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Specialization in Cognitive Science

Graduate Specialization
For more information on the general Graduate School policies, please visit their website:

Doctoral students in participating departments can obtain a Certificate in Cognitive Science.

  • Requirements: six Cognitive Science courses, at least four outside of home department.
    • Note: A list of pre-approved courses is available here. However, if you would like to count a course that is not on this list, please contact either the Director of Graduate Studies, Matt Goldrick ( or the Program Assistant, Benjamin Dionysus (
  • Benefits:
    • Certificate with Ph.D.
    • Incoming Specialist Orientation tours
    • Lab tours for all specialists
    • Eligibility for travel grants
    • Invitations to lunches and meeting with speakers
    • Input into selection of speakers and topic of tutorials
For a full description of certificate requirements and curriculum, please visit The Graduate School's website.

Student-focused Gatherings The Cognitive Science Program schedules two events specifically to encourage interdisciplinary community among students.

  • Incoming Specialist Orientation, is a chance for the incoming Specialists to learn about the program, and to meet each other, and other students who are interested in Cognitive Science, as well.
  • CogSci Fest, held in May, is for the Cognitive Science students to present their research. Undergraduates present their honors projects, and graduate students present the results of their Advanced Fellowship projects.

Travel Grants Graduate Specialists may apply twice a year for grants to help cover travel costs to a Cognitive Science related conference. We award ten of these $300 grants a year, and they are highly competitive. Most of these grants are given to students who are presenting a paper on which they are first author, although any Cognitive Science Specialist may apply.

Workshops The Cognitive Science Program sponsors and co-sponsors a number of interdisciplinary workshops. These workshops are focused explorations of an interesting topic in Cognitive Science. Recent workshops include:

  • The 2010 Annual meeting of the Memory Disorders Research Society
  • The 2010 MidContinental Workshop on Phonology
  • Workshop on Language Evolution
  • Meyerfest: A 50th Anniversary Celebration of Leonard B. Meyer's Emotion and Meaning in music cognition

Colloquia The Program sponsors about ten to fifteen speakers a year. Recent speakers have included

  • Rob Goldston (Indiana University)
  • Florian Jaeger (University of Rochester)
  • Lila Gleitman (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Morris Moscovitch (University of Torronto)
  • David A. Ferrucci (IBM Research).

Tutorials These are two-to-five-day teaching sessions, taught by outstanding faculty from other institutions. These are intensive classes in topics or methods of great current interest--often in areas that are not currently well-covered at Northwestern. For example:

  • Gerard Steen, (Vrei University Amsterdam) on Metaphor Identification.
  • Dale Barr (UC Riverside) and Dan Mirman (University of Connecticut), "New Methods of Eye Movement Analysis"

Advanced Cognitive Science Fellowships There are four one-year fellowships for continuing students. The students receive a University Fellowship and also receive a one-time grant of $500 to be used for travel to conferences in their field. These are intended to foster interdisciplinary research in cognitive Science, and are quite competitive. Each proposal must be sponsored by faculty member from two different disciplines (in most cases, faculty from different departments). These fellowships are awarded on the basis of quality and interdisciplinarity of the proposed research, the student's record in the program, and the faculty letters. We routinely receive many more good proposals than we can fund; in 2007, for example, we funded two of nine proposals, of which seven were well worth funding.

Incoming Cognitive Science Fellowships Each year, five outstanding students admitted to departments affiliated with Cognitive Science are awarded Cognitive Science University Fellowships. These fellowships are a valuable recruiting tool, and serve to foster interdisciplinary connections for graduate students at an early stage. Members of the Cognitive Science Program Committee nominate candidates from among the students admitted to their programs. Winners are chosen by the entire Committee on the bases of the overall quality of their applications and the interdisciplinarity of their background and interests. Once at Northwestern, the fellowship students join with other students in the Graduate Specialization.

  • For 2010-2011, the incoming fellowships went to Psychology, EECS, Learning Sciences, Communications Sciences and Disorders, and Linguistics.

There is no time limit on when you can become a Specialist. Email the Cognitive Science program assistant, Benjamin Dionysus, at, to find out how to do this.

In addition, the following links will be of interest:

Last Updated:3/27/2013