Cognitive Sciences

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 29.9 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 29.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 15, 2024
155 place StudyQA ranking:5040 Duration:5 years

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Cutting across the information and life sciences, cognitive science is a paradigmatic multi- and inter-disciplinary research program with enormous future societal benefits, especially as intelligent artificial agents are becoming part of our lives.

In recent years, Tufts has built up a world-renowned faculty in Cognitive Science, some of whom have been prominent since the beginnings of the field. The new joint Ph.D. program has particular interdisciplinary strength in the area of human language, including theoretical linguistics, psycho- and neurolinguistics, reading and dyslexia, and computational linguistics, and it offers considerable expertise as well in other traditional subareas of cognitive science including animal cognition, human memory, behavioral/cognitive/affective neuroscience, cognitive modeling, robotics, and human computer interaction.

The five core courses - philosophical foundations, computational approaches, neurological basis, cognitive functions, and human language - represent five foundational fields in cognitive science: philosophy, computer science, neuroscience, psychology and linguistics. In the following, we list the envisioned courses with a brief synopsis of the course content and a pointer to existing courses at Tufts that can be used as substitutes (e.g., they can be adapted and cross-listed). Note that the "COGS" course designation below does not currently exist, but will be added soon.

  • COGS 200 Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science
    Synopsis:introduction to the philosophical foundations of cognitive, including many current issues in the philosophy of mind (functionalism, emergence, computationalism, supervenience, etc.) and philosophy of science (reductionism, theory, models, causation, explanation) 

    Potential substitutes: no substitute currently available. Daniel Dennett will offer this course as PHIL 191 through the Philosophy Department starting in Fall 2011 independent of the program approval. The course will be offered regularly at least once every two years.
  • COGS 210 Computational Models in Cognitive Science
    Synopsis: introduction to computational modeling in various subfields of cognitive science (e.g., symbolic and neural network models, artificial life and agent-based models, dynamical systems models) 

    Potential substitutes: no substitute currently available. Matthias Scheutz will offer this course as COMP150 on an annual basis through the Computer Science Department starting in Fall 2011 as a combined graduate/undergraduate course independent of the program approval as an upper-level service course for current students in the cognitive and brain science undergraduate program. The course has already been approved by the Computer Science Department.
  • COGS 220 Brain and Cognition
    Synopsis: introduction to neural mechanisms underlying cognition (including brain physiology, neurons and neural pathways, chemical and electrical mechanism) 

    Potential substitutes: PSYCH 231, offered at least once every two years (if appropriate courses are offered by the Neuroscience department, they can be considered here as well)
  • COGS 230 Cognition and Behavior 
    Synopsis: introduction to cognition and behavior (including cognitive phenomena and functions, architectures, language, memory, etc.) 

    Potential substitutes: PSYCH 232, offered at least once every two years
  • PSY 251 Cognitive Science of Language
    Synopsis: introduction to the cognitive principles and architecture of language

    There may later be other substitutes for the above courses. The decisions about which course to count towards the core course in cognitive science will be made by the Cognitive Science Steering Committee. 

    The following table presents the summary information of the core courses required for the cognitive science program and the approximate frequency of their offerings. Note that there are no conflicts with the existing undergraduate program as the courses are either already existing graduate course in psychology (with faculty committed to teaching them) or they can count for both graduate and undergraduate program (as for the 100-level courses listed above).

    Course Title Instructor Frequency
    COGS 200 / PHIL 191 Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science Dennett every other year
    COGS 210 / COMP 150 Computational Models in Cognitive Science Scheutz annually
    COGS 220 / PSYCH 231 Brain and Cognition / Core Course in Biopsychology DeBold, Kanarek every other year
    COGS 230 / PSYCH 232 Cognition and Behavior / Core Course in Cognitive Psychology Chechile, Thomas, Taylor every other year
    PSY 251 Cognitive Science of Language Kuperberg, Goldberg every other year


In addition to the 5 core competency courses, all cognitive science students are also required to take at least 7 cognitive science elective courses. At least 4 of these electives must be an out-of-department course from the pool listed below. 

Students can petition to count one 'methods' course as one of their CogSci electives. This methods course must enable the student to gain competency in a specific Cognitive Science Research Method (e.g. statistics, computer programming, experimental design) that allows them to carry out interdisciplinary research. In order to petition to have a methods course count towards your CogSci electives, please fill out this form. Please note: you must have the instructor's approval to take the course before submitting the petition

Child Development

  • CD 151 Advanced Intellectual Development
  • CD 155 The Young Child's Development of Language
  • CD 156 Developmental Neuroscience & Disorders Of Development
  • CD 195 Developmental Disorders in Language and Reading
  • CD 197 Learning and Attention Disorders
  • CD 250 Reading Dyslexia and the Brain

