General Info

  • Faculty working with students: 60
  • Students: 25
  • Part time study available: No
  • Application Terms: Fall
  • Application Deadline: November 30

The Ph.D. is offered through one of the participating departments (Neurobiology, Psychology and Neuroscience, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Evolutionary Anthropology, and Philosophy). Students affiliate with a Ph.D. degree-granting program by December of their second year and receive a formal certificate of graduate study in cognitive neuroscience. 

Application Info


Gregory Samanez-Larkin
Director of Graduate Studies
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
Duke University
Box 90999
Durham, NC 27708

Phone: (919) 684-3422



Program Description

The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences offers an interdisciplinary admitting program for graduate study in cognitive neuroscience via the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program, which consists of intensive multi-disciplinary coursework and research lab rotations in the first 3 semesters, followed by a transition into a PhD degree-granting program starting spring of year 2. Students in the program gain a thorough understanding of the intellectual issues that drive this rapidly growing field, as well as expertise in the major methods for research on higher brain function.  These functions include, but are not limited to, perception, attention, memory, language, emotion, motor control, executive functions, consciousness, and the evolution of mental processes.

Cognitive neuroscience is an interdisciplinary area of research and scholarship.  Thus, the program at Duke explicitly involves collaboration between multiple departments of the Schools of Arts and Science, Engineering, and Medicine.  Students have access to the facilities of all participating entities including MRI scanners located in the Brain Imaging Analysis Center, EEG labs in the Center, and extensive facilities for psychophysical studies in humans and animals.

Students engage in an extensive year of course work and laboratory research in cognitive neuroscience that includes three rotations in distinct laboratories.  Professional development seminars are offered on topics such as grant writing, tips for the publication process, and teaching.  

Students affiliate with a Ph.D. degree-granting program by December of their second year and receive a formal certificate of graduate study in cognitive neuroscience. 

Certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience

Students who matriculate directly into a PhD-granting departmental program have the opportunity to acquire training in cognitive neuroscience at Duke by means of a certificate program in the field. This program is designed for students whose interests are more focused on studies present within a particular department, but who want to also include training in cognitive neuroscience in their graduate program.

In addition to the curricular requirements of their home department, students in the certificate program complete a core course in cognitive neuroscience and participate in relevant seminars and journal clubs, including giving a research talk. To enroll in the Cognitive Neuroscience Certificate Program, students must first be admitted to one of the participating departments (see each department’s listing for additional information) and then contact the director of graduate studies.


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Fall

Application Deadline: November 30

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: GRE General (Optional)
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required

Department-Specific Application Requirements (submitted through online application)

Writing Sample
None required

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance