Graduate student already enrolled in a CU Boulder PhD program specified below can earn a Triple PhD with Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and their home department degree. Earning such a degree can significantly enhance a student’s academic knowledge, career choices, and marketability. 

ATLAS InstituteArchitecture and Planning; Computer Science; Information ScienceIntegrative PhysiologyLinguisticsPhilosophyPsychology and Neuroscience; School of EducationSpeech, Language, Hearing Sciences. Students enrolled in graduate programs from other departments may request approval to participate.

Applying for Admission

Step 1

First be admitted to a CU Boulder graduate program in one
of the following departments/units:

ATLAS InstituteArchitecture and Planning; Computer Science; Information ScienceIntegrative PhysiologyLinguisticsPhilosophyPsychology and Neuroscience; School of EducationSpeech, Language, Hearing Sciences.

Students enrolled in graduate programs from other departments may request approval to participate. Students will need to first seek permission from their degree program, then apply to the ICS program.

For more information on becoming a University of Colorado graduate student prior to applying for the ICS graduate programs, contact the above departments/units directly.

Step 2

Be in good academic standing, a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Step 3 Students contact ICSPrograms@colorado.edu with the intent to complete a Triple major Cognitive Neuroscience PhD. The ICS office will guide students through the application process.
Step 4

Apply for admission to the Cognitive Neuroscience Triple PhD Program by submitting the following items to ICSPrograms@colorado.edu

Step 5

Upon receipt of the application, ICS will direct students to concurrently enroll with the Center for Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience (P&N).

Students do not need to be in a P&N degree program to enroll in the Center for Neuroscience.

    Step 6

    ICS will contact students to confirm acceptance to the program.

    Students then notify their graduate program advisor and the Center for Neuroscience to confirm their intent to complete a triple major PhD with ICS.


    Program Requirements 

    Cognitive Neuroscience Triple PhD completion requires courses in Core cognitive neuroscience, elective cognitive neuroscience in two categories: Depth and Related Disciplinary Specialization, comprehensive exams if applicable, and an interdisciplinary thesis.

    The Triple PhD includes a focused set of courses from the neuroscience program in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience to meet the specific needs of a cognitive neuroscientist.

    Required Course Credit Hours

    • A total of 28 to 34 credit hours (credits) to include:
      • 11 to 14 credits of Core Cognitive Neuroscience courses
      • 6 to 9 credits of Depth courses
      • 11+ credits of Related Discipline Specialization courses
      • 30 credits of dissertation research

    *More courses may be required for students pursuing topics outside of the cognitive neuroscience track (core discipline outside of neuroscience) or taking additional core/depth courses.

    Course plans and progress are recorded on the Triple PhD Plan of Study / Progress Report /Completion Form

    Required Core Courses - 11 to 14 credits

    • Issues and Methods in Cognitive Science (3 credits) 
      • Students should complete this course by the end of the second year of their program. By completing this course, students become eligible to apply for travel grants.
    • Topics in Cognitive Science (1 credit), taken twice (2 semesters)
    • Research Applications Seminar (formerly Cognitive Science Practicum) (2 credits) 
      • This course should be taken as you prepare your dissertation topic proposal or equivalent.
    • Survey and Integration of Neuroscience I (NRSC 5100 - 2 credits for advanced students, 5 credits for students without advanced preparation)
    • Survey and Integration of Neuroscience II (NRSC 5110 - 3 credits)
    Both Depth and Specialization elective courses are chosen from the Triple PhD Approved Course Lists.
  • Students work with their advisors to determine the knowledge and skills needed to reach research goals.
  • Course offerings and availability can change.
    • It is the students' responsibility to investigate the accuracy of what, which, and when courses are being offered.
  • Be aware that one-of-a-kind Seminars not listed, may be needed to complete the Program.
  • Some of the courses from the ICS Course Catalog may be appropriate as an elective. Check with ICSPrograms@colorado.edu to confirm taking a course from this catalog before registering.  
  • Required Depth Elective Courses - 6 to 9 credits

    • Pick from Course List
    • Students work with their graduate advisor to select courses

    Required Cognitive Neuroscience Related Disciplinary Specialization Elective Courses - 11+ credits

    • Pick from Course List
    • Students work with their graduate advisor to select courses
    •  This list may be incomplete for your specialization - seek input from your advisor 

    *Independent Study: if a student needs to replace one required course to satisfy program requirements due to unavoidable scheduling issues,complete and submit the Independent Study Approval Form to ICSPrograms@colorado.edu.

    Following Graduate School requirements, most students take and pass a comprehensive exam to advance to doctoral candidacy status.

    • Successful completion (grade of B- or better) of the Survey and Integration of Neuroscience I and II courses fulfills the Neuroscience component of the comprehensive exam.
    • Students must also pass a comprehensive exam in their area of specialization.
      • The format of this specialty comprehensive exam will be determined by the student's advisor and will be appropriate for the advisor's department/program of affiliation, but must also be interdisciplinary in nature to fulfill the Cognitive Science component of the comprehensive exam.

    All Cognitive Neuroscience Triple PhD students complete a doctoral thesis/dissertation with a primary Cognitive Neuroscience focus.

    • The original contributions of the dissertation research will represent state-of-the-art multidisciplinary research of quality suitable for publication in a reputable scientific journal.
    • The student's thesis advisor must be a participating Cognitive Neuroscience faculty member.
    • The student's thesis committee must be comprised of a minimum of five faculty members with graduate faculty appointments.
      • The committee is formed by the student's advisor
      • The committee is then approved by Academic Director of ICS
    • Students are encouraged to have their doctoral research co-supervised by two faculty members representing different disciplines.
    • At least one supervisor will be an ICS faculty fellow.
    • The doctoral committee will include at least two ICS faculty fellows from outside the home department.
    • In accordance with the rules of the graduate school, students must take at least 30 hours of dissertation research.

    Program Completion

    Step 1 Complete all required courses with a minimum grade of B.
    Step 2

    Submit the following to ICSPrograms@colorado.edu to confirm whether all required courses have been completed.

    Step 3 If required, pass the Comprehensive Exam in your degree department.
    Step 4 Notify ICSPrograms@colorado.edu with the expected graduation date.
    Step 5

    Students must have their dissertation committee sign the ICS PhD Dissertation Committee Report form AT THEIR DEFENSE, not before. For virtual defenses, the form can be DocuSigned afterward.

    • This form is in addition to your department sign-off form
    Step 6

    Submit the following to ICSPrograms@colorado.edu.

    • Signed ICS Dissertation Committee form
    • Unofficial Transcript that shows Dissertation Hours
    Step 7 The Academic Program Director will review the transcript, Plan of Study / Progress Report Form, ICS Dissertation Committee Form signatures and to confirm that requirements were met. Once approved, ICS will contact the Graduate School, and the student's home and other degree departments. The Triple PhD is acknowledged on the diploma.

    For more information on becoming a University of Colorado graduate student prior to applying for the ICS graduate programs, contact the following departments/units directly:
         Architecture and Planning
         Computer Science
         Information Science
         Integrative Physiology
         Psychology and Neuroscience
         School of Education
         Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences
    Students enrolled in graduate programs from other departments may request approval to participate.

    For more information on the cognitive science courses contact:
    Institute of Cognitive Science