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Director of Graduate Studies:

Alicia Grandey

For information on
The Graduate Program
please contact Sherri Gilliland
(814) 863-1721


Graduate Office
Department of Psychology 
125 Moore Building 
The Pennsylvania State University 
University Park, PA 16802-3106

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You are here: Home / Graduate / Program Areas / Cross-Cutting Program Initiatives / Specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience / Specialization in Neuroscience Graduate Curriculum Requirements

Specialization in Neuroscience Graduate Curriculum Requirements

The goal of the specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) is to prepare students for neuroscience-related careers. Towards that end, students will be required to complete several courses and participate in neuroscience-related research, as described below. Meeting the SCAN requirements automatically meets the Dept's breadth/minor requirement; if the two semesters of SCAN-related research are conducted with someone other than the student's primary advisor, then this Dept-level requirement is also met.

Course Requirements

The student should complete, by the end of the second year, the following core courses:

  • Foundations of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Psychology 511, 3 credits): This course examines the basics of human behavioral neuroscience including evolution of the nervous system, emotionality, fear and stress, face recognition and perception, social processes, cognitive process, and movement. It is typically taught by Rick Gilmore in the fall semester. Fall 2016 website
  • Methods of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (aka SCAN Methods; Psychology 5xx, 3 credits): The course overviews the techniques available to the behavioral neuroscience researcher including measures of autonomic nervous system (e.g., EDA, HR) and central nervous system (EEG, fMRI). Emphasis is on brain imaging techniques. It is typically offered by Frank Hillary in the spring semester.

Students are also required to participate in at least two SCAN-related topical seminars, which are offered in social, cognitive, developmental, behavioral genetics, and clinical.

  • Seminar in Contemporary Psychology (PSY 511, 1 - 9 per semester; maximum of 12): Critical review of readings on a topic of current interest, either in content or methodology, within psychology. Prerequisite: 9 credits in psychology. Two sections of this course are offered for SCAN students each year: Foundations of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Fall) and Methods in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (Spring).
  • Seminar in Cognitive Psychology (PSY 525, 3 per semester, maximum of 12): An advanced seminar in a topical or research area in the field of cognitive psychology. Prerequisite: graduate standing in the psychology department.  Sections covering topics in Cognitive Neuroscience are regularly offered for SCAN students.
  • Seminar in Child Development (PSY 529, HDFS, 1-6 credits): Readings and reports on recent findings in child development. Prerequisites: 6 graduate credits in child development, child psychology, or educational psychology, plus 3 in statistics. Sections covering topics in Developmental Neuroscience are regularly offered for SCAN students.
  • Seminar in Social Psychology (PSY 571, 3-9 credits): Historical development of theory and methods; determinants and principles of complex social or interactional behavior; contemporary problems and research. Sections covering topics in Social and Affective Neuroscience are regularly offered for SCAN students.

Research and Comps Requirements

The student must complete two semesters of SCAN-related research, preferably spending at least one semester with someone other than the primary advisor.

A member of the SCAN psychology faculty should be on the student's comprehensive committee and on the student's dissertation committee.

Other Activities

All students in SCAN are also expected to participate in program seminars,"brainy bunch," etc.

Application Process

Students who wish to participate in SCAN should file an application (available from the Psychology Graduate Office in 350 Moore or as a downloadable .pdf file)The application should be approved by the student's advisor and then submitted to the SCAN Coordinator. 

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