Programs by Campus


Cognitive Science
College of Arts and Sciences

Departmental E-mail: cogsci [at] indiana [dot] edu

Departmental URL:



Degrees Offered

Doctor of Philosophy and Joint Doctor of Philosophy in Cogni­tive Science and Another Discipline

Program Information

The Cognitive Science Program comprises an interdisciplinary research program and a doctoral degree program. Students carry out intensive research projects in state-of-the-art com­puter-based laboratories. There are two Ph.D. degree options: a standalone Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and a joint Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and another discipline, for example, psychol­ogy, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, or speech and hearing sciences. The program is designed to train students in theory development and model building (mathematical, for­mal, and computer simulation models), in empirical research, and in the development of the conceptual framework and technical skills needed for successful careers in research, teaching, business, and government.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Admission Requirements

Admission is by approval of the program’s graduate admission committee. Applicants should have an undergraduate major in Cognitive Science, Psychology, Computer Science, Philosophy, Linguistics, Biology, or Anthropology; basic computer program­ming skills; and basic knowledge of mathematics for science, including calculus and statistics. In exceptional cases, the programming or mathematics admission requirements may be waived and satisfied while pursuing graduate study.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 90 credit hours, including the core courses COGS Q520 (3 cr.), COGS Q530 (3 cr.), COGS Q540 (3 cr.), COGS Q550 (3 cr.), COGS Q551 (3 cr.), and COGS Q560 (3 cr.) and selec­tions totaling at least 16 credit hours from offerings listed in the Program in Cognitive Science or cross-listed with other departments, divisions, or programs. A maximum of 6 of these 16 credit hours may come from pure research courses (COGS Q799, COGS Q899, or the equivalent in another department). On the basis of their undergraduate background, students may be exempted from one or more of the core courses other than COGS Q540, which all students must take. Exemption from any core courses requires approval by the director of graduate stud­ies of the program. Students must also register for at least four semesters in the Colloquium Series course COGS Q733. In one of these semesters, the only one for which credit is received, each student will be expected to give a lecture on his or her independent research as a part of the Colloquium Series.

Research Project Requirement

All Cognitive Science stand-alone Ph.D. students are required to complete a Research Project . The project should constitute significant original research done while the student is enrolled in the Ph.D. program. Ph.D. students must decide on a supervisor and topic for their projects by the end of their first year and submit the Research Project Progress Report to the Cognitive Science Program of­fice. The project must be completed by the end of their second year; at this time they should submit the Completion of the Research Project Form.

Content Specialization

Each student selects a Content Specialization, an area of study that can be approached from the perspectives of the different disciplines within cognitive science. With the approval of the student’s advisory/research committee, any relevant area of cognitive science may fulfill the Content Specialization requirement. Some possibilities are Language and Speech, Dynamical Systems, Logic, and Human-Computer Interaction. Students must complete at least five courses in their specializa­tion, and these courses must be taken in at least two differ­ent departments. The Content Specialization should be selected by the end of the student’s second year in the program, and the courses selected must be approved by the student’s advisory/research committee.

Minor Requirement

Students must complete a minor in another department or program. Courses counting toward the minor may also count toward the student’s Content Specialization. The minor should be completed by the beginning of the student’s fourth year.

Qualifying Examination

Each student is expected to pass a Qualifying Examination by the end of September of the student’s third year in the program. If the student fails the exam, it may be retaken once, by the end of the student’s third year.

Prior to the qualifying examination, each student will be ex­pected to turn in a Qualifying Examination Petition Form with the signatures of the Director of Graduate Studies and Advisory Committee.  This form must be completed by the end of the student’s second year.

Students pursuing joint degrees in Cognitive Science and another discipline may postpone the taking of the Qualifying Examination by one year.  Any other students who believe they are unable to complete the Qualification Examination by the normal deadline must petition to have the deadline extended; 

(or) must complete the Deferred Qualifying Exam Option on the Qualifying Examination Petition Form

The examination is expected to have a written and an oral component and to demonstrate (1) in-depth knowledge of the student’s Content Specialization, (2) knowledge of some other area of Cognitive Science, (3) academic writing competence, and (4) the ability to defend a position in an oral setting.

In consultation with his or her Advisory Committee, the student will agree on the format of the examination. Within these con­straints, two broad categories of Qualifying Examinations are possible: (1) Conventional Written Examination or (2) Papers. Details regarding these categories are available from the Direc­tor of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Secretary, or the student’s Advisory Committee.

