Brain and Cognitive Sciences PhD Program
Graduate students in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences are among the sharpest, most innovative brain scientists to be found anywhere. In a given year the department admits 5 to 10 percent of applicants, and our PhD program is consistently ranked among the best in the world. Students work hard to get here, and they are vital to the department in many ways.
Innovative: Our students often take on riskier projects and pilot studies that probe the edges of our technical and scientific knowledge. They can move among projects more easily, and their successes lay the foundation for not only their careers but the future directions of their mentors’ labs.
Collaborative: Our students bring bold, fresh thinking to the department, and exploring these potentially transformative ideas often means reaching across boundaries of lab, center, and department to build new collaborations. Graduate students help BCS mesh with the rest of MIT.
Supportive: Graduate students are the most frequent mentors of undergraduate students in UROP, actively guiding and developing those who will become the next generation of top-tier graduate students. BCS graduate students also are helping make sure the department is a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable community.
Overview of the Program
Graduate students in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences work with an advisor and advisory committee to pursue an innovative and rigorous program of original research. Students should aim to complete their PhD in five to six years.
- Students take three to four of their required six courses
- Students complete required Responsible Conduct in Science training.
- Students complete a minimum of three lab rotations by March 31.
- Students select a thesis advisor by April 30.
- Students complete the remaining two to three of their academic course requirements by the end of the Spring Term.
- Students complete teaching assistant training and their first teaching (TA) requirement.
- Students form their qualifying exam advisory committee, have their first committee meeting, and turn in the completed committee meeting form to BCS HQ by the end of the Spring Term.
- Students complete the second teaching (TA) requirement.
- Students complete the written and oral qualifying exam in October or November.
- Students form a thesis committee, submit a written thesis proposal to their committee, orally present their proposal to the thesis committee, and receive committee approval, before the end of the Spring Term.
- Students must meet with their thesis committee once per year.
- Students take the final steps to completing the PhD oral examination (also known as the thesis defense) and submission of the approved written dissertation.