PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience

5 students researching the brain through 2 laptops

The Cognitive Neuroscience doctoral program develops scientists who perform research in academic and research institutions. The curriculum offers an intense research experience in the areas of perception, attention and memory, with an emphasis on the neural bases of these capacities. Students collaborate with faculty using diverse research methods, including patient-based testing, neuro-imaging, animal modeling, psychophysical scaling and computational modeling. Unlike clinical neuropsychology programs, this program does not provide training in diagnosing or treating brain or neurological disorders.

GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences and its teaching hospital are resources for cognitive neuroscience research, with dedicated departments studying neurology, neurosurgery and neuroradiology.

Neuroscience Research in Action 

Guangying Wu in a laboratory with mice

Quieting the Voices of Schizophrenia

Assistant Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Guangying Wu is trying to pinpoint the the misfiring neurons that cause agonizing internal noise for people with schizophrenia. His research enlisted the help of student researchers, colleagues in other scientific disciplines and a pack of genetically engineered mice.

Jeongmi Lee

"My research experiences in cognitive neuroscience helped me figure out what interests me most and develop the necessary skills and network to pursue a career in academia."

Jeongmi Lee
PhD '13

Course Requirements


The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Program.

Required core
PSYC 8250Foundations in Cognitive Neuroscience (Foundations)
PSYC 8250Foundations in Cognitive Neuroscience (Proseminar)
PSYC 8289Seminar: Current Topics in Experimental Psychology
DNSC 6274Statistical Modeling and Analysis
DNSC 6275Advanced Statistical Modeling and Analysis
PSYC 8202Psychological Research Methods and Procedures
6 credits in coursework taken outside of the cognitive neuroscience field.
21 to 27 credits in elective courses, which may include PSYC 8289, PSYC 8295, and/or other relevant courses. PSYC 8289 and PSYC 8295 may be repeated for a maximum number of credits provided the topic and/or instructor differs.
PSYC 8289Seminar: Current Topics in Experimental Psychology (may be taken for a maximum total of 18 credits)
PSYC 8295Independent Research (may be taken for a maximum total of 6 credits)
PSYC 8998Advanced Reading and Research (taken for 6 to 12 credits)
PSYC 8999Dissertation Research (taken for 6 to 12 credits)
Comprehensive examination
Students must successfully complete a comprehensive examination.