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Admission to the Cognitive Science Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. in Cognitive Science

Electronic application is required for both domestic and international applicants. You can apply online here. Deadline for all applications is December 1, 2019.

Domestic applicants should send admission materials (e.g. paper recommendation letters, transcripts) to the following address:

Graduate Admissions
Cognitive Science Program
Indiana University
Eigenmann Building 526
1900 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47406-7512

International applicants will receive an email once their application has been submitted. OIS (Office of International Admissions) will send an email within five business days with your log-on information for iStart, so you can upload the additional documents that you are required to submit.

Contact information for OIS:

Office of International Admissions
Indiana University
Poplars 221
400 E. Seventh Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Phone: (812) 855-9086

Keep in mind that the application materials are not a goal but a means to a goal. That goal is finding if your interests and abilities match those of the Program, and if you seem likely to benefit from an education from the Program. If you think it is helpful you can supplement the application materials with other data that help shed light on your capabilities, but this is not required. Some materials (the transcript of your bachelor's degree for example) are required by the University and cannot be waived by the Program.

Items that are important in the evaluation process (for both domestic and international students) include:

  1. Educational background. Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field and to have mastered basic computer programming skills and basic knowledge of mathematics for science including calculus and statistics. The best preparation for graduate work in cognitive science normally comes from degrees in psychology, computer science, philosophy, or linguistics, as well as cognitive science itself, but students who have majored in other fields, such as sociology, political science, biology, mathematics, and music, are encouraged to apply if they have been exposed to a wide range of coursework as undergraduates. In exceptional cases the programming or mathematics admission requirements may be waived and satisfied while pursuing graduate study.
  2. Letters of reference. Except in special cases, references should be from academic faculty. We ask for three letters but you may submit more; for example, if you have experience as a teaching assistant, an additional letter from your teaching supervisor attesting to your teaching abilities could help your application for aid. Keep in mind that the committee is trying to evaluate your potential to successfully complete a graduate degree at IU, so provide us with references that can illuminate your potential performance as a student. Try to get up-to-date letters. If you have spent the past two years at the University of Fredonia but none of your letters is from faculty there, it might raise questions in the minds of the Admissions Committee.
  3. GRE scores. We require GRE scores for all applicants and cannot process your application until we receive them. We do not require scores for a GRE area exam. We do not have cut-offs for GRE scores, preferring instead to use the full information available in your dossier.
  4. Statement of purpose. This is your chance to explain to us what your plans are. Briefly convey your vision of the future of cognitive science if you wish, but also try to give us an idea of your personal plan of action for the future. We are aware that such plans can and should change rapidly, particularly in a fast-moving area like cognitive science. You should tell us which research areas you are most interested in and about any research experiences you have had. You can use the statement of purpose to explain any anomalies in your record but in general dwelling on the past is backward-looking and what you want to be is forward-looking.
  5. Transcripts. You need a transcript from all previous undergraduate institutions attended, and the University requires at least one that certifies you have received a bachelor's degree (or "bachelor's equivalent" for international students).

Department and Institution codes:

  • GRE scores: Institution code 1324 (Indiana University); Department code 5199 (for any department not listed)
  • TOEFL scores: Institution code 1324 (Indiana Univeristy); Department code 99 (for any department not listed)

If you have any questions regarding what department and institution codes to use please visit the ETS website.

The following points are relevant only for international applicants.

  1. Applications from foreign students require additional processing by the University's International Admissions Office, so those applications need to be submitted by December 1 for fall semester.
  2. TOEFL scores are required for non-native English speakers. In addition, Indiana University has a university-wide special test for teaching assistants, and you cannot become an "associate instructor" until you pass it. Failing to pass that exam means you can only be a grader for courses, marking homework papers - and there is a significantly larger workload both for you and the Program in general.
Supplemental admissions materials are not required but you are welcome to submit any that help define you as a cognitive science student. Send updates of any information that is relevant to the admissions process, such as the publication of a paper or winning of an award. Do this even if it is past the application deadline; sometimes your dossier will be under consideration for a lengthy period. If you have work that has been refereed and published, send a citation to that work. Please forward a PDF file of research or publication papers to:
Joint Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and another discipline
Students must apply to the originating program for admissions; once admitted, the student can then contact the Cognitive Science Program to apply to join it for a dual degree. Please contact Susan Palmer at