Graduate Program

Our Ph.D. program merges social sciences and natural sciences in the study of brain, behavior, and cognition in humans and animals. The program includes tracts or graduate training areas:

Students apply to and are admitted to a specific training program. Only primary faculty (with appointments to Duke's graduate faculty) and joint graduate training faculty can admit students to the training area(s) they are affiliated with.

Program Structure

  • All training programs lead to the Ph.D.; Terminal Master’s applications are not accepted
  • All Ph.D. students are full-time
  • All students are admitted for the Fall semester
  • All students are admitted to a specific training area
  • Only primary or joint graduate training faculty can admit students
  • All admitted students (domestic and international) receive 5 years of academic year support, provided they remain in good standing
  • All admitted students are also guaranteed support for the first two summers (assuming good standing in the program)

Interdisciplinary Focus

Many important questions are complex, requiring input from different disciplines and different levels of analysis. Duke's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience embraces this approach, using a broad range of methods and interacting with researchers in many different fields. Depending on one's field, training may include neuroimaging, optigenetics, laboratory experiments, clinical approaches, and/or field interviews. Our students interact with faculty and students in Neurobiology, Psychiatry, Economics, Statistics, Philosophy, and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, and have the opportunity to take courses in other departments as well as at UNC Chapel Hill. Overall, our graduate training environment is a rich one, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the diversity of perspectives and methods. 

Training Model

We use an apprenticeship model for graduate training, meaning that the emphasis is on working closely with one’s research advisors. For most of our training programs, research is emphasized over coursework (see Ph.D. requirements.) Duke's clinical program is based on the Boulder (scientist-practitioner) model, and is intended for students with an interest in research. Because of our emphasis on research, research experience is strongly recommended.

Connections across Campus

Our graduate students have many connections across campus. For example, The Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience training program is a member of the Consortium of Neuroscience Graduate Programs, which promotes interactions with a wide range of other students and faculty in an interdisciplinary setting. Many of our Clinical students interact with the Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) and/or faculty in the medical school (through mentorship by faculty in the Joint Training Program). Our Social students  often take advantage of the resources available at Duke's Social Science Research Institute (SSRI). Many Developmental students interact with the The Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and/or take advantage of the UNC-Duke Collaborative graduate certificate program in Developmental Psychology.

Resources at and Beyond Duke