University General Course Catalog 2021-2022 
    Dec 03, 2023  

Psychology, Ph.D (Cognitive and Brain Science)

The Department of Psychology offers a graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology. The Psychology program provides education and research training in three areas of specialization: Behavior Analysis, Clinical, and Cognitive Brain Sciences. Students in all three areas of specialization must meet all requirements for admission to the graduate school. Prospective graduate students may access the Graduate School’s website for the current information and for on-line admissions applications.

Contact Information

Gideon P. Caplovitz, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Graduate Program Director 

Psychology Department
438 Mack Social Science
(775) 784-6828

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

Cognitive and Brain Sciences is a basic component of any academic program in psychology. The Cognitive and Brain Sciences program is committed to quality training of students at the graduate and undergraduate levels and the production of high quality research. It is our goal to offer courses and training in the specific areas represented by our faculty research. We strive to train our students to become researchers and/or teachers in experimental psychology. Since our faculty members are expected to maintain active research laboratories, we provide a fertile environment for graduate and undergraduate students to participate and learn about the research process. It is our purpose to provide masters and doctoral graduate students with extensive background in several basic areas of research, to train them so that they can plan and execute original research in the field and expose them, ‘in depth’ to a concentrated area of research. These actions are intended to prepare masters graduates for advanced study and turn doctoral graduates into viable candidates for academic positions and successful applicants for external funding.

Admission Requirements

Applications for acceptance to the Ph.D. programs are made to the graduate school and must include:

  1. a graduate admission application, including fees;
  2. an official copy of the GRE scores; and
  3. official college transcripts.

Additionally, application materials should be submitted to the area of specialization in the Department of Psychology. Those packets must include:

  1. Program preference form (available on the department website);
  2. statement of purpose and goals;
  3. three sealed letters of recommendation; and
  4. a curriculum vitae (optional).

Candidates for the Ph.D. or M.A. must complete graduate school and specialization area requirements. Students must be admitted to one specialization area. The department website provides current degree requirements. There is also an interdisciplinary Social Psychology, Ph.D.  that is described in the Interdisciplinary and Special Programs portion of the catalog. Admission materials are due February 1.

For International Students, a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of at least 500 is required for admission to the Graduate School. Students who have achieved a TOEFL score of 600 or higher are exempt from Intensive English Language Center evaluation. A TOEFL score of 550 or higher is the minimum necessary for a student to be approved for a teaching assistantship. TOEFL scores are not required for international students who have received a baccalaureate or advanced degree from an accredited university or college in the United States.

I. Program Requirements

A minimum of 30 of the 48 units of course work required must be taken at the 700-level.

The graduate program in Cognitive and Brain Sciences is research oriented, and all graduate students are expected to be involved in research. Students are encouraged to participate in research with faculty, with other students, and independently. Students may register for Graduate Research (PSY 752  for a maximum of 6 credits and Individual Reading (PSY 755 ) for a maximum of 9 credits. These credits can be used to fulfill degree requirements.

The following courses are required and constitute the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Core Courses.

a. Foundation Courses (15 units)

All students are required to complete five 700-level seminars in the different substantive areas of Cognitive and Brain Sciences represented by the program faculty. These courses are designed to provide background and breadth in different topical areas of the field and to prepare students for the comprehensive exam. To ensure breadth and adequate preparation for the exam each course taken to meet this requirement should be taken from a different faculty member, and the sequence should be completed within the first two years.

b. Methods (9 units)

All students are required to take PSY 627 and 706 as part of their program of study.  Select an additional lab-oriented methods course from the list below or select another course to meet this requirement in consultation with your advisor.

c. Electives (24 units)

Coursework used to satisfy this requirement must have the prior approval of the student’s advisory/examining committee and the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Program Director. Coursework includes comprehensive exam unit(s).

d. Dissertation (24 units)


Students entering the University of Nevada with an M.A. in psychology or with acceptable graduate work from another accredited institution may have appropriate transfer courses substitute for specific courses in the core. A student may apply up to 24 units with grades of “B” or better from post-baccalaureate graduate studies in Psychology toward the doctoral degree. Decisions on transfer course equivalencies are made by the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Program faculty.

Students may also be required to complete a 3 unit course in teaching skills offered through the Excellence in Teaching Program. These units cannot be used toward the 72 unit requirement for the Ph.D. degree in the program.

II. Total Units (72 units)


Cognitive and Brain Sciences: The Graduate Program in Cognitive and Brain Sciences (formerly known as Experimental Psychology) offers programs of study leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. Students are given a strong foundation in current theory and methods and have the opportunity to specialize within a number of substantive areas of research that include:

  • Comparative Psychology,
  • Development across the life span,
  • Psychophysiology,
  • Cognitive Neuroscience,
  • Memory, and
  • Sensation and Perception.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

In order to qualify for admission, a candidate must have earned a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent) from an accredited institution. An undergraduate major in Psychology is not required for admission.