Cognitive Psychology - Program Training

Graduate training in cognitive psychology consists of course work (some of which is required), research, and teaching experience. Formal supervision is by a student's major professor and advisory committee.


Each student is expected to participate actively in research. New students typically begin research projects under the close supervision of their major professors and become more independent as their graduate careers progress. Students can receive course credit for research by enrolling in individualized research courses (PSY 690) and thesis or dissertation research courses (PSY 698 and 699).

First-year graduate students are required to conduct a first-year research project under their advisors' supervison. An oral report of the project is to be presented in the cognitive colloquium series by the end of the second semester, and a written report is due prior to the start of the next academic year.

Major Advisor and Committee

Upon arriving at Purdue, each student will be assigned a temporary major advisor for the first semester. During this semester, each student should attempt to become acquainted with all members of the faculty in cognitive psychology and by mutual consent select a "permanent" major advisor (subsequent changes in the major advisor are always possible). In cooperation with the major advisor, the student should select a committee for work on the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. A committee typically consists of three to five members, including the advisor. A majority of the student's committee must be faculty members who are primarily in the cognitive program.

Often students are supported by funds from a research grant to a particular faculty member. In these cases, it is usually understood that this faculty member will serve as the student's advisor. However, this does not preclude the student from changing advisors later and receiving other means of financial support. Thus, when a student is admitted and supported by the resources of one faculty member, changes in advisor are still possible.

Student Evaluation

Students are evaluated twice a year, at the end of each semester. There are three categories of performance: students judged in "good standing," "not in good standing," or in an intermediate category in which students are technically in good standing but are given low priority for financial support. Typically this occurs because students are not making satisfactory research progress towards the Ph.D. Students are judged primarily on progress in their research training and on course grades.

Students are placed in one of the three categories of performance by the majority vote of the faculty, but students can appeal the faculty decision. If a student is judged "not in good standing" at the end of two successive semesters, he or she is automatically dropped from the program. Most students remain in "good standing" throughout their graduate careers; the cognitive program does not have to fail a certain number of students in order to maintain a reasonable student/faculty ratio.

Research Facilities

Research facilities at Purdue are excellent and readily allow advanced experimentation on the major topics in cognitive psychology. The microcomputer facilities for experimentation in perception, information processing, memory, and problem solving are outstanding.

The cognitive area computers are also hardwired to the departmental SUN computer allowing international networking, LISP, C, Pascal, and Fortran processing capabilities, and access to the Purdue mainframe system.

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