Psychology (Cognitive Science) (PhD)


Psychology's Cognitive Science area investigates core cognitive processes such as cognition, action, perception, and language, while applying multiple theoretical perspectives such as information processing, dynamics, and embodied cognition. We also conduct translational research in the spirit of the New American University to apply cognitive psychology to solution of real problems such as improving children's reading comprehension.

Prospective Students

We have high expectations for prospective students in Cognitive Science that include:

Breadth: students will master multiple approaches to the study of human cognition by participating in multiple laboratories.
Sophistication: students will acquire the analytic and theoretic tools required by contemporary Cognitive Science.
Impact: students will impact the field through important publications and presentations. 

We are particularly interested in potential students who are passionate about cognitive science; have demonstrated research skills (e.g., a senior thesis); and  have strong credentials (e.g., GPA>3.5; GRE scores in the upper quintile).

For more information on the Cog Sci doctoral program see Program Milestones or contact Dr. Art Glenberg, Cog Sci Area Head.  Prospective students should also check the Cog Sci faculty page to see who's currently accepting new students.

Click here for general information about Psychology's doctoral program admissions requirements, application process, and financial support.


The Cognitive Science curriculum is described under Program Milestones.

Program Milestones

Training in Cognitive Science (CS) follows an apprenticeship model and most students work closely with one advisor/mentor. Depending the student’s interests, however, the student may participate in several laboratories. The goals of the program are to train students through a series of projects and courses and to become independent and creative scientists. An important part of this training is developing skill in publishing and students are expected to have several publications in major, peer-reviewed outlets by the time they graduate.


Students must complete at least two graduate level statistics courses; at least six, 3-credit courses taught by at least five CS core faculty; and two additional courses. These courses are generally completed during the first two to three years. Choose these courses in consultation with your research mentor, but be sure to also look at the courses taught by Cognitive Science affiliates.

All students must also enroll in the Cognitive Seminar throughout their graduate careers. The seminar provides opportunities for students and faculty to present their research, discuss new ideas, practice writing grant proposals, and introduce professional topics such as research ethics. The total number of hours required by ASU's Graduate College for the PhD is 84 (42 of coursework and 42 of research).

Research Training

First Year Project. The first year project involves designing, conducting, and reporting research under the direct supervision of the student’s advisor.  By the end of the student’s first semester, two additional faculty members, called "readers," are selected to assist in the development of the project. The student must meet with the readers (either separately or as a committee) at least once. Also by the end of the first semester, the student will give a presentation of the plans for the first year project in the CS Seminar. No later than two weeks before the end of the second semester, the student provides to all CS faculty a written draft describing the project. The readers provide feedback to the student. The student gives an oral presentation to the CS Seminar by the end of the student's second semester.

Master’s Thesis. The master's thesis is typically undertaken in the second year and defended during the third year. It is an original piece of research, closely supervised by the research advisor and an advisory committee. The thesis leads to the MA degree, which is considered to be a "masters in passing."  After forming a master’s thesis committee, the student must complete a three-step process:  (1) defend a written prospectus; (2) after data collection, conduct a “data meeting” at which the analyses are reviewed by the committee; and (3) pass a defense of the thesis.

Comprehensive Examination. During the third or fourth year of the doctoral studies, the student concentrates much of his or her effort on a scholarly review of the areas of Cognitive Science. The student works with four committee members to put together a reading list upon which the Comprehensive Exams — written and oral — are based. The student has the choice of completing a "closed-book," two-day written exam or an "open-book," two-week written exam. The oral exam is conducted one week after the conclusion of the written exam and serves to clarify the student's answers to the written questions. Often, the literature review that the student conducts during this time period becomes the basis of the doctoral dissertation.

Doctoral Dissertation. The doctoral dissertation is an extensive piece of original research that demonstrates the capability of the student to act as an independent scholar and use experimental methods. The dissertation is closely supervised by the research advisor and three additional faculty members who constitute the dissertation committee. As with the master’s thesis, there are three components. First, the student writes a formal dissertation proposal and defends it to the committee. After the defense, the student is admitted to PhD candidacy by the Graduate College. Second, following data collection, there is a "data meeting" at which the analyses are reviewed by the committee. The process culminates with the student's defense of the dissertation before the committee and the academic community.


