A person with a head covering containing cables connected for an EEG experiment.

Doctor of Philosophy

Cognitive Psychology

Program of Study


In the Cognitive Psychology PhD program you will begin by taking foundation courses in cognition and statistics, followed by advanced seminar classes in your area of specialization. You will take 2 or 3 courses per semester during your first two years in our program, then focus on your own research during subsequent years.

To provide flexibility and breadth, we offer courses that span a wide range of topics, including language processing, bilingualism, online communication, cognitive neuroscience, reasoning, problem-solving and conceptual thinking, memory, learning, perception, attention, visual cognition, signal detection theory, and models of speech perception and reading.

Cognitive Psychology Core Courses

  • Survey of Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology and Language
  • Complex Mental Processes
  • Human Memory
  • Information Processing/Perception

Out of Specialization Area Courses

Two courses from two different areas of specialization within Psychology PhD programs

Current Topics in Cognitive Psychology Seminar

A weekly seminar where students and faculty present their current work to receive critical feedback from researchers in other labs

Statistics/Method Courses

  • Statistical and Experimental Methods I
  • Statistical and Experimental Methods II

Initial Research Project

During the first two years of the program, you will complete a pre-dissertation research project that often serves as a Master’s thesis

Research Tool Requirement - demonstrated proficiency in one of the following:

  • Master a technique, statistical or otherwise, in the process of conducting the Initial Research Project or another research project
  • Pass a foreign language test
  • Pass a course in computer programming, mathematics or advanced statistics

Qualifying Examination

Prepare a critical review paper on a topic of your choice. with input from your exam committee


The dissertation is an opportunity for you to learn how to pose questions and conduct independent scholarly work that has the potential to extend previous knowledge in your field

Full-Time Study in Residence

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information, contact Program Director Heather Sheridan at [email protected].

Research and Applied Learning


Research Opportunities

You will engage in research throughout your graduate study, beginning in your first year with the Initial Research Project and culminating in your doctoral dissertation. You will collaborate with active faculty mentors whose research interests span topics including human memory, visual attention, auditory and visual word recognition and reading, and second language processing and bilingualism.

Additionally, you will have access to equipment and software to conduct a wide range of experiments including behavioral studies with visual and auditory stimuli, EEG/ERPs, eye tracking, and computational modeling.

If you’re interested in interdisciplinary work you will benefit from the Cognitive program’s affiliations with other departments on campus including Education, the Child Research and Study Center, Linguistics and Cognitive Science, and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

Teaching Opportunities

Hone your teaching skills by serving as a teaching assistant in the early part of your graduate training and leading your own courses later in your graduate career. This will provide you with valuable experience when pursuing tenure-track professor positions after graduation.

Our program organizes informal reading group meetings and workshops to help you develop your research and teaching skills. You can also attend colloquia, events by ITLAL (Institute for Teaching, Learning & Academic Leadership), and talks by notable speakers.

Assistantships and Grants

We offer graduate assistantships to cover tuition and living expenses. In addition, internal grants are available to support your research projects, conference travel, and professional development activities. We also actively mentor students who are interested in developing their grant writing skills.

Career Outcomes

After earning a degree from the cognitive psychology PhD program at UAlbany, most students secure tenure-track faculty positions at universities around the world, including Chinese University of Hong Kong, Rochester Institute of Technology, Temple University, University of Houston-Downtown, Tennessee Technological University, University of Missouri and Renmin University of China.

Our strong focus on research training prepares you for non-academic careers as industry researchers in related fields as well.

With a PhD in Cognitive Psychology potential careers include:

  • Professor
  • Researcher
  • Legal consultant
  • Data analyst
  • Experiment designer
  • Marketing researcher
  • Human factors consultant
  • Human-computer interaction designer



Professor and students in a lecture hall

“Graduates from UAlbany’s Psychology Department receive top-notch training in research design, with enough flexibility to develop additional skills in methodology, statistics, and teaching. Individualized mentoring and development came in many forms, including close-knit laboratories and weekly Topics meetings discussing each other’s current projects. Thanks to this mentoring, I received the research and teaching experience needed to be a competitive applicant on the job market, securing a tenure-track position upon graduation. The success of my own laboratory is a testament to UAlbany’s training and mentoring, as we conduct and publish our own work under a similar model. I highly recommend the program and its world-class faculty!”

- Stephanie A. Kazanas, PhD, '16, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Tennessee Technological University

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. International students maintaining F-1 status are allowed to apply for up to 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion/graduation from their degree program. Currently, this degree program is also designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an eligible degree for the F-1 STEM OPT work authorization extension; students who secure qualifying employment may be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension for a cumulative total of up to 36 months of F-1 OPT work authorization.

Admissions Requirements

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of goals

The GRE general test is not required but may be considered.

Special Notes

The SUBJECT GRE exam is not required, but is strongly recommended.

This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  1. Students will be able to conduct original research and effectively communicate its results in written journal article format. Components of meeting this objective are:
    (a) doing a literature review
    (b) generating novel hypotheses based on that review
    (c) creating an experimental or observational design and a research methodology that optimally tests those hypotheses
    (d) reporting the results of statistical analyses suitable for publication in journal articles
    (e) integrating the results within the framework of the existing literature and identifying the novel implications of those results
  2. Students will be able to effectively communicate research results in an oral presentation. Components of meeting this objective are:
    (a) effectively organizing and ordering the material
    (b) pitching the material at a level appropriate to the audience
    (c) creating well designed PowerPoint slides
    (d) synchronizing the appearance of the material on the slides with the oral presentation
    (e) appropriately pacing the presentation based on audience reactions
  3. Students will demonstrate an ability to conduct a comprehensive literature search on a somewhat general topic in cognitive psychology and to effectively synthesize the results in that literature. Components of meeting this objective are:
    (a) identifying common threads among seemingly disparate findings
    (b) identifying deficiencies in experimental designs and procedures and gaps in empirical knowledge
    (c) critically evaluating theories so as to create new ideas and hypotheses
  4. Students will have the ability to use existing software and data bases specific to creating experimental materials, collecting data in various paradigms in cognitive psychology and statistically evaluating those data