College of Natural Sciences Colorado State University Department of Psychology

Cognitive Neuroscience Frequently Asked Questions

Application Material

Is a terminal Master's Degree in Cognitive Neuroscience available at Colorado State University?

No. A master's degree is awarded only as part of the requirement toward attaining the Ph.D. Students seeking admission should be firmly committed to the completion of the Ph.D.

Can the application materials be completed on the internet or downloaded off the internet?

Yes. The Graduate School application forms can be completed online and additional application information can be obtained by downloading the Cognitive Neuroscience Brochure (pdf file). The items can be found on our Application page.

What is the deadline for the application materials to be received by CSU?

All materials must be received by January 15 of the year you plan to enroll.

When will applicants receive notification about the selection decisions?

The admission process takes about two to three weeks. If you are accepted into the program, then you should be notified within the first two weeks of March. If you are placed on a waiting list, however, it could take longer.

How many letters of recommendation are required to apply to the program? Are forms available for those who will write the recommendation?

We require three letters of recommendation. There are no specific forms that need to be used, but the letters should be written on official letterhead.

Is the selection of a specific faculty member as an advisor required to apply to the program?

All faculty members associated with the program are involved in the selection decisions. As a result, you need not specify a certain faculty member in order to apply, but we do consider how well the students' interests fit with the research being conducted in our program.

What is the average GPA of those applicants that are accepted into the program?

The mean GPA is 3.5 overall, with a 3.7 in Psychology.

Is the GRE Psychology Subject Test required to apply to the program?


Is previous research experience considered when making the selection decisions?

Yes. Any research experience is of considerable value. This is especially true when the work has led to a publication or professional presentation. Regardless of the specific topic of investigation, research experience demonstrates knowledge in research methodology and skills in statistics.

What other factors are considered during the admission process?

Applicants should demonstrate that they possess a solid foundation in research methodology, statistics, and experimental psychology. In addition, applicants should describe their specific interests in Cognitive Neuroscience and in our program in particular.

Education Background

What undergraduate coursework is most useful and relevant for the program?

A solid academic background is invaluable. We look to see if applicants have relevant coursework in biological bases of behavior, cognitive processes, and physiological psychology. Courses in mathematics, statistics, and other sciences are also valuable.

Is an undergraduate major in psychology required to apply to the program?

We accept students from diverse academic backgrounds. However, if one is not a psychology major, we strongly recommend that he/she supplement his/her education with relevant coursework.

Can a person who already earned a Master's Degree at another institution apply to the program?

Yes. In fact, about 20-25% of our new students come with Master's Degrees from other schools.

Applicants with a Master's Degree

What credits earned for a Master's Degree at another institution will transfer into the program?

Generally, at least some credits transfer, though not all of them. Usually, the basic content classes are accepted. Often, methodological and statistics classes are accepted as well.

At what level will a new student entering with a Master's Degree be placed in the program?

This depends on the individual and the relevancy of the Masters work to the Ph.D. research. Usually, someone with a Master's Degree places into roughly the second year of the CSU curriculum.

Can a new student entering with a Master's Degree test out of courses?

Yes. We place students out of courses on a case-by-case basis. Students should provide a class syllabus, readings, and other relevant class materials.

Financial Support

What is the cost of tuition for the year?

Based on the 2002/2003 record, the in-state tuition costs are $3,838, and the out-of-state tuition costs are $13,218.

Is funding available?

It is the intent of the Program that students receive funding throughout their graduate training, though funding is contingent on the availability of funds and a student's progress in the program. Financial support comes from a variety of sources, including: teaching and research assistantships funded by the Department and University; research assistantships funded by government and private-sector grants to individual faculty members; and University-sponsored fellowships for outstanding students. In most cases, these assistantships provide a monthly stipend and tuition waiver.

What types of assistantships are available?

There are two types of assistantships: Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and Graduate Research Assistant (GRA).

What is the average stipend for an assistantship?

The average stipend for a GTA or GRA is $1,000/mo. after taxes. GTAs and GRAs also receive $200 extra each semester. This money is provided to buy graduate student health insurance, but can be used in any way desired by the student.

Are fellowships available?

There are fellowships available to advanced graduate students, such as the Graduate School Fellowship or the Teaching Fellowship. Organizations such as the National Science Foundation provide competitive fellowships to graduate students as well.

Program of Study

What courses does the program require?

Please view the Typical Course Schedule and Course Requirements sections of the Cognitive Neuroscience brochure. Click here to download the brochure.

