To be admitted to the PhD program, applicants must satisfy the requirements for admission to the Graduate School and be formally accepted by the admissions committee of the graduate school as a candidate for the PhD program. Admission is highly competitive, we expect to make offers to four applicants. Our department is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment.

Application procedure

To apply for our PhD program an applicant must have earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a college, university, or technical school of acceptable standing. Applicants do not need an MA to apply. Students in their final year of undergraduate study may be admitted on the condition that their bachelor’s degree is awarded before they enroll in our graduate program in September.

Applicants will select an admission track at the moment of application, between the three options below. The admission tracks group areas of specialization in the program, you are not expected to be educated in both subfield in your chosen admission track.

  1. Philosophy and linguistics
  2. Psychology and social science
  3. Neuroscience and modeling

We are interested in recruiting students with a well-rounded education and the ability to communicate usefully about science with scholars from multiple fields within cognitive science. Your application should concentrate on your strengths, which will naturally involve your field of specialization, but your research statement and writing sample must be understandable to scholars in the other field of specialization within your admission track. Ideally, your application will also evidence a genuine interest in bridging the gap with subfields in the other admission tracks.

Applications must be submitted via the online application portal, no materials submitted by email will be considered. The admissions portal is managed by our collegiate university Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL).


The application file involves personal contact information, demographic information, and prior education. Assessment of your application will be centered in the following attachments which you must provide at the moment of application:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Academic transcripts from each college/university attended
  • Writing sample
  • Research statement
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Academic CV
  • Copy of your passport / EU identification card
  • Contacts of at least two references, three if you prefer, who will be contacted by the School to provide letters of recommendation for you

You can submit scanned copies of transcripts for the application, but these will be considered unofficial. Upon acceptance into the program, we will require that you send official versions by mail.

Deadlines and selection process

Students are only admitted into the program for the Fall semester. The application deadline is January 31, 2019 for the academic year starting in September 2019. Decisions are communicated to applicants by the end of February. For the academic year 2019–2020, we expect to make offers to four applicants and to wait-list another four applicants. At the end of February we will select a group of admitted and wait-listed applicants who will be invited to visit the department.

Prospective students will spend two or three days in Paris, housed by current graduate students in our department. They will get a chance to meet with faculty members and current graduate students, attend lab meetings and talks in the department, visit the School, and get to know Paris. We will do our best to cover all expenses for invited applicants.


Dec 11 2018 Students can apply for the program

Jan 31 2019 
23:59 Central European Time) Deadline for applications

end of Feb 2019 Admitted and wait-listed applicants are contacted

mid Mar 2019 Prospective students visit the department

Apr 15 2019Deadline for admitted students'decisions

Application material

Assessment of your application will focus on the elements below. Please study this section carefully if you are applying.

Statement of purpose

  • Strict one page limit;
  • The statement of purpose is meant to give us an idea of who you are and what you want from your graduate education and your future career;
  • Tell us about your interests in cognitive science, how you discovered the field, and what kind of career you would like;
  • Explain your interest specifically in our PhD program;
  • Use the statement to put any unusual elements in your CV or transcripts in context.

Writing sample

  • No page limit, 10–30 pages is appropriate;
  • This is a piece of original research you conducted; its purpose is to demonstrate your ability to do research and to communicate your findings in writing;
  • It must have been written by you; co-authored submissions will be considered at the discretion of the admissions committee, and only if the precise contribution of the applicant is well explained in the letters of recommendation;
  • The writing sample will typically be within your subfield of cognitive science and should be generally understandable to a scholar within our admission track;
  • The writing sample needn’t have been published or submitted anywhere;
  • Examples include a high-quality term paper, a BA or MA thesis,

Research statement

  • Strict one page limit;
  • The research statement should show us where specifically your interests lie in cognitive science and within your subfield;
  • Tell us about serious research projects you’ve engaged in, where you predict you research will go if you join our PhD program;
  • Important: your research statement must include the names of two researchers in our department that you see yourself working with, along with explanations of your choices.

Proof of English

Letters of recommendation

  • You must provide the contact information of two referees who know you well enough to write recommendation letters in support of your application;
  • You may provide the contact information of an optional third referee;
  • You should consult with your potential referees in advance of putting down their names, make sure that they agree to write positive and informative letters in support of your application;
  • Referees will be automatically contacted by the application portal as soon as your application is submitted, not before;
  • To ensure full consideration, your referees should have submitted their letters via the online system by the January 31 deadline; letters received after that deadline are not guaranteed to make it to your file.