Joint Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Cognitive Science and Another Discipline

Admission Requirements

Acceptance into the Joint Cognitive Science Ph.D. program is contingent upon admission into another degree-granting program at Indiana University Bloomington, hereafter referred to as the “originating discipline” or “originating department.” Students must apply to the originating department, informing it that they also intend to join the Joint Cognitive Science Ph.D. Program. Students are required to make such a request prior to their qualification exams. There is no separate admission process through the Cognitive Science Program. 

Course Requirements

A minimum of 90 credit hours, of which 32 credit hours must be in courses listed or cross-listed in cognitive science, includ­ing COGS Q520 (3 cr.), COGS Q530 (3 cr.), COGS Q540 (3 cr.), COGS Q550 (3 cr.), COGS Q551 (3 cr.), COGS Q733: three semes­ters at 0 credits and one semester at 1 credit when the re­quired colloquium is given by the student, and at least 6 credit hours of breadth coursework not in the originating discipline and not among the Q-courses or pure research courses such as Q799 and Q899. A Q-course that is not cross-listed in any other unit may satisfy the breadth requirement with the approval of the student’s advisory committee. The 32 credit hours may include a maximum of 6 credit hours in pure research courses (COGS Q799, COGS Q899, or the equivalent in originating departments). Strong encouragement is given to interdisciplin­ary diversification. Note that courses may count toward the requirements of both cognitive science and the originating department.
Tool-Skills Requirement

Statistics PSY K300 or PSY K310 or the equivalent.

Qualifying Examination

There are two options for the qualifying examination: (a) an ex­amination in the originating discipline and a separate compre­hensive examination in cognitive science (these may be taken at separate times); or (b) a joint examination covering relevant areas of both the originating discipline and cognitive science, as determined by the advisory committee and with permission of both the originating discipline and the Cognitive Science Program. The cognitive science examination is normally taken after completion of the cognitive science course requirements. The examination may be repeated only once.

Public Colloquium

The student must give a colloquium as part of the COGS Q733 colloquium series advertised at large to the university com­munity, and covering some aspect of the student’s research in cognitive science. The research covered may be from any stage of the student’s career, including (but not restricted to) the thesis research.

Final Examination

The public and oral defense of the dissertation will be conduct­ed jointly with the student’s originating discipline.

Ph.D. Minor in Cognitive Science

Graduate students obtaining a Ph.D. in another discipline may find that that discipline gives them the option of taking a minor in cognitive science. To obtain such a minor, students must satisfy the following requirements: (a) obtain approval from the Cognitive Science Program; and (b) complete COGS Q540; one of the following: COGS Q520, COGS Q530, COGS Q551, COGS Q560, or COGS Q550; at least two semesters of COGS Q733; and at least 6 other credit hours in cognitive science and/or cross-listed courses not in the originating discipline.

Certificates in Cognitive Science

The Cognitive Science Program is extremely broad, ranging from psychology to business to anthropology to computer science, to name just a few. Students in other disciplines may elect to focus on an area or areas within the broad range of cognitive science. Certificates are open to students upon request; several different cognitive science certificate programs are described in the following pages. Note that certificates are not required for a joint Ph.D. degree. The student will inform the cognitive science office, the student’s cognitive science advisor, and the certificate director of intent to pursue a certifi­cate.

General Requirements for Graduate Area Certificates

  1. As soon as the student decides to pursue a certificate, a written proposal must be submitted to the Certificate Director and Director of Graduate Studies giving a detailed course of study. The proposal may be a revised draft of an earlier proposal not approved or an alteration of a previ­ously approved proposal, and may contain a request for a revision of any of the stated requirements.
  2. The proposal must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee. The student must file a copy of the approved proposal with the Cognitive Science Program office.
  3. The student’s advisory/research committee must attest that the approved course of study has been completed success­fully. At this time, the University Graduate School will be notified of the certificate completion. Ideally, requirements and course work for certificates should be completed at the time of nomination to candidacy.
  4. The certificate is awarded upon completion of requirements 1 through 3 and completion of the joint Ph.D. Achievement of the certificate will be noted on official transcripts.

