PhD in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences (ACBS) in the Department of Psychology

The 21st century has seen the beginnings of a new revolution in psychology, one in which novel questions have been posed, research methods devised, and sub-fields created. This is an exciting time in the field of psychology.

One of the traditional distinctions in psychology and other disciplines is that between basic and applied research. Basic research addresses fundamental questions the answers to which may or may not yield immediate practical benefits. Applied research addresses questions of real-world significance such as the problem of how to expand and improve human cognitive and affective capabilities.

This distinction has begun to dissolve. New programs of basic research often lead to real-world applications. Much applied research is informed by and contributes to answers to basic questions about the mind and the brain.

Drexel University’s PhD Program in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences (ACBS) is a research-intensive program emphasizing psychological questions of real-world significance, grounded in fundamental issues and methods of basic science. The ACBS program was designed to be small to offer personal interaction with mentors. It emphasizes rigorous quantitative and methodological training to empower students to pursue research without technical limitations. For additional information, write to Program Director John Kounios at

Careers in Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience

Many students pursue a PhD in the cognitive sciences with the goal of working in an academic setting; however, this is just one possible career path. A PhD from the ACBS program provides valuable skills that are in high demand across a range of disciplines and industries. With training in behavioral experimentation, advanced data analysis, computer programming, and computational modeling, graduates will be well-qualified for careers in:

  • Educational testing and assessment
  • Software development, with applications in cognitive modeling, artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Product development and marketing
  • Human computer interaction and human factors
  • Government health and military research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Laboratory, the Naval Research Laboratory, and so forth.

Graduate students in the ACBS program are encouraged to work closely with their mentors to identify their career interests and ensure that their training prepares them to be competitive in the job market.