MacCracken Program. MacCracken funding is provided through a combination of teaching assistantship, research assistantship, and fellowship, in proportions to be determined. The award package typically includes a full tuition scholarship, comprehensive health insurance and a stipend. Funding is typically guaranteed for five years, although students with substantial graduate credits or a Master's degree may only be guaranteed four years of support. For current information on the Psychology Department's aid package, please see our doctoral financial aid page.
To apply for admission to the Graduate Program in Cognition & Perception, you'll need the application form, which is available from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Apply for admission to the Department of Psychology. In the forms there is a place where you specify the particular program in which you are interested (e.g. Cognition & Perception), as well as whether you are also interested in the Developmental Concentration.
In the application, it is requested that you supply a personal statement. You are free to include any information in that statement that you feel will help us in our admissions decision. However, as we are a research-based program, it is especially useful if you include a review of any research experience you have had (explain what was interesting about it) as well as your current research interests.
Together with your application, the Graduate School of Arts and Science will require you to upload official transcripts of grades from other schools you have attended, both undergraduate and graduate. In addition, it is required that you take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Some of our students also submit scores from the Advanced Psychology GRE test. We place very little weight on that score, and do not encourage you to take it. Please do NOT mail any documents (transcripts etc) to the department. Everything needs to be uploaded and submitted through the online application.
International applicants must take the TOEFL or IELTS exam if English is not their first language unless they earned a Bachelor's or Master's degree at an English speaking university. Additional information of concern to international applicants is available online from the Office of Global Services.
We recommend that you submit your application so as to arrive by December 1st.
Department of Psychology