Graduate Program Overviews

The Department of Cognitive Science has two graduate degree programs:

Ph.D. Program Overview

The Ph.D. program in the Department of Cognitive Science has as its primary goal training a generation of cognitive scientists who can meld multiple existing disciplines into a new, genuinely integrated science of the mind/brain. A second goal is to train graduates who are competitive for positions in traditional disciplinary departments at research universities. Because many of the currently most exciting research developments recognized within the related traditional disciplines arise through interdisciplinary research, the training in cognitive science offered by our department can promote a graduate's attractiveness as a candidate for positions in a variety of departments.

For example, a student who is studying language processing in normal and brain-damaged subjects, and is trained in the methods of both cognitive neuropsychology and neuroimaging, with a solid foundation in theoretical linguistics and additional coursework in psychology or neuroscience, is potentially employable in a number of departments. A student with in-depth training in theoretical phonology, a solid background in computational and psychological approaches to phonological research, and ancillary training in other branches of linguistics is well-positioned to conduct state-of-the-art research and teaching valuable for both a linguistics department and a cognitive science program.

The training we offer in cognitive science is highly interdisciplinary, strongly theoretically oriented, and integrated to an extent only possible within a department of cognitive science.

The interdisciplinary training provided to all students includes

  • coursework providing literacy in all the following cognitive sub-literatures:
    • cognitive psychology and neuropsychology,
    • computational approaches to cognition,
    • generative linguistics,
    • philosophy of mind,
  • cognitive neuroscience;
  • teaching experience in a range of areas within cognitive science;
  • coursework introducing the full range of formal methods used throughout cognitive science;
  • research experience in at least two of the following methodologies of cognitive science:
    • computational analysis,
    • computer modeling,
    • empirical psychology,
    • empirical neuroscience,
    • linguistic analysis,
    • brain imaging
  • philosophical analysis;
  • in-depth interdisciplinary training in an area of expertise, with ancillary preparation for a faculty position in a traditional discipline.

In addition, students are provided extensive experience integrating the theory and methods of diverse cognitive sub-disciplines through specially-designed integrative courses and regular seminars involving the entire department.

Our program can offer such a breadth and depth of training because, unlike departments in the allied disciplines, in a department of cognitive science, 100% of graduate training can be focused on cognition. Integrated training across the spectrum of cognitive methods during the Ph.D. program allows students to emerge from graduate school as professional cognitive scientists.

M.A. Program Overview

There are relatively few cognitive science departments in the U.S., and students in cognitive science Ph.D. programs generally earn an M.A./M.S. degree on the way to a Ph.D. Most of the cognitive science departments nationwide do not offer stand-alone M.A. degrees. Few programs can provide pre-Ph.D. training beyond the undergraduate level. Our M.A. degree is designed to flexibly provide graduate-level training to a wide range of students with diverse backgrounds and interests. There are many career opportunities open to those with advanced degrees in cognitive science and related fields. Outside of academia, these include positions in lab management, grant and technical writing, market research and consulting, computational linguistics, human-computer interaction (e.g., work on automatic language production and recognition systems).

This M.A. in Cognitive Science aims to provide students with the opportunity to develop research-oriented expertise needed to pursue a Ph.D. at another institution or research-centered employment, to provide interdisciplinary education beyond the undergraduate level that will be useful for careers related to cognitive science. With this program objective in place, the program will support both the KSAS mission of “discovery – creation of knowledge through scholarship and research” and the JHU mission that seeks to “educate its students and cultivate their capacity for life-long learning, to foster independent and original research, and bring the benefits of the discovery to the world.” The department will offer two options for earning an M.A. in Cognitive Science: a research track and a course track.