Computer Science

  • COMP 131 Artificial Intelligence
  • COMP 135 Introduction to Machine Learning
  • COMP 136 Statistical Pattern Recognition
  • COMP 150 Human Robot Interaction
  • COMP 150 Natural Language Processing
  • COMP 150-BBR Behavior-Based Robotics
  • COMP 150 Foundations of Scientific Visualization: Data to Understanding
  • COMP 150-AML Advanced Topics in Machine Learning
  • COMP 150-CLT Computational Learning Theory
  • COMP 150-FML Foundations of Machine Learning
  • COMP 150-PR Probabilistic Robotics
  • COMP 150-TUI Tangible User Interfaces
  • COMP 170 Computation Theory
  • COMP 171 Human-Computer Interaction
  • COMP 236 Computational Learning Theory
  • COMP 250-BCI Brain-Computer Interaction
  • COMP 250-MLS Machine Learning Seminar
  • MATH 121 Mathematical Neuroscience
  • MATH 155 Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos


  • PHIL 116 Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 117 Philosophy of Mind
  • PHIL 133 Philosophy of Language
  • PHIL 191 Morphological Theory
  • PHIL 118 Philosophy Of Biology
  • PHIL 192/COMP 150 AAA Artificial Agents and Autonomy
  • various topics courses related to cognitive science (including logic and philosophy of science)


  • PSY 124 Cognitive Neuroscience of Perception
  • PSY 126 Origins of Cognition
  • PSY 129 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSY 131 Neuropsychology of Cognition
  • PSY 132/PHIL 113 Cognition of Society and Culture
  • PSY 142 Seminar in Affective Neuroscience
  • PSY 144 Memory and Retention
  • PSY 145 Mental Representation
  • PSY 146 Comparative Cognition and Behavior
  • PSY 147 Cognition and Individual Differences
  • PSY 148 Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning and Memory
  • PSY 151 Syntactic Theory
  • PSY 150 Semantics
  • PSY 153 Biological Foundations of Language
  • PSY 155 Phonological Theory
  • PSY 196-02 Seminar in Language Cognition
  • PSY 196 Memory, Mental Sim & the Brain
  • PSY 196 Music Language & the Brain
  • PSY 196 Advanced Sem in Cognition
  • PSY 233 Core Course in Social Psychology
  • PSY 234 Core Course in Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 229 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSY 240 Mathematical Psychology
  • PSY 242 Seminar in Affective Neuroscience
  • PSY 243 Structure and Process in Cognitive Theory
  • PSY 244 Cognition/Learning
  • PSY 245 Issues Across Psychology: Representing and Using Knowledge
  • PSY 247 Nature of Scientific Discoveries
  • PSY 248 The Predictive Mind
  • PSY 250 Seminar on Decision Making and Judgment
  • PSY 251 Cog Sci Lang Processing
  • PSY 254 Psychosis

It is expected that over time additional courses (from the above and other departments) will be approved by the cognitive science Steering committee and added to the list.

Currently, three departments are associated with the joint cognitive science Ph.D. program: Child Study and Human Development, Computer Science, and Psychology. Students apply to and enroll in the joint cognitive science Ph.D. program through one of these departments either as a prospective graduate student or as a current graduate student after they have been accepted by one of the departments (e.g., after they have already started their Ph.D.).

There is no separate admissions process for the cognitive science Ph.D. program. Applicants simply indicate in their application to a home department that they would like to be admitted to the cognitive science Ph.D. program. The program director will work with faculty responsible for admission in the home department to determine the applicant's eligibility. The director proposes candidates to the Steering committee, who will vote on admissions. Note that this process will not conflict with the admissions process (or criteria) in the student's home department; only students that satisfy the admissions criteria of the home department can be considered for admission into the cognitive science Ph.D. program.

Current Tufts graduate students in one of the affiliated departments can send the program director an informal petition to be admitted to the cognitive science Ph.D. program. As with prospective graduate students, the director proposes eligible candidates who meet the prerequisites for the cognitive science program to the Steering Committee which then approves admissions.

To apply to the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in cognitive science, please use Tufts Office of Graduate Admissions online application.

  1. Online application for admission
  2. Scanned copies of all college transcripts
  3. Letters of Recommendation: one for certificate programs, two for the engineering management program, and three for all other degree programs
  4. Résumé or Curriculum Vitae
  5. Personal statement elaborating on your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study at Tufts
  6. Application fee of $85 
  7. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university
  8. Achieved competitive scores on both the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections of the GRE
  9. Applicants who are not native speakers of English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum TOEFL score of 90 on the internet based exam is required for M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. applicants, and a minimum score of 85 is required for M.F.A. applicants. The minimum IELTS score is 6.5. 


For students who show scholarly promise, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering offer scholarships, fellowships, and research or teaching assistantships to full-time students in doctoral programs. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences also offers awards to full-time students in master’s programs. Certificate students are not eligible for these awards.

  • Tuition Scholarships are available in most master's and doctoral programs for qualified students.
  • Teaching Assistantships are offered by most departments.
  • Research Assistantships are generally available in the science and engineering areas.
  • Fellowships are offered to students who demonstrate outstanding records of achievement and a well-articulated plan of study.
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