CORE FACULTY:     E. Amazeen     N. Amazeen     Brewer     Glenberg     Goldinger     Homa     McBeath     McClure     McNamara     Presson     Stone  

Eric Amazeen, PhD, Associate Professor. Research Interests: Ecological and Dynamic approaches to Perception and Action. Lab: Dynamics of Perception, Action, and Cognition Lab.
Accepting new doctoral students? Undecided 

Nia Amazeen, PhD, Associate Professor. Research Interests: Coordination dynamics. Lab: Dynamics of Perception, Action, and Cognition Lab.
Accepting new doctoral students? Yes 

Gene Brewer, PhD, Assistant Professor. Research Interests: Human Memory, Cognitive Control, Cognitive Neuroscience. Accepting new doctoral students? yes

Art Glenberg, PhD, Professor and CS Area Head. Research Interests: Embodied Cognition, Learning, Action and Perception, The Great Unconformity. Lab: Laboratory for Embodied Cognition  "I Act therefore I Think."
Accepting new doctoral students? Undecided

Steve Goldinger, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Word Perception, Face Perception and Memory, Attention. Lab: Memory and Language Lab.
Accepting new doctoral students? yes

Don Homa, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Human categorization, attention & search, memory for dynamic events. Lab: Prototype Abstraction Lab.
Accepting new doctoral students? Undecided

Mike McBeath, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Computational modeling of Perception-Action and Embodied Cognition, with emphases in Sports, Music, Navigation, and Biomimetic Robotics. Lab: Perception, Ecological Action, Robotics, and Learning (PEARL) Lab.
Accepting new doctoral students? Undecided

Sam McClure, PhD, Associate Professor. Research Interests: Reward processing and executive control in human decision-making using a combination of human neuroimaging (fMRI and EEG), behavioral studies, and computational models for study. Lab: Decision Neuroscience Laboratory.
Accepting new doctoral students? please contact

Danielle S. McNamara, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Comprehension, Knowledge and Skill Acquisition, Intelligent Tutoring, Game-based learning environments, Natural language processing, writing and learning strategies. Lab: Science of Learning and Educational Technology Lab.
Accepting new doctoral students? Yes

Clark Presson, PhD, Professor. Research Interests: Development of spatial knowledge and reasoning, the use of spatial symbols, applications of cognitive development to child and adolescent health psychology, and processes of initiation of cigarette smoking.
Accepting new doctoral students? No.

Greg Stone, PhD, Associate Professor. Research Interests: Mathematical modelling, Word perception, and Reaction Time analysis.
Accepting new doctoral students? No


Affiliated Department Faculty and Emeritus

Mina Johnson-Glenberg, PhD, Adjunct Faculty. Research Interests: Educational games and assessment of learning especially for STEM, text comprehension, mental health, and nutrition exergames targeting youth at risk for obesity and diabetes. Lab: Embodied Games for Learning.

Peter Killeen, PhD, Professor Emeritus. Research Interests: Models of action.

Federico Sanabria, PhD, Associate Professor. Research Interests: Animal cognition, associative learning, timing and time perception, choice and decision making. Lab: Basic Behavioral Processes. 


Cognitive Science Affiliates

The faculty, colleagues and collaborators below are part of the greater ASU and Phoenix community who have a strong interest in Cognitive Science and contribute to the Cognitive Science enterprise. Many of these faculty serve as outside members on dissertation committees and offer additional research opportunities for our doctoral students.

Robert K Atkinson, PhD, ASU School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering & Division of Educational Leadership, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Research Interests: Personalized digital learning;  Informatics, Educational Technology.

Tamiko Azuma, PhD, ASU Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Research Interests: Working memory; Episodic memory; Language processing in bilinguals; Older adults and individuals with cognitive impairments.

Leslie Baxter, PhD, Barrow Neurological Institute, Neurimaging Research. Research Interests: Magnetic resonance imaging and cognitive studies of brain-behavior relationship, especially in neurological conditions (autism, aging and Alzheimer’s Disease, depression).

D. Vaughn Becker, PhD, ASU Cognitive Science and Engineering, Department of Human and Environmental Systems, College of Technology and Innovation. Research Interests:  Evolutionary, social and emotional constraints on Attention, Perception, Memory and Action.

Russell J. Branaghan, PhD, ASU Cognitive Science and Engineering, Department of Human and Environmental Systems, College of Technology and Innovation. Research Interests: Human Factors and Human Computer Interaction in Healthcare, Aviation and Product Design.

Winslow Burleson, PhD, ASU CIDSE. Research Interests: Human Computer Interaction; Intelligent Tutoring, Informatics.

Michelene T.H. Chi, PhD, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Research Interests: Cognitive Engagement; Collaborative Dialogues in Learning; Learning Science Concepts and Conceptual Change.

Nancy J. Cooke, PhD ASU Human and Environmental Systems, Cognitive Science and Engineering Unit. Research Interests:  Cognitive engineering; Knowledge elicitation; Cognitive task analysis; Team cognition; Team situation awareness; Team training; Mental models; Expertise;  Human-computer interaction; Command-and-control of unmanned aerial vehicles; Emergency response systems; Healthcare; Cyber security.

Nicholas Duran, PhD, ASU Social and Behavioral Sciences at the New College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Research Interests: Cognitive dynamics; Communication and language; Deception.

James Paul Gee, PhD, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Research Interests: Linguistics; Socio-linguistics; Literacy; Video games.

Rob Gray, PhD, ASU Human and Environmental Systems, Cognitive Science and Engineering Unit. Research Interests: Perceptual-motor control in driving, sports and aviation; Haptic and multisensory interfaces; Simulation; Training and skill-acquisition.

