The UNLV Psychological and Brain Sciences doctoral program trains students to become psychological and brain scientists capable of conducting independent research that meets international standards of scientific excellence. Upon completing the degree, students will be qualified to seek careers conducting research in academia and in other institutional and applied settings. Areas of research in which faculty supervise students are: cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and quantitative/social/community. The program operates on a mentor model in which students work under the supervision of an identified faculty mentor. We welcome students from diverse backgrounds and encourage research in topics related to multiculturalism and diversity.

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Areas of Study

The Psychological and Brain Sciences graduate program currently has four areas of study: cognitive, developmental, neuroscience, quantitative/social/community.

Cognitive Science

Area Chair: David Copeland

The cognitive area consists of faculty and graduate students who study a variety of topics: auditory and music cognition, event representations in memory, mathematical processing, recognition memory, memory models, anxiety, and working memory (see the faculty pages for more specific descriptions of their research areas). Students in the cognitive area receive training and supervision with experimental methods that include eye tracking, event-related potentials, transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation (TMS and TES), as well as common behavioral methods such as memory, signal detection, and reaction time tasks. Graduate students work with a faculty mentor, but those with diverse interests can collaborate with more than one faculty member. Past students have continued on to positions as post-doctoral researchers, academic faculty, college administrators, and applied work in government or private industry.

Faculty: David Copeland, Erin E. HannonColleen M. Parks, Jennifer L. Rennels, Joel S. Snyder

Developmental Science

Area Chair: Jennifer Rennels

Training in developmental science at UNLV involves a strong emphasis on research and use of age-appropriate methods for investigating perceptual, cognitive, social, and neural development. Students work with a faculty mentor who best aligns with their research interests to gain training and experiences that will enable them to become independent scientists. Much of the developmental research includes members of different cultural groups and questions related to diversity. By the end of the doctoral training program, students will be qualified to work in academia and other institutional and applied settings.

Faculty: Erin E. Hannon, Rochelle HinesJennifer L. Rennels, Rachael Robnett


The neuroscience area provides hands on research opportunities to investigate the neural basis of behavior. Faculty research includes analysis of molecular and cellular biology, psychopharmacology, electrophysiology, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, and neuropsychology. Active research projects include both basic science and translational investigations using human and non-human animals. We offer an array of graduate neuroscience courses that are required for specializing in neuroscience within the Psychological and Brain Sciences Ph.D. program. Faculty members in the department are also part of UNLV's Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Ph.D. program and are a part of a growing network of neuroscience researchers in the Las Vegas area. Prospective applicants have the option of applying to UNLV's interdisciplinary Neuroscience Ph.D. program ( and/or the neuroscience area of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Ph.D. Program, and are encouraged to consult with prospective mentors and/or the director of the Neuroscience Ph.D. program ( for help deciding to which program(s) they should apply.

Faculty: Daniel N. Allen, Stephen BenningDustin Hines, Rochelle Hines, James Hyman, Joel S. Snyder

Quantitative, Social, and Community

Area Chair: Kim Barchard

Quantitative, Social, and Community research uses a wide variety of data-collection and data-analysis techniques. The faculty members in the quantitative, social, and community area provide courses and individual mentoring in the use and/or development of advanced data-collection techniques and qualitative and quantitative analyses. These include the development and evaluation of tests of personality, intellectual abilities, and neuropsychological functioning; data checking methods; descriptive experience sampling, evolutionary approaches; and psychopharmacological, behavioral genetic, and molecular biology techniques. They also examine a variety of substantive topics, including gender stereotyping, health behaviors, microaggressions, and gambling addictions.

Faculty: Daniel N. Allen, Kimberly BarchardRussell T. Hurlburt, Renato (Rainier) M. LiboroMurray Millar, Rachael RobnettGloria Wong-Padoongpatt