Program in Cognitive Science School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Program in Cognitive Science School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, NY
student ratio
total students
Not Reported
average amount to complete degree
January 1
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
1 Degree Offered
degrees offered


The doctoral program in Cognitive Science

The doctoral program in Cognitive Science was launched in 2003 with the aim of training the next generation of world-class cognitive scientists, and making seminal contributions to the field. In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science, this program trains students to integrate theories, methods, and tools from a variety of fields. Students become engaged in research from the beginning of their first semesters in the program, working closely with individual faculty members whose research interests include computational cognitive modeling, artificial intelligence, human and machine reasoning, computational linguistics, perception and action, theoretical neuroscience, cognitive robotics, cognitive engineering, and advanced synthetic characters. There is a strong emphasis on building models of natural and artificial cognitive systems using formal, quantitative, and mathematical tools. The department has excellent research facilities, such as eye tracking equipment, a robotic arm, and a large-scale immersive virtual environment lab.

The general requirements for completion of the Ph.D. in cognition science degree program consist of a combination of research and other scholarly activities, course work, and attendance at and participation in the department's colloquia series. Individual and team-taught seminars are offered on a range of topics, from low-level perception-and-action to high-level reasoning and problem-solving. The program prepares students to become modelers, experimentalists, and theorists, and to apply their research to solving real-world problems.

Research Facilities

Research is supported by state-of-the-art facilities and equipment including the Rensselaer Libraries, whose electronic information system provides access to collections, databases, and the Internet from campus and remote terminals; the Rensselaer Computing System, which permeates the campus with a coherent array of more than 7,000 nodes of distributed laptops, desktops, advanced workstations, and servers; a shared toolkit of applications for interactive learning and research and high-speed Internet connectivity; one of the country's largest academically based, class 100 clean room facilities; high-performance campus wide computing facilities that allow for serial or parallel computation; and 5 core laboratories for molecular biology, proteomics, bio-imaging, and tissue engineering.

Most recently, Rensselaer has announced a new university-wide initiative to tackle the challenges and opportunities of Big Data. The new Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications (IDEA) brings together and fortifies the wealth of data science, high performance computing, predictive analytics, data visualization, and cognitive computing research at the institute.

The Rensselaer IDEA represents an investment by Rensselaer of $60 million, and involves faculty members and students from more than 12 departments across the 5 schools of the university. The new research institute serves as a hub for Rensselaer faculty members, staff members, and students engaged in data-driven discovery and innovation. Through the use of the vast amounts of available data, they are addressing some of the most challenging problems facing the world -- from energy security and job creation to sustainability and health care.

AMOS, the new supercomputer, is the most powerful university-based supercomputer in New York state and the Northeast, and among the most powerful in the world. In addition to massive computational power, AMOS has high-performance networking capabilities. This combination of speed and networking is unique and enables Rensselaer and its partners to better tackle highly complex, data-rich research challenges ranging from personalized health care, to smart grids, to economic modeling.

Other facilities and research centers include the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies; the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation; research centers for integrated electronics, terahertz science, nanotechnology, fuel cell and hydrogen research, lighting research, science and technology policy, and infrastructure and transportation studies; the Geotechnical Centrifuge Research Center; the Darrin Fresh Water Institute; and the Scientific Computation Research Center. In addition, academic departments and faculty member laboratories have extensive discipline-specific research capabilities and equipment.

Within the Cognitive Science Department, research is conducted in the following labs: the CogWorks Laboratory, the Rensselaer Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning (RAIR) Laboratory, the PandA Labs, the Human-Level Intelligence Laboratory, and the Cognitive Architecture Laboratory (CogArch Lab).

At the CogWorks Laboratory, researchers conduct basic and applied research focused on understanding the interplay of cognition, perception, and action in interactive behavior. These interests entail understanding top-down versus bottom-up control of behavior, the role of implicit versus explicit knowledge, internal versus external representations, and knowledge in-the-head versus knowledge in-the-world.

Research and development in the RAIR Lab ranges across a number of applied projects as well as across many of the fundamental questions AI raises (e.g., Are we machines ourselves? If so, what sort of machines?). Everything is unified to a high degree by the fact that the formalisms, tools, techniques, systems, etc., that underlie the lab's R&D are invariably based on reasoning.

Research in the PandA Labs is aimed at understanding intelligence by studying the tight linkage between perception and action. Basic questions about visual perception and motor control and coordination are addressed by investigating routine and skilled perceptual-motor tasks, with a specific focus on visually guided actions. Experimental research is conducted in real and virtual environments, and mathematical models are developed using tools from dynamical systems theory and artificial intelligence.

The goal of the Human-Level Intelligence Laboratory is to explain human intelligence and design machines with human-level intelligence. Research is conducted in the integration of reasoning and learning, language understanding, metacognition, and physical reasoning.

The CogArch Lab is focused on research developing comprehensive models of human cognition, that is, cognitive architectures. Research is ongoing investigating the fundamental interaction of implicit and explicit cognition and the interaction of motivation, metacognition, cognition, consciousness, and computation, as well as cognitive social simulation.

Student Outcomes

Rensselaer's graduate students are hired in a variety of industries and sectors of the economy and by private and public organizations, the government, and institutions of higher education. Their starting salaries average $74,807 for master's degree recipients and $82,750 for Ph.D. recipients.

Interested students should Apply Now.

The Institute

Recognized as a leader in interactive learning and interdisciplinary research, Rensselaer continues a tradition of excellence and technological innovation dating back to 1824. Rensselaer has 5 schools -- Architecture, Engineering, Management, Science, and Humanities and Social Sciences -- that offer more than 100 graduate programs in over 48 disciplines that attract top students, researchers, and professors. The discovery of new scientific concepts and technologies, especially in emerging interdisciplinary fields, is the lifeblood of Rensselaer's culture and a core goal for the faculty members, staff members, and students. Fueled by significant support from government, industry, and private donors, Rensselaer provides a world-class education in an environment tailored to the individual.

Location & Contact

Program in Cognitive Science

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590
United States

Dr. Wayne Gray

Graduate Program Director

Phone: 518-276-3315

Office of Graduate Admissions

Phone: 518-276-6216

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Cognitive Sciences Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 4
    • Doctoral Degrees 4
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? No
    • Terminal master's degree available? Yes
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


18% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 22
    • Accepted 4
    • Acceptance Rate 18
    • Enrolled 3
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic Not Reported
    • Application Fee - International Not Reported
    • Electronic applications accepted? Yes
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Yes
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline January 1st January 1st Yes
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesNot Reported
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required, 600 paper based, TOEFL iBT, IELTS required, IELTS paper based

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & FeesNot Reported
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsJanuary 1
    • Types of financial support availableNot Reported

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students17
    • Female Percentage18%
    • Male Percentage82%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students17
    • Part-time Percentage24%
    • Full-time Percentage76%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / Latino6%
    • Black / African American6%
    • White / Caucasian69%
    • American Indian / Alaskan Native0%
    • Asian12%
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander0%
    • Two or more races0%
    • Unknown7%


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty14
    • Full-time Percentage100%
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Female Percentage36%
    • Male Percentage64%


  • Existing Research
    • Focus of faculty researchArtificial intelligence, cognitive engineering, computational cognitive modeling, computational linguistics, human factors, perception and action, social interaction, social simulation and multi-agent modeling, theoretical neuroscience, vision science
    • Externally sponsored research expenditures last year$84,676