Students who wish to waive PY652 and PY653 should follow the following steps:

  1. Contact the instructor prior to the fall semester each year to arrange taking PY652 waiver test.  Students will be required to get a C (70%) on the test to be able to waive the course.
  2. Contact the instructor prior to the spring semester each year to arrange taking PY653 waiver test.  Students will be required to get a C (70%) on the test to be able to waive the course.

Things students should know before, during, and after the tests

  1. Students can only take the waiver tests once at the beginning of Fall and Spring semesters, respectively.  Pre-requisite for taking PY653 waiver test is to pass PY652 waiver test.
  2. Students receive grades lower than a B (80%) will be strongly encouraged to consider taking the class.
  3. Students will receive the result and will not receive their answers or be allowed to keep the questions. Their results will also be passed to their advisors for reference.
  4. Students can bring whatever books and notes they wish, but no programmable calculators or handheld computers, to their testing sessions.

How long does it normally take to complete the program?

The program of study is designed to be completed in four to five years; students admitted with a master's degree in Psychology or a related discipline can expect to take two to three years to complete requirements for the Ph.D.

What research facilities are available at Colorado State University?

The Cognitive Neuroscience Program has several active research laboratories, each with state-of-the-art research equipment (please refer to the brochure for more information). The equipment operated by faculty in Cognitive Neuroscience include a computer-controlled multi-channel optical system, color vision diagnostic assessments, and calibration equipment, several high density EEG/ERP laboratories and a state-of-the-art functional near infrared spectroscopy system (fNIRS). Several laboratories incorporate eye-tracking technology as well. All laboratories are equipped with multiple computer systems, specialized input and output devices, and interfaces for the particular types of problems studied in the laboratory.

After Graduation

Do more students seek academic or non-academic jobs upon graduating?

Our alumni are employed in a variety of research and teaching settings. Nearly 50% of our PhD students are employed at academic institutions and hold tenure or tenure-track positions. Twenty percent of our alumni are currently in post-doctoral research positions, and approximately 30% of our alumni are employed in industry.

City of Fort Collins

What is Fort Collins like?

For a broad overview of the town, see the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce or the City of Fort Collins. Fort Collins has many amenities including top-notch restaurants, shopping, parks, and recreational facilities. It is also in close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, many national parks, and the major metropolitan area of Denver. Overall, residents enjoy a moderate, four season climate with an average of 300 days of sunshine and 14.5 inches of precipitation a year.

What is the size of the town?

The population of Fort Collins is about 144,000 people. There are about 30,700 students enrolled at Colorado State University, so a large portion of the town is comprised of college students and university faculty and staff.

What is the typical age range of the people in town?

Fort Collins has an interesting mix of residents with diverse backgrounds. Being a college town, there are naturally many young people in their early twenties. However, Fort Collins has several large, high-tech organizations such as Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies, and Advanced Energy, which attract slightly older (mid 20's to 40's) residents and their families. Other notable organizations found in Fort Collins include New Belgium and Otterbox. Lastly, Fort Collins is also somewhat of a farming community and some residents still make their living this way. Overall, the average inhabitant of Fort Collins is young and well educated. Statistically, the median age of residents is 29, and approximately 51.5% of the population has completed four or more years of college. Here are some links for more facts and figures about CSU and Fort Collins residents.

What is the cost of living in Fort Collins?

To compare the cost of living in Fort Collins to where you live, click here. Overall, the average rent in Fort Collins for a one-bedroom apartment is $650 and a two-bedroom is $740. Colorado State University offers appartments in the University Villages for all students. Please visit Housing and Dining Services web site for more information or for off campus rental information.

What do people in Fort Collins do for fun?

Outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, boating, biking, and skiing are major pastimes for residents of Fort Collins. Fort Collins also has several museums, theaters, and an historical old town shopping district. Additionally, the many local bars and pubs offer enjoyable evening entertainment.

What activities are available in the surrounding areas of Fort Collins?

Within a 15-minute drive, there are many hiking, running, and mountain biking trails. Some of the most famous ski resorts (e.g., Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Purgatory) are within short driving distances. Other ski resorts, such as Loveland and Arapaho Basin (which are still great and usually less crowded), are about 1½ hours from Fort Collins. Also, within a 45-minute drive are Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Many activities, such as shopping, hiking, sightseeing, and (good!) eating, are available there. Even closer in proximity (about a 15-minute drive) is a large outlet mall in Loveland, which includes the outlet stores of J Crew, Bass, Tommy Hilfiger, etc.

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