This programme is open to students who have a bachelor degree in psychology, biology, linguistics, philosophy, social science, mathematics, or computer science. It is also open to medical and engineering students. Other backgrounds are eligible and are considered on a case by case basis. 
We expect students to have strong learning skills and be hard-working and self-motivated to assimilate knowledge in other areas. In addition to the qualities necessary for research (attention to detail, rigor, scepticism, but also curiosity, independence and initiative), students must demonstrate good written and oral communication skills. 

Application process 

The process involves an application file and interview(s), plus a research project for M2 applicants. 
Most candidates apply to the first year, in the major that best corresponds to their initial training. Number of slots available in M1 : 35 . 

Candidates who already hold an M1 or equivalent degree can also apply directly to M2. Number of slots available in M2 : 48, thus a dozen for direct admissions. 
Because direct M2 applications imply the submission of a research project in a host laboratory for the M2 internship, M2 applicants are encouraged to get in touch with laboratories right from the beginning of the application process. For this purpose, they may use the list of Cogmaster-affiliated laboratories, and the list of research internship proposals. It should be noted that these lists are indicative, not limitative. 

In preparing your application, please include the following:

  • On-line application form
  • Résumé
  • Motivation letter
    This is a very important element of your application. It does not have a set format - except that it should not exceed 2 pages. Effective statements typically demonstrate applicants' familiarity with the field, and their specific interests and commitment to cognitive science study. It is not necessary to repeat the information already present in your Vitae and more important to highlight your intellectual, scientific or professional development than your personal experiences. You should indicate how your interests relate to the special strengths of our program, so that we can get a sense of how you would fit in, and benefit from studying in the Cogmaster. It is also helpful if you indicate whatever research plans or area of study you have in mind at present.
  • All higher education grade transcripts and diplomas (with French or English translations, if originals are in another language)
  • Writing sample (thesis, essay, article, internship or lab report - mandatory for M2 and DENS applications).
    Please upload one document that best illustrates your writing skills. This can be a thesis, an essay that you submitted for course credit, or any other piece of academic writing. If you are not the sole author, please indicate very precisely what your contribution was.
  • Research project (mandatory for M2 application).
    This is the project for the internship that will occupy the second semester, in 2 pages maximum. The project should be agreed with a designated research supervisor, which implies that you should contact researchers affiliated with Cogmaster as soon as possible in order to discuss internship options.
    In the application you will have to indicate the contact details of your research supervisor, in order for him/her to confirm his/her agreement to supervise your internship. In case you have two co-supervisors, you may indicate both. If your direct supervisor is a postdoctoral researcher or PhD student, you need to indicate the contact details of their academic supervisor, the person with a permanent academic position who can take the responsibility for engaging the lab’s resources and hosting your internship.
  • Recommendation letters (mandatory)

Submission deadlines

Fast-track application session
The fast-track application session is open exclusively to candidates who need a rapid acceptance decision, for instance to apply for funding or for a visa. All applications to the fast-track session must be duly justified, with mention of the relevant institutions requiring early decision and deadlines at which the reply is needed. Applicants who are not accepted via the fast-track session are welcome to apply to the normal session.

  • Online applications : From January 7th to 31th 2019
  • Eligibility decision: February 1st 2019
  • For eligible applicants, interview dates : From February 4th to 14th.
  • Acceptance decision: February 15th (for M2 applicants, acceptance is conditional on the submission of a research project before May 27th 2019).

Normal application session

  • Online applications : From March 4th 2019 to April 30th 2019
  • Eligibility decision : May 10 2019
  • For applicants eligible for entry to the M1, interview dates : between May 13th and 27th 2019.
  • For applicants eligible for entry to the M2, interview dates : May 24th or 27th 2019.
  • Deadline to upload research projects, for M2 applicants : May 27th 2019
  • Final acceptance decision: May 29th 2019 for M2 candidates, June 6th 2019 for M1 candidates.

- Please follow this link to apply in Master 1 (normal session)
Please follow this link to apply in Master 2 (normal session)

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are set by ministerial decree (€243 in 2018/19). Please note that you will also need to provide proof of payment for the CVEC (Student Life and Campus Fee) of €90. More information.

Institution for registration: Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) or Paris-Descartes or EHESS
Degree issued: French Master’s degree delivered by Université PSL or Université Paris Descartes or EHESS