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General Program Requirements

Advising Requirement
Each student in the cognitive science program will have two faculty advisors:

  1. a Primary Advisor in their home department, who bears primary responsibility for supervising the student's research and dissertation, and
  2. a Secondary Advisor in another department and/or discipline of Cognitive Science. One of these faculty advisors (either the primary or secondary) must be affiliated with the Cognitive Science program.

These two advisors, together with other members on thesis committees (as required by the Graduate School and/or home department, will be responsible for conducting and grading the written and oral exams and/or theses proposals and defenses.

These two advisors should be selected within the student's first year of the program. When students ask a faculty member to be their Secondary Advisor, they should discuss the requirements of the Cognitive Science Program with this advisor and ask them to sign the Secondary Advisor Form.

Core Research Competencies Requirement
By the time they graduate, all Cognitive Science Ph.D. students must achieve a degree of competency in the following four main research methods in Cognitive Science:

  1. Formal methods: Students should demonstrate working knowledge in formal methods, such as neural networks, Bayesian methods, game-theoretic methods, formalization and derivation in different logics, linguistic theory.
  2. Programming methods: Students should demonstrate working knowledge of programming methods for cognitive science, such as techniques from artificial intelligence and computer simulation of cognitive models, representations, data structures, and algorithms.
  3. Statistical methods: Knowledge in statistical methods and data analysis.
  4. Experimental design: Students should demonstrate experience with experimental design, conducting and critiquing experiments, and analysis of experimental outcomes.

Evidence that a student has competency in these four areas of Cognitive Science may be provided in the following ways:

  1. Transcripts of previously taken courses in the above areas (either taken at Tufts or taken before beginning the Ph.D. program).
  2. Papers authored by students that employ any of the required methods.

Students will send their documentation and/or detailed description for each of these four research methods to both their Primary Advisor and their Secondary Advisor.

In the case that the demonstration is found insufficient and is thus not approved, the student's two advisors will work with the student to suggest ways to obtain sufficient documentation (e.g., by taking courses, writing research papers that demonstrate sufficient preparation, participating in research projects, etc.).

When the student has successfully demonstrated competency in the four main research methods, the Primary and Secondary Advisors should sign the CogSci Grad Advisors Verification Form for the Core Research Methods. This form should be submitted to the Program Director. Please submit one form for each core research method.

Written Qualification Requirement: Two papers

  1. Students must submit an original research paper describing their research in one area of Cognitive Science, to a peer-reviewed journal by the end of their sixth semester. They should work together with their Primary Advisor to do this. When the paper is submitted, the Primary Advisor should sign the CogSci Grad Advisor Verification Form for the Original Research paper. This form should be submitted to the Program Director. A final version of the paper should also be emailed to the Program Operating Director. In addition, this research should be orally presented in public (e.g., as part of a dissertation, a talk as part of a lab meeting, course, or symposium). This requirement may overlap with research or a PhD requirement that the student is carrying out in his/her home department.
  2. Students must also write another paper, which should be interdisciplinary in nature, that is, covering more than one discipline of Cognitive Science (for example, Psychology & Computer Science; Computer Science & Child Study and Human Development). This paper does not have to be submitted for publication (although this is encouraged). It can be written as part of a course. When this paper is complete, the student should send it to both their Primary and their Secondary Advisor (or an alternative faculty member from the second area of Cognitive Science that is being covered in the paper) for feedback. The student should address any feedback these faculty request. After incorporating this feedback, both faculty should sign the CogSci Grad Advisors Verification Form for the Interdisciplinary paper, confirming that the paper is interdisciplinary in their opinion (e.g. covers two subfields of cognitive science) and meets the requirements of the program. This form should be submitted to the Program Director. A final version of the paper should also be emailed to the Program Director.

Teaching Requirement
All students enrolled in the Cognitive Science Ph.D. program are required to teach for one academic year (two semesters). This teaching experience can take the following forms:

  1. Serve as a Teaching Assistant for a Tufts undergraduate course.
  2. Serve as a primary research mentor for an undergraduate student, such as an undergraduate in the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Major.

After the student has fulfilled this teaching requirement, the Primary Advisor should sign the CogSci Grad Advisor Verification Form for the Teaching Requirement. This form should be submitted to the Program Director.

Colloquium Series
All cognitive science students are required to regularly attend the Cognitive Science colloquium series for at least four semesters. The colloquium series features speakers from Tufts as well as the Cognitive Science community at large. It has an important educational mission, namely that of exposing students to cutting edge research in Cognitive Science. At the same time, the colloquium series also has an important community-building function by bringing together faculty and students (both graduate and undergraduate) interested in cognitive science, providing an informal setting where students can interact with faculty and ask questions. Ultimately, the goal is for it to become a forum for discussion and exchanges of ideas that can lead to future research collaborations on campus.

All students should make sure that they are on the CogSci mailing list (check with the Program Director).

Cognitive Science Graduation Requirements
All Cognitive Science Ph.D. students are required to pass an oral qualification. For Psychology and Child Study and Human Development students, this is either the masters or PhD dissertation proposal. For Computer Science students, this is the oral qualifying exam.

The PhD examining committee should include a minimum of four members, as specified by the student’s school and home department. It should include the student's Primary Advisor and their Secondary Advisor as well as one member from outside the University.

After the student has written and defended his/her PhD dissertation, the Primary and Secondary advisors should sign the CogSci Grad Advisors Verification Form for the Dissertation. This form should be submitted to the Program Director.