MA Admissions

There are two MA tracks: a Research Track and a Course Track. The tracks, while similar in structure, differ slightly in both admissions and degree requirements. Refer to the program requirements, sample programs, and minimum qualification (below) to help determine which track is right for you.

Please note: Fewer research track students are accepted than course track students due to space and time limitations in our departmental labs. Also, this MA program is not a pathway to our PhD program. Learn more about the PhD program.

We strongly encourage candidates from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups to apply.

Minimum Qualifications

Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA and an undergraduate degree in a field relevant to cognitive science. Applicants interested in the Research Track should have at least 3 credits of undergraduate research or equivalent.

Application Deadlines

Start TermApplications OpenApplications Due
Spring 2022SeptemberOctober
Summer or Fall 2022SeptemberDecember

Two Application Phase

The MA application consists of two phases: the application phase and the proposal phase.

Phase I: Submit Application Materials

Visit the graduate application process in addition to reviewing the following information. The details below elaborate on general graduate admissions processes to explain department-specific requirements. Applicants should read both sets of information and are responsible for meeting the application requirements laid out therein.

The following materials are required for the MA in Cognitive Science application. All required application materials must be submitted online, on time, and in English to be reviewed for admission.

  1. Resume or CV: Include relevant background and research experience.
  2. Letters of Recommendation: Exactly two letters are required. They should be detailed, address the applicant’s suitability for the program, evaluate the applicant’s research experience (if relevant), and assess their future promise. More information.
  3. TOEFL/IELTS: Non-native speakers of English must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores; some may qualify for a waiver.
  4. Statement of Purpose: (~1 page) Include specific academic interests the applicant wishes to pursue, primary and secondary research areas of interest (below), relevant background, previous experience, faculty of interest, and desired program track (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.
    • Format: 8.5″ x 11″ document, 1″ margins, 11-12 pt font, double-spaced, and standard font style such as Times New Roman or Arial. If citations are necessary, use the style of your chosen field.
    • Faculty of Interest: Identify the core faculty with whom you are interested in working. Applicants may additionally list one or two secondary or joint faculty of interest. While it is possible to have collaborations with faculty outside the department, only core faculty may admit students to this program.
    • Areas of Interest: architecture of the grammar; cognitive development; cognitive neuropsychology; cognitive neuroscience; cognitive psychology; computation in cognition; computational linguistics; deep learning; formal linguistics; functional neuroimaging; language acquisition; language and thought; language learning in aging, stroke, and neurodegenerative disease; language processing; machine learning; morphology; neurocognitive mechanisms of language recovery; neurocognitive mechanisms of word learning; optimality theory; orthographic processing; philosophy of mind; phonetics; phonology; psycholinguistics; representation; scene perception; semantics/pragmatics; spatial cognition; special populations (Williams Syndrome); speech perception; syntax; theoretical linguistics; visual cognition
  5. Application Fee: A non-refundable fee is required before submitting the application. Please see this website for fee details as well as for candidates who qualify for fee waivers. If you believe you may qualify for waiver, but do not fall into one of the categories defined by the Office of Graduate Admissions and Enrollment on that website, contact our academic program coordinator.

Optional: Personal Statement, Sample of Work, GRE scores. Those who choose to submit GRE scores should follow these instructions.

Phase II: Program Proposals

Top applicants will be invited to design and submit a Program Proposal. Phase II applicants should expect approximately one month to work on the proposal. These applicants are expected to consult with the faculty member who has expressed an interest in their application. Faculty will review proposals, then make final admissions decisions.

Research Proposal: For the Research Track, specific content is required.

  • 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, applicants may derive their own proposal format or use our MA Course-Track checklist from the MA Requirements page.

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. Also use our course catalog and published course offerings in SIS. (Note that courses are posted only one semester in advance.)

Include in the proposal classes that would best develop breadth and depth of knowledge in specific areas of interest. 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, Philosophy, etc.

If admitted, it is understood that if any of the originally proposed courses are not offered while they are enrolled, the student will consult with their mentor to choose appropriate substitutions.