Cognitive Science Ph.D.

Use your Graduate Academic Bulletin

You must consult with the IU Graduate School Bulletin for official degree requirements and program details. The following is not the official record.

Students pursuing a graduate degree in Cognitive Science should use the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin.

Official requirements for our Ph.D. degree can be found by clicking on the Bulletin below:

2019-20: Cognitive Science University Graduate School Academic Bulletin

Ph.D. in Cognitive Science


For official degree requirements, you must consult with the Graduate School Bulletin. The information below is not the official record.

Coursework for the Ph.D. requires a minimum of 90 credit hours, including the courses lited below.

The six Cognitive Science core courses:

  • Q520 – Mathematics and Logic in Cognitive Science
  • Q530 – Programming Methods in Cognitive Science
  • Q540 – Philosophical Foundations of the Cognitive and Information Sciences
  • Q550 – Models in Cognitive Science
  • Q551 – The Brain and Cognition
  • Q560 – Behavioral Methods in Cognitive Science

Note: On the basis of their undergraduate background, students may be exempted from one or more of the core courses other than COGS –Q540, which all students must take. Request for exemptions must be made prior to candidacy. Exemptions from any core courses require approval by the Director of Graduate Studies of the program and Dean Daleke in the University Graduate School.

At least 16 additional credit hours from offerings listed or cross-listed in Cognitive Science.

A maximum of 6 of these 16 credit hours may come from pure research courses (Q799, Q899, or the equivalent in another department).

At least four semesters registered for the Colloquium Series course Q733. In one of these semesters, the only for which credit is received, each student will be expected to give a lecture on his or her independent research as a part of the Colloquium Series.

Research project

All Ph.D. students pursuing the stand-alone Cognitive Science Ph.D. are required to complete a Research Project.

Students should decide on a supervisor and topic for their projects by the end of their first year and submit the Research Project Progress Report Form to the Cognitive Science Program office.

The project must be completed by the end of the second year. At this time students should submit the Completion of the Research Project Form and a copy of their project report.

The project should constitute significant original research done while the student is enrolled in the Ph.D. program. With permission from the student’s project supervisor and the Cognitive Science Program office, the project report may take the form of two refereed conference papers on related topics rather than a single report.

Content specialization

Each student must select a content specialization, an area of study that can be approached from the perspectives of the different disciplines within cognitive science. Examples of content specializations include:

  • Language Processing
  • Dynamical Systems
  • Analogy
  • Animal Cognition
  • Human-Computer Interaction

With the approval of the student’s advisory committee, any relevant area of cognitive science may fulfill the content specialization requirement.

Students must complete at least five courses in their specialization, and these courses must be taken in at least two different departments.

The content specialization should normally be selected by the end of the student's second year in the program. The selected courses must be approved by the student's advisory committee. The requirements for the content specialization should be completed prior to taking the qualifying exams.

General requirements for content specialization
  1. By the end of the student’s second year in the program, the content specialization should be selected. Once the selection has been made, a written proposal should be submitted to the student’s advisory committee, giving a detailed course of study that includes at least five courses in at least two different departments. This proposal may be a revised draft of an earlier proposal that was not approved or an alteration of a previously approved proposal. It may contain a request for a revision of any of the stated requirements.
  2. The proposal must be approved by the student’s advisory committee. The student should file a copy of the approved proposal attached to the Content Specialization Proposal Submission Form (bearing the signature from the chairperson in advisory committee) with the Cognitive Science Program office.
  3. When the approved courses have been completed, the student’s advisory committee will confirm that the approved course of study, including at least five courses in at least two different departments, has been completed successfully. The student must submit to the Cognitive Science Program office the Content Specialization Verification Form bearing the signatures of the student’s advisory committee and director of graduate studies.

Students must complete a minor in another department or program. Courses counting toward the minor may also count toward the student’s content specialization. The minor should normally be completed by the beginning of the student's fourth year.