Cognition and Perception (PhD)

Department Website

Program Description

The Program in Cognition and Perception spans multiple subareas of psychology, such as perception, attention, memory, categorization, language, emotion, decision-making, development, motor control, and cognitive neuroscience. How do we identify the letter "a"? How do we perceive depth and shape? What representational resources are innate? How do human cultures, and individual children, go beyond innate representational capacities? How do toddlers make decisions about their world? How are explicit and implicit memories coded in the brain? How do we inhibit inappropriate responses? How are sentences understood? How are new concepts acquired? How does attention affect perception?

The Program in Cognition and Perception spans two campuses: NYU in New York and in Abu Dhabi. Our Cognition and Perception faculty page lists the faculty associated with each campus. A PhD student for NYU in New York typically spends five years in New York taking courses and carrying out research. A PhD student for NYU in Abu Dhabi will typically spend two years primarily in New York with multiple visits to Abu Dhabi. During those two years, students complete all or most of their coursework as well as carrying out research in collaboration with an NYU Abu Dhabi advisor and a co-mentor in New York. The subsequent three years are spent in Abu Dhabi completing the dissertation research and any remaining course requirements. For more information on the Global PhD program, click here.

In the Program in Cognition and Perception, students and faculty investigate how people perceive, think, and act. Research is central in our graduate training. Students are exposed to a broad range of knowledge in cognition and perception and they are trained to think creatively and to develop independent research careers. Students and faculty work closely with researchers in other departments and research centers:  (Neural ScienceComputer ScienceData ScienceLinguistics, and Philosophy). Every week there are journal club discussions and talks by leading researchers that take place within the Psychology Department, in other NYU departments, and at other nearby schools in New York City (see Events link). Ready access to researchers at several great universities and to incredible cultural resources makes New York City a great place to study perception and cognition.

Our graduate students begin research immediately. Research includes behavioral methods as well as measurements of motor responses (arm and eye movements, locomotion), brain responses (using fMRI, MEG and EEG), perturbation of brain responses (using TMS) and other physiological measurements (e.g., hormone levels). Students typically work with one faculty mentor, although lab rotations and cross-lab collaborations are also frequent and encouraged. Ours is a highly collaborative Program with many research projects that combine the expertise of more than one faculty member. Students benefit from interaction with their faculty advisers and the lively exchange of research ideas among students, postdocs, and faculty at the Cognition and Perception Area Seminar, many other research seminars and journal clubs in several research areas (Development, Decision-making, Concepts and Categorization, etc.)  and our annual Miniconvention. As a result of this focus on research, our students publish regularly in high-impact journals and go on to become researchers at the best research universities and industrial laboratories.


All applicants to the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) are required to submit the general application requirements, which include:

See Psychology for admission requirements and instructions specific to this program.