Graduate Area Certificate in Dynamical Systems in Cognitive Science

Students will develop an understanding of problems introduced by a dynamical perspective on cognitive phenomena and of the theoretical and methodological means of addressing those problems as found in dynamical systems. Each student will apply this understanding and analysis to a content area of their choice including study of perception, cognition, motor behav­ior, neural networks, language, and development.

Specific Requirements

  1. Prerequisites. Students should have taken courses in calcu­lus (two to three semesters) at the very least. In addition, courses in differential equations, linear algebra, and (point set) typology would be helpful.
  2. Required course. Students must take COGS Q580 Introduc­tion to Dynamical Systems in Cognitive Science.
  3. Additional advanced electives. Students must complete an additional four courses selected from among the follow­ing: COGS Q550 Models in Cognitive Science; PSY P651 Perception/Action; HPSC X755 Philosophical Issues in Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics; LING L541 Phonetics; LING L641 Advanced Phonetics; PHIL P561 Philosophy of Mind; CSCI B551 Element of Artificial Intelligence; CSCI B552 Knowledge-Based Computation; CSCI B553 Biomorphic Computation; CSCI B651 Natural Language Processing; CSCI B652 Computer Models of Symbolic Learning; CSCI B657 Computer Vision; CSCI B659 Topics in Artificial Intelligence; PSY P717 Evolutionary Basis of Learning; PSY P615 Develop­mental Psychology; COGS Q750 Neural Networks as Models of Cognition; HPSC-X755 Fractals.
  4. Qualifying exams. At least one question on dynamical sys­tems must be included on the student’s qualifying exams.
  5. Dissertation. The student’s dissertation must include appli­cation of dynamical systems to the specific problem under study.

Graduate Area Certificate in Human-Computer Interaction

Students will demonstrate proficiency in a broad range of courses involving the applied cognitive analysis of human-computer interaction (HCI).The program will emphasize the theoretical and methodological issues associated with design­ing and evaluating cognitively compatible user interfaces to interactive technologies.

Specific Requirements

  1. The student must submit a written proposal to the Advisory Committee giving a detailed course of study. The proposal may be a revised draft of an earlier proposal, or an altera­tion of a previously approved proposal, and may contain a request for a revision of any of the stated requirements. The proposal must be approved by the Advisory Committee.
  2. Students for the Cognitive Science Certificate must com­plete an additional four courses selected from among the following to ensure courses are taken from at least two departments other than the student’s home department: CSCI A546 User Interface Programming; CSCI B581 Advanced Computer Graphics; CSCI B582 Image Synthesis; CSCI B665/B666 Software Engineering Management/Implementation; CSCI B669 Topics in Database and Information Systems; CSCI B689 Topics in Graphics and Human Computer Interaction; INFO I502 Prototyping; INFO I590 Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing; INFO I590 HCI Design I; INFO I590 HCI Usability; SLIS S561 User Interface Design for Information Systems; SLIS S637 Information Visualization; S661 Concepts and Contemporary Issues in Human-Computer Interaction; S635 OntologiesSLIS S566 Digital Libraries; EDUC P544 Applied Cognition and Learning Strategies; CSCI P565-566 Software Engineering I-II; EDUC R685 Human-Computer Interface Design; EDUC P600 Topical Seminar in Learning Cognition and Instruction; EDUC P544 Applied Cognition and Learning Strategies; SPHS S522 Digital Signal Processing; BUS S601 MIS Research Topics in Applications Systems Design; BUS S602 MIS Research Topics in Administration and Technology; TEL T571 Applied Emotional and Cognitive PsychologyTheory; TEL T602 Seminar in Processes and Effects: The Information Processing of Media.
  3. The student’s dissertation must address issues related to human-computer interaction. The Cognitive Science Certificate in HCI is awarded upon completion of the above requirements and completion of the requirements for the Ph.D. (either as a joint major in Cognitive Science and a home department, or as a Cognitive Science minor and a major in a home department).

Graduate Area Certificate in Language and Speech

Students will demonstrate proficiency in a broad range of top­ics that focus on issues related to language and speech. The program of study will emphasize mastery of language structure, language processing, and computational approaches to linguis­tic analysis. An independent research project exploring some facet of language and speech will be required.

