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Cognitive Psychology Graduate Overview

Our program has eliminated the GRE General Test for admission for the fall 2024 class. Applicants should NOT submit their GRE scores through ETS nor report their scores in the application portal or on their CVs or personal statements.

Please note that our interviews for Fall 2024 will be offered virtually.

The Cognitive Psychology program at Syracuse University offers graduate training leading to a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology with the possibility to include a "Neuroscience" or a "Quantitative" concentration" as an area of specialization. Research in the program investigates fundamental mechanisms underlying cognitive and neural processing using experimental methods, advanced statistics, computational modeling, and animal models. We research cognitive processes such as memory, attention, analogical learning and reasoning, concepts and categories, problem solving, decision making, and the neurobiology of learning. This research contributes to our understanding of human behavior both in and outside the laboratory.

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Program of Study


The curriculum is designed to provide students with the essential coursework and laboratory research experience necessary for an academic or industry career in cognitive psychology. The coursework spans multiple areas:

  1. Statistics
  2. Methods
  3. Cognitive/neural bases
  4. Electives outside of the cognitive psychology offerings
Research Training

Students receive research training at the forefront of psychology. Students are assigned a primary advisor upon entry to the program and are required to actively participate in a program of research supervised by a core faculty member through the duration of their study. Training is designed to facilitate the development of research skills and professional development necessary for a career in psychological science. Required milestones include completion of a first-year research project, Master’s proposal and defense, qualifying exam, and Dissertation proposal and defense.


Many graduates of the program seek a research-teaching position following completion of the Ph.D. Opportunities to develop teaching skills come in the form of serving as a teaching assistant in classroom or laboratory courses including Foundations of Human Behavior, Cognitive Psychology, Statistical Methods, Introduction to Research Methodology, and Experiments in Cognitive Psychology.

Financial Support


The Department of Psychology makes a determined effort to provide at financial support for all graduate students in good standing. For decades, all Psychology graduate students in good standing have been funded. Financial support consists of tuition scholarship, assistantships that provide a competitive stipend, research funding, and the opportunity for summer assistantships.

Tuition Scholarship

Students receive 24 hours of remitted tuition per year (at $1,683 per credit hour), up to 90 credits in total across the span of the graduate career, which funds the full PhD program of study. The tuition scholarship does not cover the costs of student fees or student insurance.


Students receive a competitive stipend that meets or exceeds the cost of living in Syracuse from one of several different sources including teaching assistantships, clinical assistantships, internships or externships, research assistantships, or fellowships. In most cases these are 9-month appointments although some are 12-month positions. Teaching assistants support the education of undergraduate students by teaching lab or recitation sections, grading, providing reviews, proctoring exams, or other activities. Research assistantships support a specific research project, typically one funded by extramural funding agencies such as the NIH. Fellowships provide protected time to pursue independent research projects. Clinical assistantships provide mental health services to community and campus clients. Internships and externships are offered in conjunction with community partners.

Summer Funding

Summer funding opportunities are available in the form of independent teaching, clinical assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships.

Research Support

The department offers a research fund to support the research and professional development of each student. These funds can be used for the collection or analysis of data, to attend a scientific conference or workshop, or other purposes that will enhance student training.

Cost of Living Comparison

Syracuse is a very affordable city. We encourage you to use a cost-of-living comparison (like the one at this site) to compare Syracuse to other cities.


Only full-time doctorate students are considered for admission. The deadline for completed applications for admissions is December 1. Online applications are located at A complete application includes:

  1. official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work,
  2. a statement of research interests,
  3. a curriculum vitae,
  4. three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's academic work, and any other materials specified in the application
  5. Fill out the application online

An applicant's grades, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation are considered important indices of a person's potential success in graduate study and all three are taken into consideration. All applicants should include in their statement of interest a clear and concise description of their research interests and the core faculty member(s) with whom they would like to work as their research mentor(s). In addition, applicants are encouraged to submit a conference poster or original research paper if available. Please use the “Writing Sample” section of the application when uploading these documents.

Admission Standards

The admissions committee bases its decisions on the overall strength of the application and how well the skills and interest of the applicant align with faculty who are accepting students in a given year. No specific undergraduate major is required for admission, rather the collective preparation for research training by faculty is of utmost importance.

Features of the Program


The cognitive psychology area hosts a weekly proseminar where students, faculty, and visitors present their research. The proseminar is the touchstone of the program and serves as a forum for learning about the research interests and activities of all students and faculty in the program. Speakers discuss their research, receive helpful and constructive feedback, and engage in dialogue about the state of the science. Students learn skills for communicating and critiquing research ideas, and gain knowledge about a variety of research topics, methods, and approaches.

Colloquium Series

The Department of Psychology hosts a colloquium series which brings in world-renowned scholars from across all disciplines of Psychology.

Multi-disciplinary Collaborations

Syracuse University and the Syracuse community provide a wide array of facilities for learning including excellent research laboratories, computer facilities and libraries. Cognitive psychology faculty and their research labs collaborate with faculty in other departments and programs at Syracuse University and with researchers in Europe, China, and Australia. The interdisciplinary Aging Studies Institute, Neuroscience program, and the Center for Advanced Systems and Engineering are of special interest to some of the faculty and students in the cognitive area.

Mentoring Undergraduates in Research

Cognitive psychology faculty and graduate students are committed to mentoring undergraduates in research. Undergraduates are co-authors on several conference presentations and publications resulting from these mentoring relationships. Graduate students have the opportunity to build their mentoring skills.

Contact Us

For more information about the program, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.
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