How to Apply

Procedures for Cognitive Admissions

Apply to the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts. Specify “Cognition” as your area of concentration.

Be sure to look at the general guidelines for applying to graduate programs in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

We strongly encourage diversity among our students.

Criteria for Admissions

All of the following will be taken into consideration.

Self Statement
This is the single most important item in your portfolio. We look for a match in research interests, an ability to communicate effectively, and long-term goals that will be well served by the training you would receive.

Grades and Courses
Generally our students have around a 3.5 or better grade point average based on a 4-point scale. We carefully consider the difficulty of the courses taken and the general reputation of the undergraduate institution from which the degree was received. In addition to courses in cognition and cognitive neuroscience, we particularly look at subjects such as statistics, mathematics, and the hard sciences.

Research Experience
Because our program emphasizes research, evidence of prior research involvement is essential. Research experience is a good predictor of success in the program.

Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required. A least one of the letters should come from someone who has worked with you closely and can speak to your research ability.

All of these factors are taken into consideration in the application and no one factor (except mismatched interests) is usually fatal to chances for admission. We encourage applications not only from students who majored in psychology or neuroscience, but also those who have majored in biology, linguistics, computer science, engineering, or mathematics.

For applications for the 2023-24 academic year, the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience program will not require GRE scores. We do ask that each student provides information demonstrating their writing skills, research skills, and quantitative skills, which will be important for doing well in our program. You are welcome to provide your GRE scores, if you wish, and they will be considered along with the other information in your application. You can document your writing skills by including writing samples. In your personal statement, we encourage you to describe your research experience. The following ways to document quantitative skills will also strengthen your application:

  • including in your personal statement a description of coursework with a quantitative focus, and of your experience in analyzing research data 
  • asking one or more of those writing your recommendation letters to include specific comments on your quantitative abilities 
  • completing workshops or self-paced study units that address quantitative topics 
  • providing quantitative GRE scores 

Further Information and Applications

Additional information about the University of Massachusetts can be obtained from:

Graduate Admissions Office
530 Goodell Building
University of Massachusetts Amherst
140 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9333

Additional information about the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences can be obtained from:

Sabrina Flagg, Graduate Administrative Assistant (email)
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Tobin Hall
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-7710

(413) 545-2503 (Office)
(413) 545-0996 (Fax)