MA Admissions

Jump to Application Phase I | Application Phase II | Tuition & Financial Aid

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 qualifications 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

We strongly encourage candidates from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups to apply. Our department is committed to supporting diversity and Johns Hopkins offers professional development, fellowships and resources to support graduate students from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

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 TermApplication OpenApplication Due
Spring 2022September 2021October 15, 2021
Summer or Fall 2022September 2021December 1, 2021

Two Application Phases

Phase I: Application

Review both the Krieger School graduate application instructions and the program-specific instructions in this section. Applicants are responsible for reading and for meeting the requirements in both. Questions may be directed to our admissions coordinator.

A separate application is required for each program at Johns Hopkins. The PhD in Cognitive Science and the MA in Cognitive Science are distinct programs and require separate applications.

Faculty and Areas of Interest

On the Program Information page, applicants should list which core cognitive science faculty with whom they are most interested in working. Other faculty, including joint/secondary faculty, do not admit students to our program; although applicants may express interest in collaborations.

Applicants should also identify their top two areas of interest in this section. Additional areas of interest may be detailed in the Statement of Purpose.

Areas of Interest
  • architecture of the grammar
  • cognitive development
  • cognitive neuropsychology
  • cognitive neuroscience
  • cognitive psychology
  • computation in cognition
  • computational linguistics
  • computational neuroscience
  • deep learning
  • 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
  • reading and writing
  • representation
  • scene perception
  • semantics/pragmatics
  • spatial cognition
  • special populations (Williams Syndrome)
  • speech perception
  • syntax
  • theoretical linguistics
  • vision
  • visual cognition

Required Application Materials

All application materials must be submitted online, on time, and in English to be reviewed for admission.

  1. Unofficial Transcripts
  2. Resume or CV. Include relevant background and research experience.
  3. Statement of Purpose. (~1 page) A focused and detailed statement that includes the applicant’s specific primary and secondary research areas of interest, faculty of interest, desired program track (course or research track).
    • Applicants with no previous background in cognitive science 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/or research for them.
    • 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.
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation. Detailed letters that address the applicant’s suitability for research in cognitive science, and—if relevant—provide an evaluation of the candidate’s previous research experience and future promise.
  5. TOEFL/IELTS Scores (international applicants)
  6. Application Fee or a Fee Waiver. If an applicant believes they may qualify for waiver, but does not fit the fee-waiver criteria on that website, contact our admissions coordinator.

Optional Materials: Personal Statement, GRE Scores, and Sample of Work

Phase II: Program Proposal

Select applicants will be invited to develop and submit a Program Proposal. These applicants are expected to consult with the faculty member who has expressed an interest in their application. Proposals will be reviewed before a final admissions decision is made. The proposal requirements are dictated by the intended program track of the applicant.

Research Proposal Requirements
  • Front Page: Title, abstract (200 words), applicant’s full name, proposed faculty mentor, date of 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 proposed faculty mentor’s field.
Course Proposal Requirements

Course Track applicants may derive their own proposal format or use the MA Course-Track checklist from the MA Requirements page. Proposals should include the planned areas of study and a list of courses to be taken during the time of study in the program. 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.

Applicants should reference the course track description and sample program when developing their course proposal as well as the course catalog and published course offerings in SIS. (Note that courses are posted only one semester in advance.)

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

Tuition and Financial Aid

Departmental funding is not available for students in this program, though a 50%, one-year reduction in fall/spring tuition is offered to students with JHU undergraduate degrees. Students are encouraged to seek funding from internal and external sources. Here are some resources to start your search.