Karen Harris, PhD,  ASU LLT Division of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Research Interests: Self-regulation and self-regulated strategy development; Writing and the reading-writing connection; Teacher quality and professional development; Students at-risk and those with high incidence disabilities.

Scott Marley, PhD, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Research Interests: Learning Strategies; Instructional Manipulatives.

Kevin McGraw, PhD, ASU School of Life Sciences. Research Interests: Behavioral ecology

Sethuraman Panchanathan, PhD, ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development; Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing (CUbiC). Research Interests: Human-centered multimedia computing; Face/gait analysis and recognition; Haptic user interfaces; Medical image processing; Media processor designs; Ubiquitous computing environments for enhancing quality of life for individuals with disabilities.

Beate Peter, PhD, Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences. Research Interests: genetic etiologies of speech sound disorder and dyslexia.

Maria Adelaida Restrepo, PhD, ASU Speech and Hearing Sciences and Applied Linguistics. Research Interests: Bilingual language assessment and intervention; Spanish acquisition; Language impairment.

Shannon D. R. Ringenbac, PhD, ASU Barrett, The Honors College for the Downtown Phoenix Campus; Program of Kinesiology, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. Research Interests: Behavioral neuroscience approach to exercise and Down syndrome.

Corianne Rogalsky, PhD, ASU Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Research Interests: Language; Working memory; Aphasia; Neuroimaging.

Ronald L. Rutowski, PhD,  ASU School of Life Sciences. Research Interests: Production, function, and perception of color signals in animals, especially butterflies.

Marco Santello, PhD, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering. Research Interests: Neural control of movement.

Zach Shipstead, PhD,  ASU Social and Behavioral Sciences. Research Interests: Individual differences in working memory capacity.

Thomas Sugar, PhD, ASU Department of Engineering and Computing Studies. Research Interests: Human Machine Integration; Robotics; Perception for Mobile Robots.

Thomas J Taylor, PhD, ASU School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. Research Interests: Machine Learning; Computer Vision; Probability; Discrete Geometry.

Pavan Turaga, PhD, ASU Arts, Media, Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Research Interests: Computer Vision; Computational activity modeling;  Mobility interventions.

William Uttal, PhD, ASU School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering. Research Interests: Cognitive neurosciences.

Elly van Gelderen, PhD,  ASU  English Department. Research Interests: Syntax; Biolinguistics; Mind/brain; Language evolution.

Kurt VanLehn, PhD, ASU School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering.

Erin Walker, PhD, ASU School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering. Research Interests: Intelligent tutoring; Computer-supported collaborative learning; Personalized learning environments.

William Yost, PhD, ASU Speech and Hearing Science. Research Interests: Auditory behavioral neuroscience.

News & Highlights


Danielle McNamara was recently honored by UC Merced with the Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award of 2015.  Read More .  Danielle has also been elected for a second three-year term as the Chair of the Governing Board of the Society for Text & Discourse.


Hunter Ball is now a post-doctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis.
Justin Fine is now a post-doctoral researcher at ASU’s School of Biological & Health Systems Engineering.
Erica Snow will begin a position at SRI in November.
Tamer Soliman is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute.

Recent Publications by CS Doctoral Students

Godwin, H. J., Walenchok, S. C., Houpt, J. W., Hout. M. C., & Goldinger, S. D. (2015). Faster than the speed of rejection: Object identification processes during visual search for multiple targets. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(4), 1007-1020.

Hout, M. C., Walenchok, S. C., Goldinger, S. D., & Wolfe, J. M. (2015). Failures of perception in the Low-Prevalence Effect: Evidence from active and passive visual search. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 41(4), 977-994.

Soliman, T., Ferguson, R., Dexheimer, S., & Glenberg, A. M. (2015). Consequences of joint action: Entanglement with your partner. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 144, 873-888.

Fine, JM, & Amazeen, E.L. (2014). Stabilizing Perceptual-Motor Asymmetries During Social Coordination. Human Movement Science.

Fine, JM, Ward, KL, & Amazeen, E.L. (2014).  Manual Coordination with Intermittent Targets: Velocity Information for Prospective Control. Acta Psychologica, 149, 24-31.

Likens, A. D., Amazeen, P. G., Stevens, R., Galloway, T., & Gorman, J. C. (2014). Neural signatures of team coordination are revealed by multifractal analysis. Social neuroscience, (ahead-of-print), 1-16.

Soliman, T., & Glenberg, A. M. (2014). The embodiment of culture.  In L. Shapiro (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition

Soliman, T., & Glenberg, A. M. (2014). What Does the Forward Model of an Expert Hand-Tool Motor Program Code? Comment on Semantics: A unifying conceptual framework for the selective use of multimodal and modality-specific object knowledge by van Elk, van Schie, & Bekkering.  Physics of Life Reviews.

Degree Offered

Psychology (PhD)
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

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