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Department of Psychology

Cognitive and Neural Sciences

On this page you will find information for current students of the CNS graduate concentration.


All graduate students are encouraged to apply for extramural funding from federal and state agencies. In particular, there are NIH graduate fellowships and NSF graduate fellowships that, while quite competitive, are also very prestigious. There are also graduate fellowships from various other organizations and foundations that are usually specific to a type of research field; you should consult your mentor about these opportunities.

Ralph H. Tindall Fellowship

The Department has an endowed award used to support students over the summer while working to complete the dissertation. An announcement calling for applications for the award is made by e-mail each spring via the department's graduate student listserv.

Student Loans from Emergency Fund

The Department currently is receiving regular anonymous donations earmarked specifically for emergency loans to graduate student. Two loan categories have been established. "Short-term" loans will be made to students for a period not to exceed 60 days. These loans will be of $50 or less. "Long-term" loans will be made for periods exceeding 60 days. These loans will be of $400 or less and will be made at a yearly interest rate of 4%. Please contact Dr. Bret Kloos for more information.

The USC Graduate School has a limited number of competitive and renewable awards for graduate students in our program. Nominations for these fellowships are made by the Psychology Graduate Program Director and the process occurs in the spring of each year. You will receive notices of when to apply for these awards from the Program Director. The Graduate School awards a limited number of Summer Dissertation Fellowships to students in the final phases of completion of the dissertation, but the student must have no other support for that period of time to be eligible. More information can be found on the Graduate School’s website. The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences also awards some Dissertation Fellowships for the final year of graduate study and the process of nomination is in the spring. Again, you will be notified by the Program Director about the application process.

Other than grant funding from your mentor and travel awards from scientific organizations, there are two main sources of funding for student travel: 1) Graduate School and 2) Department of Psychology. You should first apply for funding from the Graduate School and this should be done as early as possible; they tend to run out of funds particularly in the late spring. After you receive word of funding from the Graduate School, you should apply for funds from the Department of Psychology.

For information on eligibility, restrictions, and how to apply for funding, visit the Graduate School

Prior to traveling, you must fill out the department Travel Authorization form and give the form to Graduate Coordinator for a signature. A TA form must be completed and filed PRIOR to the departure date or reimbursement of expenses will not be approved. Original receipts must be submitted for reimbursement of travel and lodging expenses, registration fees, and parking. Receipts for meals are unnecessary since meals are reimbursed on a per diem basis. Reimbursement must be consistent with university guidelines.

 Forms and Handbooks

The CNS Graduate Handbook gives the details of the program for all students of a given year. Students typically follow the rules and regulations of the Handbook of their given year. However, a student may elect to follow a more recent version of the Handbook but they must follow the program as set out in a single Handbook. The Graduate Handbook is revised every year.

The CNS Graduate Handbook is embedded within the Psychology Graduate Handbook and describes the forms necessary for various milestones in the career of a graduate student in our program. The required forms are available below. The CNS requirements for the current year are based on the last Experimental Program Handbook available  below. Students entering the program before Fall 2021 are technically in the Experimental Psychology Program and the handbooks below apply. 

For the Doctoral Oral Examination, Master's Oral Examination and Dissertation Defense, there must be a formal announcement at least one week in advance of the event. The Graduate Coordinator will post these announcements when she is informed of the committee composition, date and time. 

In addition, some processes require a notice to the Graduate School about success in a particular milestone. The Graduate Coordinator will take care of the notifications to the Graduate School once she receives the appropriate evaluation form or information.

 Optional website to create your Individual Development Plan:  MyIDP website:  Individual Development Plan

Annual Student Evaluation ( attach IDP to this form)

Individual Development Plan-USC version

Summary of Individual Progress (optional form for planning)

Approval of Elective Courses and Complementary Course or Lab Work

Application for Degree (Masters or Doctorate)

Individual Course Waiver Form

Qualifying Exam Proposal

Qualifying Exam Evaluation

Doctoral Committee Appointment Request (G-DCA) - Orals/Written

Written Comp Exam Proposal

Written Comp Exam Evaluation

Doctoral Oral Examination Announcement

Doctoral Oral Examination Evaluation

Doctoral Committee Appointment Request (G-DCA) - Dissertation

Doctoral Program of Study (DPOS)

Dissertation Prospectus Announcement

Dissertation Prospectus Approval Form

Doctoral Defense Announcement

Dissertation Defense Evaluation

Dissertation Signature & Approval Form (G-DSF)- complete in duplicate

 MA Thesis Proposal

MA Committee Composition

MA Oral Examination and Defense Announcement

MA Oral Examination and Defense Evaluation 

Travel Request Form 

Master's Thesis Approval Form (G-TSF)- complete in duplicate 

Request for Special Enrollment Status (Z-status) 

Assessment of Masters Thesis Form 

Assessment of Master's Oral Examination Form 

Assessment of PhD Oral Comp Exam Form 

Assessment of Performance in PhD Written Comp Exam Form 

Assessment of Doctoral Dissertation Form




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