Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science GIDP

Cognitive Science

Established by the Arizona Board of Regents: PhD minor 1990

Cognitive Science is the interdisciplinary study of human mental processes. Its fundamental goal is to determine the nature of human intelligence, and to define what is required of a physical system to produce behaviors ordinarily deemed "intelligent". Typical realms of inquiry (e.g., reasoning, decision making, language comprehension, memory, visual recognition) are addressed by integrating across disciplines (e.g., philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, economics and computer science). More than 58 faculty from 13 departments participate in the Cognitive Science GIDP.

The Program awards a Neuroimaging Methods Certificate (12 credits) and a Ph.D. minor (9 credits). Information about both can be found at: For the Ph.D. minor, students usually enroll in the Ph.D. program of a cooperating discipline; the minor is then designed in consultation with Cognitive Science Program faculty. Information about how to apply for the Neuroimaging Methods Certificate can be found at:

Program Contacts

Mary A. Peterson, Ph.D.

Kirsten Cloutier Grabo
Program Coordinator, Sr.

Program Address

Cognitive Science GIDP
The University of Arizona
1503 E. University Blvd.
Psychology Building, Room 524
P. O. Box 210068
Tucson, AZ 85721

Phone:  (520) 621-5365

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Cognitive Science Program Bylaws

The Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP) in Cognitive Science provides educational opportunities in a broad range of areas that encompass the study of the mind, brain, and intelligent behavior.  The Cognitive Science GIDP involves faculty members who share a common interest in cognitive-science-related research and education, regardless of the college in which they hold an appointment. The structure and organization of the Cognitive Science GIDP shall conform to the Guidelines for Interdisciplinary Programs established at

It is the responsibility of the Cognitive Science GIDP to provide a graduate minor educational program in the various areas of cognitive science, to publicize the program, and to maintain graduate participants of the highest quality. It is also the responsibility of the GIDP to encourage vigorous, productive research activities and maintain an interacting community of cognitive science researchers by providing seminars and promoting campus-wide interdisciplinary activities.

In the following sections the Bylaws that govern policies and operating procedures are outlined.

Article I.  Executive Committee and Chair of the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

A. Executive Committee of the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

The Executive Committee serves as the executive, policy, and administrative agency for the Cognitive Science GIDP. The Executive Committee is appointed by and responsible to the Faculty Director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs and the Dean of the Graduate College.  The Chair of the Executive Committee shall also serve as Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP. 

The Executive Committee will consist of five faculty members appointed only from the members of the Cognitive Science GIDP. Members of the Executive Committee will be appointed by the Faculty Director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs from nominations submitted by the Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP, themselves based on faculty nominations and on meeting the goal of representation across research area, gender, ethnicity, and rank. Executive Committee member terms are for three years, and are renewable based on the above criteria. However, if an Executive Committee member discontinues their term for two consecutive semesters, due to leave, sabbatical, or other reasons, their term ends, and a new Executive Committee member is selected to complete the existing term. Outgoing members of the Executive Committee who discontinue for the above reasons are not eligible for reappointment to the Executive Committee until one year after the termination of the previous appointment.

Together with the Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP, the Executive Committee shall:

a.  Establish Program bylaws and review them annually

b.  Develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures regarding curriculum, student supervision, and completion of degree program requirements and establish such standing committees as are needed for program operation

c.  Assist in publicizing the Cognitive Science GIDP intra- and extramurally

d.  Plan for future developments in the subject area

e.  Provide appropriate opportunities through seminars and forums to facilitate interactions of faculty and graduate students.

f.  Review faculty membership to ensure active faculty participation in the GIDP.

g.  Advise the Faculty Director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs and the Dean of the Graduate College on issues pertinent to Cognitive Science.

B.    Chair of the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

The Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP will be appointed by the Faculty Director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs. The appointee will normally be the same person serving as the Director of the Cognitive Science Program in the School of Mind, Brain and Behavior in the College of Science. The Chair will serve a renewable five-year term. At the end of a Chair’s term, the Chair will recuse him/herself from the process of nominating and electing a new Chair.  If requested by the GIDP, nominations may be forwarded to the GIDP Administration and GIDP Administration will conduct the election of the new Chair.


The duties of the Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP are:

a.  Accept nominations for the Executive Committee and recommend appointees to the Faculty Director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs

b.  Call and preside at meetings of the Executive Committee as needed, no fewer than twice annually.

c.  Appoint and supervise ad hoc committees

d.  Administer the Program’s colloquium budget and graduate student travel budget

e.  Organize and support initiatives to obtain extramural funds and donations

f.  Oversee publicly available information, such as the web site, catalog copy and brochures

g.  Administer the Ph.D. Minor

h.  Participate in GIDPAC, or select a member of the Executive Committee to attend when unavailable.

i.   Advertise University-wide GIDP activities and student awards

j.  Supervise the Program Coordinator's activities

Article II.  Membership in the Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

The Cognitive Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program consists of tenure-eligible faculty members at the University of Arizona who participate in graduate education and research in Cognitive Science. Affiliate membership is available to non-tenure-eligible University of Arizona faculty, and Courtesy appointments are available to non-UA faculty. It should be noted that the Cognitive Science Program is a separate unit, and membership in the Cognitive Science GIDP does not confer an appointment in the Cognitive Science Program, or vice versa.

