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Department of Psychology

Student Curriculum

Admissions Criteria 

Admission to our program is based on scholastic achievement, prior research experience, research interests and the Graduate Record Exam scores. Interested students will need to indicate the faculty they wish to work with and are encouraged to contact them beforehand. Applicants should consider research experience, letters of recommendation, personal statement and fit with the mentor.  


Students in our concentration study quantitative methods, core theory and related disciplines, such as linguistics and biomedical science. To obtain a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences, you must fulfill all requirements set forth by both the Graduate School and the CNS concentration. 

If you have completed graduate course work at another institution, you may submit supporting materials to the curriculum committee for consideration as substitutes for required core or complementary courses; however, because of the idiosyncratic nature of such courses, substitutions are discouraged.


Applications completed by December 1st will be given priority for admission into the program in the Fall and for funding. GRE scores may be submitted by using the following school code: 5818.  


Two Basic Methods Courses (6 hours)* 

PSYC 709 3 hrs Basic Quantitative Methods I 
PSYC 710 3 hrs Basic Quantitative Methods II 

* Alternatively, students may complete the [STAT 700, 701] or [STAT 702, 703] sequence to satisfy this requirement. 

One Advanced Quantitative Methods Course (3 hours)* 

PSYC 702E 3 hrs Experimental Design 
PSYC 821 3 hrs Psychological Measurement 
PSYC 823 3 hrs Multivariate Analysis 
PSYC 824 3 hrs Seminar in Quantitative Methods 
PSYC 825 3 hrs Introduction to Statistical Mediation Analysis 

* Alternatively, students may complete a 700-level or 800-level course in BIOS or STAT to satisfy this requirement. 

One Advanced Area Methods Course (3 hours) 

Course to be selected in conjunction with the student’s advising committee and with the approval of the program director. Can include additional advanced quantitative courses as well as more specialized courses in research methods offered as PSYC 888 Special Topics courses. 


PSYC 888 3 hrs MRI Methods 
PSYC 888 3 hrs EEG/ERP Methods 
PSYC 888 3 hrs From Image to Inference 
PSYC 888 3 hrs Behavioral Neuroscience Methods 
PSYC 888 3 hrs From Molecules to Behavior 

Ethics & Professional Development Courses (3 hours) 

PSYC 792A 1 hr Responsible Conduct of Research in Psychology and Neuroscience PSYC 792B 1 hr Issues and Ethics in Research and Teaching in Psychology 

1 additional hr to be approved by student’s advising committee. (e.g., PSYC 790 – College Teaching of Psychology) 

Breadth Courses (6 hours) 

Breadth courses are electives whose focus is outside the student’s primary area of study but can be complementary to their research focus. Courses should be selected in conjunction with the student’s advising committee and approved by the program director. 

Core Area Courses (6 hours) 

Specialized seminar courses are necessary for the student’s curriculum and research goals. Typically, these are core courses within the Department of Psychology. However, with approval of the advising committee and graduate program director, survey courses from other departments can be substituted (e.g., PHPH, Public Health, School of Medicine, Statistics). 

Examples of Core Area courses include: 

PSYC 801 3 hrs Cognitive Neuroscience I 
PSYC 802 3 hrs Cognitive Neuroscience II 
PSYC 702A 3 hrs Basics of Neuroscience 
PSYC 702B 3 hrs Basics in Cognitive Psychology 
PSYC 702D 3 hrs Basics in Learning and Motivation 
PSYC 703D 3 hrs Integration: Areas of Psychology 
PSYC 703E 3 hrs Integration: Areas of Psychology 

Electives (21 hours) 

Additional training is tailored to each student to enhance specialized training in the field. Elective courses can include seminars and laboratory work done as individual research credit hours (PSYC 889; maximum 9 hrs). At least six of these credit hours must be done under the direction of a graduate faculty member other than the major professor. Elective courses may be taught by any graduate program or professional school at the University of South Carolina, although typically students will take at least some of their elective courses within the program. Your advising committee must approve all elective courses. You must submit an Approval of Elective Courses to your committee. The standard time to do so is during your yearly Advising Committee Evaluation meeting. Electives are tailored to each student to enhance specialized training in the field. 

Dissertation Research Credits (12 hours) 

The Graduate School requires a minimum of 12 credit hours of Dissertation Preparation (PSYC 899). 

Total Credits = 60 hours 

It is recommended that anyone working on NIH Research take an ethics course every four years to be in compliance with Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) regulations stipulated by NIH. 

Course Substitutions 

All degree requirements for graduate students are approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, the student's major professor, and the Graduate Program Director. Petitions for exceptions to departmental degree requirements must be approved by the student's Major Professor, the Graduate Program, and the Chair of the Department. Course substitutions must be approved by the Advising Committee and the Program Director prior to enrollment in the course. Substitutions must have a strong written rationale from Major Professor (with approval from the Advising Committee). The Program Director may decide to bring the particular course substitutions to the Cognitive and Neural Sciences Concentration Committee for discussion and approval.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.