Specific Requirements

  1. Students must complete at least five approved graduate courses in the area of language and speech.
  2. Courses in language and speech must be taken in at least two different departments.
  3. Courses must include at least one dealing with language structure and at least one dealing with language processing or acquisition. Courses in language structure include most linguistics courses, PHIL-P 520, and PHIL-P 720. Courses in processing and acquisition include PSY P623, CSCI B651, and periodic seminars on language-related topics in these departments.
  4. Students must demonstrate familiarity with computer modeling of cognitive processes. This requirement can be met through course work (COGS Q580, PSY P556, or vari­ous courses in Computer Science including CSCI B551, CSCI B552, CSCI B553, CSCI B651, and CSCI B652) or through a written report of research that includes a computer pro­gram written by the student. This report could be a master’s or Ph.D. thesis.
  5. The student’s cognitive science qualifying examination must include at least one section on a topic in language and speech.
  6. The student’s dissertation must address issues related to language and speech.

Graduate Area Certificate in Logic, Language, and Computation

The area covered by this certificate is applied logic; i.e., logic as applied to information processing. It is an area of research that is of increasing importance in artificial intelligence and comput­er science. Students will demonstrate their mastery of courses having to do with symbolic information processing.

Specific Requirements

The requirements include at least 18 credit hours of course work (including research and seminars). At least two courses must be taken outside the student’s home department. Each proposal for certification would need to demonstrate both breadth and depth in the general area of logic, language, and computation.

  1. Prerequisites. Students should demonstrate mathematical maturity by having taken one or more courses in the fol­lowing: set theory, discrete mathematics, abstract algebra, linear algebra, topology, and mathematical logic.
  2. Students must take PHIL P505 and PHIL P506 Logical Theory I-II or demonstrate equivalent knowledge of completeness for first-order logic, together with the Gödel incompleteness and undecidability results. If students demonstrate knowl­edge of this material, they may take other courses from the lists of advanced courses given below.
  3. Students must select at least two or more advanced courses from a list that includes CSCI B501 Theory of Computing; PHIL P550 Systems of Modal Logic; PHIL P551 Philosophy and the Foundations of Mathematics; PHIL P552 Philosophy of Logic; LING L626 Semantics of Natural Language; LING L640 Quantitative Linguistics; MATH M682 Model Theory; and MATH M583 Set Theory.
  4. Students must take a research seminar, either one gener­ally designated as such. Some examples: PHIL P750 Semi­nar Logic, PHIL P751 Seminar Logic, or MATH M781-782 Selected Topics in Mathematical Logic), or another seminar approved by the Logic Certificate Director.
  5. Students will be expected to take active part in the weekly Logic Seminar.
  6. The student’s dissertation must address issues in the gen­eral area of logic, language, and computation.

Graduate Area Certificate in Modeling in Cognitive Science

Students will demonstrate their mastery with a broad selection of courses involving mathematical and computer simulation ap­proaches to modeling, with a specialization in at least one area of modeling, and with a research project involving modeling.

The program will emphasize both basic techniques and applica­tions in particular content areas.
Specific Requirements

  1. Students must fulfill 18 credit hours of courses in the mod­eling area. Required course: COGS Q550 Models in Cogni­tive Science, and at least five additional courses in modeling (15 credits minimum).
  2. These courses must demonstrate both breadth and special­ization, and a grasp of both methods and applications. The course options given below provide examples of courses currently appropriate to accomplish these goals.The courses should include at least one course in basic techniques and methods (PSY P605 Introduction to Math­ematical Psychology; COGS Q580 Introduction to Dynamic Systems in Cognitive Science; MATH M447-MATH M448 Mathematical Models and Applications; PHIL P550 Systems of Modal Logic); and at least one course in applications (COGS Q750 Neural Networks as Models of Cognition; CSCI B651 Natural Language Processing; CSCI B652 Computer Models of Symbolic Learning; LING L611 Models of Linguis­tic Structure; PSY P648 Choice Behavior).The selected courses must be taken from at least two departments, excluding courses listed only in the Cognitive Science Program. These courses may not include a course whose content consists almost entirely of a research project (such courses and projects are separately covered below).
  3. Students must demonstrate a grasp of modeling in re­search, either through course work (COGS Q689 Computer Simulation Project; PSY P556 Independent Computer Project), or through a written report of research involving modeling (includes master’s or Ph.D. projects).
  4. The Ph.D. qualifying examination in the Cognitive Science Program must contain at least one section on a modeling-related topic.

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