The ACBS Ph.D. program is a research-based program in experimental psychology and/or cognitive neuroscience, and offers no clinical training. Graduate students already in Drexel’s ACBS or Clinical Psychology programs may not transfer from one to the other of these programs, except by applying for admission to the other program through normal channels.
Prerequisites for Admittance to the ACBS Ph.D. Program
Students are expected to have an undergraduate degree in a relevant area, such as psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, etc., as well as significant experience doing empirical research. Although a major in psychology is not required for admission to the ACBS Ph.D. program, it is highly desirable that an applicant demonstrate interest in cognitive and brain sciences via coursework or research experience in cognitive psychology, cognitive science, or cognitive neuroscience. The person should also have a solid background in college-level mathematics, science, and computer skills. The program acknowledges that some individuals may have followed alternative career paths. Therefore, applicants who feel that they have prerequisite knowledge and experience that would enable the successful completion of the ACBS program, even if they do not meet the above criteria, should document in their application essay their experience and motivation for this career change. Interested individuals who may not yet have all the qualifications for the Ph.D. program may instead apply to the M.S. program.
In addition to required coursework, students must complete an M.S. thesis taking the form of an empirical research report suitable for journal publication. Entry to Ph.D. level work involves completion and successful defense of the M.S. degree and a satisfactory pass on the ACBS Ph.D. qualifying exam. The qualifying exam entails preparation of an extended literature review article on a topic mutually determined by the student, his or her mentor, and the ACBS faculty. This review article should be suitable for publication in a referred journal (e.g., Psychological Bulletin). The student will orally present and defend this review article in front of a committee of ACBS faculty. The student may write the M.S. thesis and a literature review article on two different topics, or the student may combine them by writing a single major empirical research article that includes an extended introduction that includes the literature review, followed by the empirical report.
Ph.D. Program Curriculum
Students will carry a full course-load of at least 3 courses (9 credits) per quarter. This course-load may include independent study courses as well as listed courses.
Required courses are courses that must be taken in the first two years of study. It is recommended the student take these courses in the first year, if possible, as these courses serve as prerequisites for many of the core and elective courses. Required courses include the three-course sequence in statistics (with an optional fourth course in statistics), Research Methods I & II, and Cognitive Psychology. Students also must take one course in M.S. thesis preparation.
At least six core courses must be taken in the first three years of study. These are overviews that include courses in areas of experimental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and other relevant topics. The courses that fulfill this requirement should be based on the student’s individual focus. For example, for someone who has major research interests in developmental psychology, the Developmental Psychology course would be an expected core course. Up to two courses outside of psychology may count as core courses, with this to be decided on an individual basis among the student, his or mentor, and the program director. Students may take more than six core courses, with the remainder counting as advanced electives. Students must also take at least 12 advanced electives in the first three years of study. Advanced electives can be obtained from other departments with consent from the student’s mentor and concentration head. Relevant coursework outside of psychology might include courses in computer science, digital media, the School of Public Health, the LeBow School of Business, and the Drexel School of Biomedical Engineering.
All doctoral students are typically offered financial support with the specific amount varying from year to year. Historically, such support has included tuition remission and a baseline stipend from the Psychology Department, as well as additional stipend monies from other sources (e.g., advisors’ grants, Dean’s or Provost’s Fellowships). Financial support is typically offered for fours years of residency in the program. After the fourth year, a student is responsible for paying for 1 credit per term for any coursework completed. Accepted applicants will receive a detailed description of the support package that accompanies the offer of admission, which may combine tuition remission, teaching assistantship, and/or research stipend.