Cognitive Science Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

RIT’s cognitive science Ph.D. provides an interdisciplinary study of the human mind that combines insights from psychology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, augmented reality, and philosophy.

Overview for Cognitive Science Ph.D.

Students in the Ph.D. in cognitive science conduct research on human perception, cognition, action, and language with a focus on the representation and processing of information within biological and computational frameworks. The cognitive science Ph.D. prepares students for careers in academia or industry and develops abilities to analyze data, grasp complex concepts, and interpret and communicate concepts for a wider audience. Faculty advisors come from across the RIT campus to create a thriving, interdisciplinary community that supports students on their path to becoming independent scholars.

Interdisciplinary Curriculum

The cognitive science program is jointly delivered by faculty experts from five RIT colleges, allowing students to develop valuable, career-enhancing interdisciplinary skills and communication competency as part of the program experience.

The five colleges include: College of Liberal Arts; College of Science; Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences; Kate Gleason College of Engineering; and National Technical Institute for the Deaf.



Cognitive Science Research

Ph.D. in cognitive science faculty, all sharing a passion for understanding the biological and computational foundations of human cognition - including memory, perception, attention, language, learning, decision-making, creativity, and problem solving. While faculty research interests are broad, our program emphasizes:

  • Context, culture, and cognition: Whilst the existence of cognitive universals is likely given the high degree of genetic overlap across animal species, there are significant variations in environments that are likely to lead to individual differences in cognition. Understanding how context and culture drive this variability can both improve our understanding of human cognition and lead to a more inclusive cognitive science.
  • Biologically-inspired computational models: Computational models provide insights into the mechanisms of cognition and how information is represented and processed in cognitive systems. Biologically-inspired models not only help us constrain our cognitive theories, they also allow us to apply the insights of cognitive science to the development of innovative and powerful computational tools.
  • Cognition and human action: Cognition cannot be separated from action. The purpose of cognition is to allow us to navigate the world around us in both goal-driven and stimulus-responsive ways. Therefore it is important to explain how cognition is realized in human behavior, and the role of cognition in guiding human action.

Admissions and Financial Aid

This program is available on-campus only.

Offered Admit Term(s) Application Deadline STEM Designated
Full‑time Fall January 15 priority deadline; rolling thereafter Yes

Full-time study is 9+ semester credit hours. International students requiring a visa to study at the RIT Rochester campus must study full‑time.

Application Details

To be considered for admission to the Cognitive Science Ph.D. program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Complete a graduate application.
  • Submit copies of official transcript(s) (in English) of all previously completed undergraduate and graduate course work, including any transfer credit earned.
  • Hold a baccalaureate degree (or US equivalent) from an accredited university or college. Since the program encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, students with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.
  • A recommended minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Submit a statement of purpose for research which will allow the Admissions Committee to learn the most about you as a prospective researcher.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation.
  • Entrance exam requirements: None
  • Submit one writing sample.
  • Submit English language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic), if required. Details are below.

English Language Test Scores

International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.

88 6.5 60

International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced sub-scores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.

How to Apply Start or Manage Your Application

Cost and Financial Aid

An RIT graduate degree is an investment with lifelong returns. Ph.D. students typically receive full tuition and an RIT Graduate Assistantship that will consist of a research assistantship (stipend) or a teaching assistantship (salary).