The MA Program in Applied Cognitive Psychology: User Experience offers you training in cognitive psychology research and theory, with a focus on how human information processing informs the design of products and services.

User Experience (UX) is an empirical approach that puts human needs, cognitive capabilities, and behavior first, and then designs to accommodate them. Good design starts with an understanding of psychology and technology, and requires successful communication, especially from machine to person, about what is happening, what is about to happen, and what actions are possible. In this program, you will study the cognitive principles most relevant to determining human capabilities and design needs, and develop empirical methods for assessing the effectiveness of implemented designs and the overall user experience.

Program Highlights
  • This 48-unit terminal MA program will train you in three critical domains: cognitive psychology, user experience, and research methods and statistics.
  • A unique feature of this program is the practice component: you will be required to complete a field internship in human-centered design. Typically, this internship is completed as an independent study project with a core faculty member during the summer between the first and second years.
  • You will have the opportunity to work with CGU’s Career Development Office, where you will receive support and guidance in every aspect of career planning. Career planning is about the strategic decisions you make and the experiences you gain while at CGU to ensure you are strongly positioned to transition from the program into your desired career.
  • UX researchers are highly employable, and land jobs at companies across a broad range of industries, from tech to healthcare. Read the Nielsen Norman Group report on UX careers.
  • This program is STEM designated, allowing international students who hold F-1 visas to apply for OPT work authorizations for a total of 36 months (an initial 1-year period and a 24-month OPT STEM extension) of paid work experience in the U.S. after graduation.

Program At a Glance

48 units

2 years

*This estimate assumes full-time registration and pursuit of the degree. Actual completion times will vary and may be higher, depending on full- or part-time course registration, units transferred, and time to complete other degree requirements.

Fall preferred

Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences

MA in Psychology

Featured Courses

PSYCH 350ux
User Experience Design & Strategy

Advances a strategic method to quickly and effectively launch a product or service online and empirical practices that are a better guarantee of successful product development.

Interaction Design and Usability Testing

Understand and apply interaction design theory and techniques to conceive, design, and test responsive websites that run on the web and mobile devices.

PSYCH 350u
Applied Cognitive Psychology

Explores the most productive avenues for applying cognitive psychology to understanding and solving real world problems.


Provides a comprehensive overview of information-processing mechanisms of the mind, including consciousness, perception, attention, memory, and knowledge.

IST 340
Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining

Studies the data mining process goal of discovering nontrivial, interesting, and actionable knowledge from data in databases.

User Experience Research Methods

Provides a comprehensive review of the research “toolkit” needed to answer the full breadth of strategic and tactical research questions encountered in the field of User Experience and Product Design.


Cognitive Psychology (8 units)

  • Applied Cognitive Psychology (4 units)
  • Cognition (4 units)

User Experience (12 – 16 units)

  • User Experience Design & Strategy (4 units)
  • Interaction Design and Usability Testing (4 units)
  • User Experience Research Methods (4 units)
  • Independent Study: Field Internship (0 – 4 units)

Statistics & Research Methods (12 units)

  • Research Methods (4 units)
  • Intermediate Statistics (2 units)
  • Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) (2 units)
  • Applied Multiple Regression (2 units)
  • Categorical Data Analysis (2 units)
Electives in Cognitive Psychology, Methods, and Related Fields (12 – 16 units)
You are encouraged to take elective courses in advanced methods and statistics as well as in cognitive psychology. You are also able to benefit from related courses offered by the Center for Information Systems & Technology, including programming courses. Electives are selected based on your interests and with the approval of your academic advisor. Popular electives include:

  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
  • Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
  • Design Methods and Tools
  • Internet of Things
Faculty & Research
  • Kathy Pezdek profile image

    Kathy Pezdek

    Professor of Psychology

    Research Interests

    Memory & Comprehension, Eyewitness Memory, Autobiographical Memory

  • Danielle Green profile image

    Danielle Green

    Assistant Professor of Practice

    Research Interests

    User Experience Research, Product Strategy

  • Yan Li profile image

    Yan Li

    Associate Professor of Information Systems & Technology

    Research Interests

    Data science, Data mining, Analytics, Semantic technologies, Databases, Data warehousing, Business intelligence, ICT4D

  • Chinazunwa Uwaoma profile image

    Chinazunwa Uwaoma

    Research Assistant Professor of Information Systems & Technology

    Research Interests

    Internet of Things, Mobile Computing, Computer Communications & Networks, Healthcare Systems, Artificial Intelligence, and Cyber Security

Extended Faculty

Lise Abrams

Pomona College

Research Interests

Language and memory, speech production, tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) states, cognitive aging, bilingualism

Gabriel I. Cook

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Cognition, memory

Jennifer Groscup

Scripps College

Research Interests

Intersection of psychology and law

Alison Harris

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Cognitive neuroscience, decision neuroscience, neuroeconomics

David Moore

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Cognitive development, development of mental rotation, infant-directed speech, categorization in infancy

Catherine L. Reed

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Cognitive neuroscience, electroencephalography, human behavior and human factors, multisensory perception

Shlomi Sher

Pomona College

Research Interests

Rational and psychological levels of analysis; scientific approaches to the mind-body problem

Patricia Smiley

Pomona College

Research Interests

Language development, self-development, achievement motivation

Sharda Umanath

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Cognition, education, experimental psychology, memory

Megan Zirnstein

Pomona College

Research Interests

Sentence processing, individual differences in reading behavior and comprehension, bilingual language processing, ERPs, eye tracking

Request information about the Applied Cognitive Psychology: User Experience program

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Kathy Pezdek

Professor of Psychology

Regina Burch

Assistant Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-9421