Each student’s individual curriculum will be determined by the director of graduate studies and the student’s adviser, in consultation with the student. Students will have to finish their coursework by the end of their third year, with a progressive reduction of the course load throughout the three years.

Typically, the five years will follow the structure below:

Year 1 Semester 1 3 courses
  Semester 2 3 courses + lab rotations
Year 2 Semester 3 3 courses + lab rotations
  Semester 4 3 courses + lab rotations
Year 3 Semester 5 2 courses + lab rotations
  Semester 6 2 courses + lab rotations
Years 4, 5

Research, dissertation and paper writing,
preparation of the postgraduate career.


Students can be advised by any principal investigator at DEC. Full list here.


The program builds on the courses in our MA program (Courses). The offering  includes, introductory core courses in the different subfields of cognitive sciences, advanced courses and research seminars.

In addition to the courses listed above, students’ training includes the following:  

  • Lab rotations
  • Scientific skills (e.g. statistics, experimental methods, programming)
  • Professional skills (e.g. Abstract writing, Reviewing, Job market training)

Program Requirements

  • PhD students must complete their coursework in the first three years.
  • During their first three years they must complete at least three lab rotations in different teams in the department, from at least two different labs.
  • Before semester 5 (Fall of year 3) students will have completed two Qualifying Papers (QPs) on different topics, where typically one will be of a theoretical nature. The exact schedule will be determined at the end of the first year. Qualifying Papers will typically come out of work conducted in lab rotations, but may also stem from a term paper or other course requirement. Qualifying Papers are evaluated by a committee determined in advance by the student and adviser, in consultation with the director of graduate studies. They are graded as “Pass,” “Qualified Pass,” and “Fail.”
  • A student must have had an unqualified Pass in at least one QP by the end of the third year to continue onto the dissertation phase of their PhD.
  • Students who fail program requirements will be put on academic probation and if they will fail to show significant improvement they may be asked to leave the program.
  • Students will act as teaching assistants for courses in our MA program on at least two occasions. TAs will receive a supplementary salary in addition to their stipend during semesters in which they teach.