A.    Membership

1.  Criteria

a.  Tenure-eligible University of Arizona faculty shall be nominated for membership in the Cognitive Science GIDP by submitting a request for membership and a recent curriculum vita to the Executive Committee. A two-thirds majority of positive votes of the Executive Committee shall be required for nomination to membership. Approved nominations are reported to the Faculty Director of Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs who shall confer membership.  Criteria for membership shall include demonstrated cognitive-science-related research activity, participation in graduate education, and participation in program activities.

b.  Participation in the Cognitive Science GIDP includes service as a thesis/dissertation director for graduate students in the program, service on a GIDP subcommittee, teaching a graduate course that counts toward the Cognitive Science minor, giving a Cognitive Science Colloquium, and/or attendance at and participation in the weekly Cognitive Science colloquium series. Continued scholarly and research productivity in a cognitive-science-related area is also required.  Membership shall be subject to periodic review and failure to satisfy those criteria as decided by a two-thirds majority of the Executive Committee shall result in loss of membership or change in status to affiliate membership.

c.  Members dropped from membership or changed to affiliate status may reapply for regular membership as specified in Article II, A.1.a.

2. Privileges of membership. 

a. Core Cognitive Science GIDP faculty will benefit in the following ways:

i.  Their research description and a link to their homepage will be listed on the Cognitive Science GIDP website

ii.  Eligible to serve as minor advisor for a Cognitive Science GIDP student

iii. Eligible to serve on Executive Committee

iv. Eligible to nominate and host Cognitive Science Colloquium speakers

iv. Invitation to attend academic, community-outreach, and social activities

v. Listing as Faculty of the Cognitive Science GIDP in their letters of appointment   

vi. Eligible to vote on GIDP curriculum and policies.



3.  Responsibilities

a. Members of the Cognitive Science GIDP have the following responsibilities:


  1. Meet annually and as needed 
  2. Submit materials for membership renewal when requested by the Chair. Renewal will be based on submission of a report detailing participation in Cognitive Science GIDP activities

iii. Vote on matters brought to the GIDP by the Executive Committee.  A quorum shall constitute one-third of membership. 


B. Affiliate Faculty.  

The Cognitive Science Affiliate Faculty are non-tenure-eligible and emeritus faculty at the University of Arizona who otherwise meet the criteria for Regular Faculty membership, and tenured and tenure-eligible faculty whose research is related to Cognitive Science but who do not, in a particular year, meet the criteria for Regular Faculty membership. Affiliate members are not voting members of the GIDP and cannot serve on the Executive Committee, but they will otherwise have the privileges and responsibilities of regular members as detailed in Article II, A.2.a and A.3.a.

Affiliate faculty who do not respond for two consecutive requests to confirm their interest in the Cognitive Science Program will lose their Affiliate Faculty status.   


C.  Courtesy Membership

Faculty with appointments at other universities may have Courtesy appointments in the University of Arizona Cognitive Science GIDP. Courtesy appointments are non-voting appointments. Faculty with Courtesy appointments

a.  may serve on graduate committees as "special members" with the approval of the graduate college

b. may, but do not automatically, receive Designated Campus Colleagues (DCC) status, which gives them access to university facilities such as the library

c, may  list a research description and link to homepage on the Cognitive Science GIDP website.


D.    Reviews

When requested by the Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP, faculty members in the GIDP will submit a report documenting their contributions to the Cognitive Science GIDP. This report will be reviewed by the Chair of the Cognitive Science GIDP, and will form the basis for recommendation by the Executive Committee to continue, drop, or change status of membership, as described in Article II, A.1.b and Article II, B.


E.    Post-tenure Review and Promotion and Tenure policies

University policies and procedures with respect to the role and weight that participation in interdisciplinary programs plays in Post-tenure review, and Promotion and Tenure cases, is continuously evolving. GIDP faculty members are encouraged to maintain records including their activities related to the Cognitive Science GIDP. On request, the Program Chair will provide a letter describing the level of a faculty member's activity in, and value to, the GIDP to whichever administrative person or committee is relevant to the case at hand.

 Article III.  Graduate Student Minors

A Ph.D. student majoring in any field at the University of Arizona can become a graduate student minor in Cognitive Science. To be officially considered a minor, graduate students must file with the Graduate College a Plan of Study, listing Cognitive Science as the minor area. This form must be signed by the Director of Cognitive Science or his/her designee. Graduate students meeting this criterion are eligible to apply for benefits, including graduate fellowships and travel funds.

Article IV.  Amendments

The By-laws shall be amended or revised by movement of the Executive Committee and a two-thirds positive vote of the membership of the Cognitive Science GIDP

Approved:  December 19, 2016

Last Revision:  February 29, 2012