Research Training

Research is the students’ primary activity during their graduate training experience. Students conduct research using a wide range of methodologies, and lab organization varies accordingly. In some labs, multiple students work together on a larger scale multi-faceted project whereas other labs are organized around individual smaller-scale experiments.

The primary research interests across the faculty and students include perception, concepts, language, emotion, and memory. Experimenters employ a wide range of techniques and methodologies including observational, interview/questionnaire, forced-choice, reaction time, looking time, perceptual discrimination, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and event related potentials (ERP). Students are expected to work on research projects year-round (including summers) in each year of their training program. The major research milestones are listed below.

Students select a research mentor in their first year with whom they will work predominantly. We encourage students to develop multiple projects in different labs or to develop collaborative projects with multiple faculty members. Students may also change primary mentors if their research interests shift. Most students ultimately have one primary and one secondary mentor within the program or department.

Masters theses are typically conducted during the second year. The student writes a thesis proposal by the beginning of his or her second year, describing an empirical project that s/he plans to conduct with an advisor. The masters project is completed by the beginning of the third year when the student defends his or her thesis before a committee.

The Qualifying Examination is typically taken during the winter of the third year or summer following the third year. Students each propose a topic, a special problem or question which they plan to address in a comprehensive 50-page literature review. The student prepares a four-page proposal describing the problem to be addressed in the review which must be approved by both the program and the student’s assigned examining committee before the qualifying exam is attempted. After completing the review paper, the student defends the paper before his or her committee.

The Dissertation is typically proposed during the student’s fourth year. The student writes a proposal describing an empirical project that s/he plans to conduct with an advisor. Students typically take between one and three years to complete the dissertation. After the student has conducted the research and completed the dissertation thesis, he or she defends the thesis before a committee.

Affiliated Research Programs and Centers