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Program Description

The Cognition, Brain & Behavior research area offers graduate training leading to a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology. Research in the Cognition, Brain & Behavior area centers around several themes, including cognitive aging, mathematical models of memory, and developmental biopsychology. Recent Ph.D. graduates of the program have gone on to post-doctoral research positions at Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, the University of Illinois, and Duke. Other recent graduates have gone on to teaching positions at liberal arts colleges, including St. Lawrence University and Hamilton College.


Core Faculty

Catherine Cornwell: Effects of early experience on development

Amy Criss (Director): Episodic memory and models of episodic memory

William Hoyer: Cognitive aging of learning and memory

Tibor Palfai: Behavioral psychopharmacology


Affiliated Faculty

Amanda Brown, Assistant Professor of Linguistics

Sandra Hewett, Beverly Petterson Bishop Professor of Neuroscience; Professor of Biology

Len Newman, Associate Professor of Psychology

Natalie Russo, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Pramod Varshney, Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Director of the CASE Center


Features of the Program

In addition to the course offerings of the program and other course offerings in the department and university, there are informal seminars, research discussion groups, a proseminar series given by the graduate students, and program and departmental colloquia.


There are travel funds available for students to attend meetings to present their research, and to attend colloquia and visit research labs at other universities.


Syracuse University and the Syracuse community provide a wide array of facilities for learning including excellent research laboratories, computer facilities and libraries. There are opportunities for collaboration with faculty in other departments and programs at Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University. The Department of Psychology maintains a subject pool for the recruitment of research participants. Near to campus there are research opportunities at several hospitals and health care facilities, and at the SUNY Health Sciences Center. The interdisciplinary Gerontology Center at Syracuse University, and the interdisciplinary program in Cognitive Science are of special interest to some of the faculty and students in Cognition, Brain & Behavior.

Students in the program receive instruction in the responsible conduct of research. The faculty members see it as their responsibility to exemplify proper conduct in research and in all professional matters.


Curriculum and Program Requirements

The curriculum in Experimental Psychology at Syracuse University is designed to provide students with the essential coursework and laboratory research experience necessary for an academic or research career in cognitive psychology. The faculty in the program offers coursework in three areas: (1) research methods, and statistics and design; (2) cognitive and neural bases of behavior including the study of perception, memory and attention, cognitive neuropsychology, cognitive neurochemistry, cognitive aging, and brain-behavior relationships through the life-span; and (3) applications of research principles to selected areas (e.g., psychology of adult life and aging). The program of study for the Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology requires a minimum of 90 graduate credit hours, distributed as follows:The program of study for the Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology requires a minimum of 90 graduate credit hours, distributed as follows:


Methods Core (9 Credits):
PSY 611: Proseminar in Experimental Psychology
PSY 612: Advanced Experimental Psychology
PSY 854: Statistical Analysis in Research Design (Prerequisite: PSY 853)


Statistics Core (9 credits):
PSY 655: Statistical Methods in Psychology II
PSY 756: Statistical Methods in Psychology III
PSY 853: Experimental Design and Statistical Tests


Cognitive/Neural Bases (9 credits):
PSY 615: Behavioral Pharmacology
PSY 622: Cognitive Psychology: Memory and Attention
PSY 626: Cognitive Neurochemistry
PSY 730: Seminar in Experimental Psychology
PSY 737: Experimental Psychology: Human Cognition and Aging
NEU 601: Advanced Neuroscience


Applications of Experimental Psychology (3 credits):
PSY 736: Psychology of Adult life and Aging


Electives (9 credits):
Three elective courses are required, and those are to be selected from the offerings of the faculty in clinical psychology, school psychology, or social psychology. You are encouraged to select elective course offerings that are application areas for experimental psychology and that broaden your knowledge, or ones that deepen or strengthen your methodological and statistical skills.


Independent research, other courses (27 credits):
Students are encouraged to work closely with one or more faculty members in a research program, and to develop a program of research early in their training.


Thesis and dissertation (6 and 18 credits, respectively)
Students are required to propose their masters thesis by December 15th of the second year, and to propose their doctoral dissertation by December 15th of the fourth year. Students having completed a research masters thesis elsewhere are not required to do another thesis, but must undertake and complete a research project in their first year of study at Syracuse. Students must complete the masters thesis (or equivalent research project for students admitted with an earned masters degree) by December 15th of the third year. Students take a Ph.D. qualifying exam during the second semester of the third year, after completion of the Master's thesis and prior to submitting the Ph.D. dissertation proposal. Thesis and dissertation research is supervised by a committee consisting of three faculty members. The dissertation committee consists of the student's research advisor, who must be a member of the Experimental Psychology Program, and two other faculty members. Students are expected to defend the dissertation by the end of their fifth year.


Admissions and Financial Support

Admission to the graduate program in Experimental Psychology depends on the quality of the applicant's prior academic record, the topic of the applicant's research interests, and the applicant's GRE scores. Applicants are expected to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and a minimum GRE of 1100 (combined verbal and quantitative scores). Financial support decisions also depend on the quality of the applicant's prior academic record, statement of research interests, and GRE scores. We try to support all of our graduate students by means of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and Syracuse University Fellowships. Faculty make a special effort to recruit and prepare well-qualified minority students for careers in the field of cognition, brain & behavior.

Only full-time doctorate students are considered for admission. The application deadline for fall admission is January 10th. Online applications are preferred and may be completed at the following web address: https://apply.embark.com/grad/syracuse/37/. A complete application includes official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, scores on the Graduate Record Examination, a personal statement of interests, a curriculum vitae, and three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's academic work. All applicants should include in their statement of interest a clear and concise description of their research interests and the faculty member(s) with whom they would like to work as their research mentor(s). Upon receipt of this information the Graduate School forwards copies of the completed application to the Department of Psychology for consideration.

Applicants with outstanding credentials are encouraged to apply for SU Fellowship support. To apply for this form of Fellowship support, you must send a duplicate copy of your application materials including a detailed description of your research interests directly to Professor Amy Criss before January 10.


For further information about the Cognition, Brain & Behavior research area or the graduate training program in Experimental Psychology, please contact Amy Criss


Event Calendar - Cognition, Brain, & Behavior Area


Contact Us

For more information about the program please direct requests to: Sue Bova