Psychology: PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus

Program Overview

The PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience program trains students to become independent scientists who perform research in academic and research institutions. Unlike clinical neuropsychology programs, this doctoral program does not provide any training in diagnosing or treating brain or neurological disorders.

Instead, the cognitive neuroscience curriculum offers an intense, focused research experience in the areas of perception, attention and memory, with an emphasis on the neural bases of these capacities. Students utilize diverse research methods throughout their studies, including patient-based testing, neuro-imaging, animal modeling, psychophysical scaling and computational modeling. The program also emphasizes faculty-student collaboration through joint research projects.

Students benefit from GW’s location in Washington, D.C., where it is in close proximity to the National Institutes of Health and other major research institutions. On campus, GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences and its associated teaching hospital are also great resources for cognitive neuroscience research, with their intensive Neuroscience Program and world-class Departments of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Neuroradiology.


This is a STEM-designated degree program.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:
   Fall: December 1
Standardized test scores:
GRE general test (institutional code 5246).  The GRE general test is waived for applications who hold a J.D., M.D., or Ph.D.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. 
Minimum scores for the Ph.D. program are:
  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual score below 6.0; or
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 68; 
Prerequisite requirements:
A bachelor's degree with a major in psychology. Students whose academic preparation is in other disciplines will be expected to have completed prerequisite undergraduate courses to prepare for graduate study in psychology before admission.
Recommendations required:
Three (3) recommendations
Prior academic records:
Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.
If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.
Statement of purpose:
In an essay of 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, research experience and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application. If you are applying for an assistantship or fellowship, you should also describe any teaching experience you have had.
An interview is required.
International applicants only:
Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents and English language requirements.

For more information on the admission process, please visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 107
Washington DC 20052

Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.6210 (phone) ~ 202.994.6213 (fax)
8:30 am – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday