MA Admissions

There are two MA tracks: Research Track and Course Track. The tracks, while similar in structure, differ slightly in both admissions and degree requirements. Please note that fewer research track students are accepted than course track students due to space and time limitations in our departmental labs.

The instructions below are updated for the 2020 admissions terms. Please review carefully. 

How to Apply

There are two stages to the application process.

Stage I

The traditional application must be submitted by the stated deadline. Applicants may contact potential mentors in advance. Only primary faculty members of the JHU Department of Cognitive Science may mentor MA students. It is possible that appropriate secondary mentors outside the department co-mentor an MA student if the primary mentor approves. Applicants must name their desired mentor(s) whose research aligns with their interests and program track (Course or Research) in the opening lines of the Statement of Purpose.

Application Deadlines
  • Spring 2020 Admission: October 15, 2019
  • Summer/Fall 2020 Admission: December 15, 2019

Stage II

Faculty available to take on MA students in the coming year will review applications and select strong applicants with whom they may like to work. The selected applicants will each be asked to design and submit a Program Proposal. Detail on the content of these proposals will be provided below. The interested faculty will review the proposal, then make a recommendation to the admissions committee. Subsequently, a final admissions decision will be made.

Stage II applicants should receive approximately one month to work on the proposal.

Stage II Notification
  • Spring 2020 Admission: Applicants should hear from the department by mid-November on whether they have advanced to Stage II.
  • Summer/Fall 2020 Admission: Applicants should hear from the department by early February on whether they have advanced to Stage II.

Contact the department’s academic program coordinator if you have questions about the application procedure.

Admissions Qualifications and Required Materials

All materials must be submitted online, on time, and in English. The information provided below is intended to define department-specific admissions expectations; this information serves as supplemental instructions to the overall Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences graduate admissions application procedures for full-time programs, with which you should familiarize yourself.

Note: Written materials composed by the applicant should preferably comply with standard academic formatting: 8.5″ x 11″ document, 1″ margins, 11-12pt font, double-spaced, and Times New Roman (or other standard style such as Arial). If citations are necessary, please use the style of your chosen field.

Research Track Course Track
Minimum
Qualifications
– 3.0 GPA or better
– Undergraduate degree in field relevant to cognitive science
– 3 credits of undergraduate research or equivalent
– 3.0 GPA or better
– Undergraduate degree in field relevant to cognitive science
Required
Materials for
Stage I
– Resume or CV
– GRE scores
– TOEFL/IELTS scores
– Statement of purpose
– Transcripts
– 2 recommendation letters
– Resume or CV
– GRE scores
– TOEFL/IELTS scores
– Statement of purpose
– Transcripts
– 2 recommendation letters
Required
Materials for
Stage 2
– Research proposal
see below for more detail
– Course proposal††
see below for more detail

Resume or CV: Be sure to include relevant background and research experience in an up-to-date copy of your uploaded resume or CV.

GRE Scores: GRE scores need to reach us no later than two weeks after the application deadline and must be sent by ETS. Unofficial copies sent directly by students will not be accepted.

TOEFL/IELTS Scores: All non-native speakers of English must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Unofficial copies sent directly by students will not be accepted. Scores must be directed to Johns Hopkins by following instructions provided here. All international applicants should review the information on that webpage regarding credential evaluations, minimum score requirements, and waiver requests.

Statement of Purpose: (~1 page) This should include specific academic interests that the applicant wishes to pursue. Applicants should include primary and secondary research interests (below), relevant background, previous experience, the mentor’s name, and program track of interest (course or research-track). For applicants with no previous background in cognitive science, the statement should describe their formal background, previous exposure to issues in cognitive science, particular interests in the field, and why this program is an appropriate program of study and research for them.

Areas of Interest

  • cognitive psychology
  • cognitive neuropsychology
  • cognitive neuroscience
  • computational approaches
  • generative linguistics
  • language processing
  • language acquisition
  • philosophy of mind

Transcripts: One unofficial transcript must be uploaded for each higher education institution you previously attended or are currently attending. All transcripts must be in English; if translation is required it must be from a professional third-party service, then both the translation and the original language transcript must be provided. If admitted, you will be required to submit final official transcripts to the graduate admissions office.

Letters of Recommendation: Exactly two letters of recommendation are required. In the online application you will be asked to provide the recommenders’ contact information, which will trigger an automated instructional email with a submission link to those individuals. The letters should be detailed, address the applicant’s suitability for study/research in cognitive science, provide an evaluation of the candidate’s previous research experience (if relevant) and future promise, as well as contact information.

Program Proposals: This document is required for applications who progress to Stage II of our admissions process. Applicants will be given specific instructions on how to submit their proposal and by what deadline. The program aims to give Stage II applicants 1 month to create and submit this document. When composing a proposal, you should reference the MA Requirements web page for program requirements and sample programs. During your drafting process, it is expected that you will need to consult with the faculty member who has expressed an interest in your application.

 Research Proposal: For the Research-Track. Specific required content is detailed below.

  • Front Page: Title, abstract (200 words), applicant’s full name, faculty mentor, date of application submission
  • Scientific Aims: (1 page) Specify the research project’s purpose
  • Background and Significance: (~3 pages) Explain the current state of knowledge and how knowledge will be advanced by the project
  • Preliminary Data: (~2 pages) Describe any of your previous research that relates to the project or that reviews relevant findings from mentor’s prior research
  • Research Design and Methods: (~3 pages) Detail the theoretical framework, experiments or other data sources, and methods of analysis that will be used in the research; propose a timetable for conducting the research
  • Expected Outcome: (~1 page) Anticipate possible discoveries of the research and their theoretical significance
  • References: Format in the style relevant for the faculty mentor’s field

†† Course Proposal: For the Course-Track. Include the planned areas of study and a list of courses to be taken during the time of study in the program. Reference the course track description and sample program on the MA Requirements web page. Review our course catalog and offered courses that may or may not already be published for the next term in SIS. Most courses will be from within the Department of Cognitive Science, but it may be appropriate to take courses offered by affiliated departments, such as Neuroscience, Computer Science, Psychological and Brain Sciences, etc.

Include in your proposal those classes that you feel would best develop your breadth and depth of knowledge in your areas of interest. You may use a MA Course-Track checklist on the MA Requirements page, or derive your own document format. You may ask your potential faculty mentor for feedback on your plan before submitting a final version. Courses are posted only one semester in advance. Courses are not guaranteed to be offered further out than that. For admitted MA students, it is understood that if the originally proposed courses are not offered while they are in the program, they will consult with their mentor to choose appropriate substitutions.