Cognitive psychology involves studying and understanding how people think. Professionally, someone with a doctorate can find him- or herself involved in everything from helping autistic children adapt to real-world situations to helping law enforcement figure out a perpetrator’s next move. Marketers, engineering departments, human factors consultants, and legal consultants are among the many other employers that also need doctors of cognitive psychology on their teams.

With a doctorate degree in cognitive psychology earned online, you are eligible to apply for a license and the ability to start your career in cognitive psychology. You can also obtain supervisory positions that aren’t open to unlicensed practitioners, and this can greatly improve your earning potential. Most people get a doctorate degree in order to access these benefits.

What Will I Learn in an Online Cognitive Psychology Doctorate Program?

A standard online cognitive psychology doctorate degree program expands on what you’ve learned in the process of getting your master’s. It will also include practicum hours, the amount of which varies depending on the university. You should expect to do a dissertation or thesis, as well.

The names of the courses you take may vary depending on the school you enroll in, but with accredited programs, the concepts covered will be similar regardless of the titles. This is because schools must teach certain materials in order to attain program accreditation. The materials are chosen because the accrediting agency, such as the APA or CACREP, believes that they are essential to the good practice of clinical psychology.

According to Syracuse University, the concepts learned will include:

  • Statistics
  • Methods
  • Cognitive and neural bases
  • Electives for subjects outside of cognitive psychology
  • Completion of a research training project
  • Successful completion and defense of a dissertation
  • Passage of a qualifying exam

If you haven’t already completed enough practicum hours, some programs will include those in the graduation requirements. In that case, the online program will get you connected with an internship or other opportunity for supervised practice within your own community.

Typically, there will be between 80 and 90 credit hours of coursework involved. The practicum requirements vary much more and depend partly on the licensing requirements in the state that has the university.

What To Look For in an Online Cognitive Psychology Doctorate Program?

When considering online Ph.D. and PsyD programs in Cognitive Psychology, there are several crucial factors to consider. Accreditation is of utmost importance to ensure that the program meets rigorous academic standards and is recognized by reputable accrediting bodies. Look for programs accredited by recognized organizations in the field of psychology, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) or other relevant regional accrediting bodies.

The curriculum of the program should be comprehensive and cover a broad range of topics relevant to cognitive psychology. Look for programs that offer courses on cognitive processes, cognitive neuroscience, perception, attention, memory, language, problem-solving, decision-making, research methodologies, and advanced topics in cognitive psychology. A well-rounded curriculum will equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to understand the complex workings of the human mind.

Evaluate the qualifications and expertise of the faculty members in the program. They should possess strong academic backgrounds in cognitive psychology, with experience conducting research or working in applied cognitive psychology settings. Faculty members who have published research or have expertise in specific areas of cognitive psychology can greatly enhance the learning experience and provide valuable guidance for research or practical applications.

Access to resources is crucial for an online program. Ensure that the program provides students with access to online databases, scholarly journals, and other relevant resources in the field of cognitive psychology. Additionally, look for programs that offer interactive online platforms that foster collaboration and discussion among students. This can create a dynamic learning environment and facilitate meaningful interactions with peers and faculty members.

Practical experiences are invaluable in a cognitive psychology program. Look for programs that provide opportunities for practical application, such as research projects, internships, or supervised practicum experiences. These experiences allow students to apply cognitive psychology principles, develop research skills, and gain practical insights into real-world cognitive phenomena.

Consider the support services offered by the program, such as mentorship, career guidance, and networking opportunities within the cognitive psychology community. Look for programs that provide access to experienced professionals who can offer mentorship and guidance throughout your doctoral journey. Networking opportunities can help you connect with professionals in the field and create potential collaborations or career advancement prospects.

Admissions Requirements for a Doctorate in Cognitive Psychology

Each university has its own admission requirements, but many of them overlap enough for them to be expected. Here are some of the most common:

  • An application
  • In some cases, a fee
  • Certified transcripts of your master’s and undergraduate studies
  • GRE or equivalent scores
  • A minimum master’s or undergraduate GPA
  • A master’s degree in cognitive psychology or a closely-related subject
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Essays, presentations, or other expositions on your reasons for desiring to enter the program
  • An interview with one or more admissions officers

Sometimes, requirements will depend on where you got your master’s degree. For example, schools will often waive the requirement for transcripts if you got your master’s from the same one, because the records are already there in their office. The same is true for your GRE scores and other background documentation that the school would already have on record if you obtained your master’s there.

List of Cognitive Psychology Doctorate Degree Programs

Find an online or campus-based doctorate program in cognitive psychology today – our state-by-state listings make it easy to find a great program near you.

Jump to Your State Listings

North Carolina

Graduate Certificate Programs
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
(704) 687-2000


4400 University Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
(703) 993-1000

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Joel Gill
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