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Prospective Students

Admissions Process and Graduate Application Forms

Program at a Glance:

We divide your studies into three phases; at the end of each phase, you submit a written report. During the first phase which takes two years, you take core courses (including statistics), and associate yourself with one or two faculty members as a research apprentice. Many graduate programs earmark each entering student as a "student of Professor X". In our program the choice is yours. We also encourage each student to do research in more than one lab. In each lab, you first attend weekly lab meetings to familiarize yourself with ongoing research projects. Eventually you develop your own research project, which culminates in a paper, the predissertation report.

Along with doing research and taking courses, you will attend the Cognitive Studies Group, which is a weekly series of lectures and debates led by guest speakers from other universities, colleagues from the University, our faculty, and our students. After your first year, we encourage you to develop your oratorical skills by giving one presentation a year. This participation continues throughout your residency in our program.

We also encourage you to give papers at conferences [at first on research performed with faculty] and to begin establishing a publication record. Some of our students have published several articles by the time they receive their doctorate.

Throughout your studies you work as a teaching assistant in undergraduate courses (such as Introduction to Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Statistics, Introduction to Perception, Introduction to Cognition). We believe that one of the best ways to understand a topic in depth is to teach it to beginners. The faculty member you assist will help you to develop your pedagogy. We also have special courses devoted to the improvement of your teaching.

During the second phase of your studies, you deepen your involvement in research, take a few advanced seminars, and over a period of up to a year, you write the three parts of an individually tailored Qualifying Exam:

a referee's critical review of a manuscript submitted for publication
a review of research on a topic you wish to understand
a detailed course outline for an undergraduate course you would like to teach

During the third phase of your studies, you focus on your dissertation. Out of the research you have conducted to this point, emerges a problem at the frontier of knowledge. Your dissertation committee approves your proposal, which you write as a grant application to the National Institutes of Mental Health, one of the principal sources of funding in our field. In your last year, you perform your dissertation research and write your thesis. By the end of the Fall term you have analyzed enough of your data to prepare a job lecture, which you deliver when prospective employers interview you during the winter months of your last year.

We will invite a number of outstanding prospective students to visit the Department in February or March. We are sure that once you have been introduced to our first-rate research programs, our extraordinary facilities, our congenial faculty, and our enthusiastic students, you will want to spend the next few years of your life learning what makes the mind tick.