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BCAN | Degree Requirements

Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience (PhD)

Offered by the Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must submit a completed graduate application form, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for the General examination (Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytic) and Advanced Psychology test, three letters of recommendation, and copies of all college transcripts. Students are admitted for full-time study only.

Degree Requirements

  • 54 credit hours of approved graduate work
    • Students who have been admitted to the doctoral program in psychology but do not have an MA in psychology that has been accepted by the department must complete the degree requirements for the MA in Psychology (thesis option) before they can be awarded the doctorate.
  • Specialty comprehensive exam. A student, with the help of his/her advisor, chooses a topic for specialization and forms a committee of at least four members (including the advisor), at least two of whom are full-time psychology faculty at American University. The student is given a personalized written examination on this topic prepared and scored by the committee members.
  • Dissertation: A written proposal for the dissertation is to be submitted to the dissertation committee by the middle of the second semester of the third year. The original proposal, or a revision thereof, should meet the requirements of the committee by the end of the second semester of the third year. The dissertation must be accepted by the dissertation committee, the department chair, and the university.

Course Requirements


12 credit hours from the following:

6 credit hours of statistics

6 credit hours of electives

18 credit hours of lab research

Please see also

Detailed information about the program can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook-BCaN

Prospective applicants should review the Admission Requirements.