Mathematical and Computational Cognitive Science - Program Training

Course Requirements

The requisite set of core courses in mathematical-quantitative psychology are intended to ensure that the student has mastered certain basic mathematical, statistical, and methodological skills. The number of elective courses is purposely large to permit flexibility in tailoring the overall training program to the student's specific needs, interests, and career goals. A list of course requirements is at the end of page.

All required courses including the departmental core requirements must be completed with a grade of B or better in psychology courses and C or better in mathematics and statistics courses before the preliminary examination can be administered.

It is expected that the student will also take a number of other courses in quantitative psychology as well as mathematically oriented courses in neighboring disciplines, such as statistics, mathematics, electrical or industrial engineering, or physics.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary exam in quantitative and mathematical psychology shall be successfully completed at least two semesters prior to the candidate obtaining the Ph.D. degree. Successful completion of this exam together with course requirements constitute formal approval of the area to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

The composition of the examining committee is as specified by the department, with the additional quantitative area requirement that one member be from the student's specialty, but not in the quantitative area. This specialty would ordinarily, but not necessarily, be in the student's minor (see below).

The preliminary examination consists of two parts. Part I is a four-hour written exam surveying the field of mathematical-quantitative psychology. Each examiner's questions will occupy the same amount of time. The topics will be from the quantitative core reading list. The core list will be revised occasionally, but between revisions the same list will be used for each student. Part II will be a general essay question on the student's specialty area, based on the specialty reading list not to exceed 1,500 pages. The essay is due two days after the question is posed by the examining committee. One week later, the student will give a one-hour talk on the question, followed by one hour of questions by the committee.

A majority of the committee must vote affirmatively for the student to pass the exam.

Minor Area

A development of expertise in a minor area of psychology is required. In some cases, the student's area of research activity may reflect this interest, particularly as a domain for application of quantitative and/or modeling techniques. A professor from the minor area may be chosen as a member of the Ph.D. committee. A minimum of nine hours of courses will be taken from that specialty. More may be required, depending upon the minor area.


All doctoral students will complete a Ph.D. dissertation which will be an independent, but guided, effort of research scholarship in the candidate's field of interest. The student will stand examination on this research in the form of an oral dissertation defense.

The Ph.D. committee, which need not be identical to that assembled prior to the master's degree, will be composed of at least four psychology faculty members including no fewer than three members of the primary quantitative faculty. In addition, members may be selected from outside the quantitative area and/or from outside departments representing regions of the student's specialties and interests.

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