How to Apply

Admission to the Cognitive Science Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. in Cognitive Science

Electronic application is required for both domestic and international applicants. Deadline for all applications is December 1.

Apply online

If you have majored in other fields and you are encouraged to apply if you have been exposed 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 in cognitive science itself. 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.

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 an advanced degree at IU, so provide us with references that can illuminate your potential performance as a graduate 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.

Given the challenges many students are facing due to the COVID pandemic, we do not expect applicants to submit GRE scores for the current application cycle (for 2021 admission), and we will consider making GRE scores optional in future years as well. We do not require scores for a GRE area exam. Finally, we do not have cut-offs for GRE scores, preferring instead to use the full information available in your dossier.

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 describe 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—what you want to communicate is your forward-looking plan.

You need a transcript from all previous undergraduate institutions attended, and the university requires at least one that certifies that you have received a bachelor's degree (or “bachelor's equivalent” for international students).

Department & 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, visit the ETS website.

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:

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 November 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 (AI) 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.

Domestic applicants

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 819
1900 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47406-7512

International applicants

International applicants will receive an email once their application has been submitted. 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.

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

Ready to apply?