1. Considering Applying

FAQ 1.0 Can I complete the doctoral program on a part-time basis?
No. Our doctoral program requires a full-time committment from all doctoral candidates.

FAQ 1.1 What kind of academic degree do I need to apply to the Max Planck School of Cognition?
By the time of admission to the program, applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s (fast-track) and / or Master’s degree in a field related to cognition, such as artificial intelligence, biology, cognitive neuroscience/neuroscience, genetics, linguistics, mathematics, neurobiology, neuroimaging, neurology, neurophysics, philosophy, physics, psychiatry, and psychology or a related subject.

FAQ 1.2 What is a “related subject” (see FAQ 1.1)?
A related subject is a subject having a total of at least 60 ECTS or 30 equivalent credits in the British/American/Australian credit system that includes assignments in the fields of artificial intelligence, biology, cognitive neuroscience/neuroscience, linguistics, mathematics, neurobiology, neuroimaging, neurology, neurophysics, philosophy, physics, psychiatry or psychology. These assignments must be clearly defined as relating to the aforementioned subjects in the Bachelor's and Master's transcripts.

FAQ 1.3 Can I apply even though I have not yet finished my current academic degree?
Yes, you can apply with a transcript of records that includes the marks of all courses completed so far. However, if your application is successful you will have to provide the original final transcript and your academic degree certificates (as well as certified translations if not in English or German).

FAQ 1.4 How many points must I have gained in my bachelor to be able to apply?
Applicants must present at least 60 ECTS or 30 equivalent credits in the British/American/Australian credit system on courses defined as artificial intelligence, biology, cognitive neuroscience/neuroscience, genetics, linguistics, mathematics, neurobiology, neuroimaging, neurology, neurophysics, philosophy, physics, psychiatry, and psychology or a related subject.

FAQ 1.5 Is there a minimum grade point average (GPA) required for application?
Applicants usually successfully (but not exclusively) apply with a (German) GPA of at least 1.3 in their bachelor (if applying with a bachelor) or in their master (if applying with a master), when original scores are transformed to the German grading system. Note: 1 is the best possible grade in the German grading system and 4 is the least sufficient grade in the German grading system.
Foreign grade point averages (GPA) will be converted to the German system using the “Bavarian Formula. You may convert your grade yourselves. You can find information on the "Modified Bavarian Formula" here. In some instances, stellar performance in other areas (e.g., lab rotations, references, publications, etc.) can substitute for a lesser grade. This is subject to evaluation.

FAQ 1.6 Where can I find information about the academic program of the school?
The program consists of an orientation year (first year) followed by three years of research for the doctorate. You can find details on the program below:
During the orientation period, there is an emphasis on teaching and prolonged lab rotations (overall duration between 8-9 months), in at least two different labs of fellows of the Max Planck School of Cognition. A major feature of the orientation period is that students can acquire interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary perspectives on a common research theme (e.g., by combining IT and cognitive neuroscience).

  • Laboratory rotation
    Lab rotations will allow first-year doctoral candidates to explore several research groups. This will help define their research interests and aid in choosing the laboratory where they would like to develop their doctoral research work.
  • Lectures
    Doctoral candidates will take basic courses consisting of two main sections each: 1) E-learning during which the essentials are covered, 2) classroom weeks so-called cognition 'academies' in which all students will come together. In Doctoral candidates will attend three academies in the first year, each of them of two-three teaching weeks duration on the basic courses.

The first year ends with an evaluation of doctoral candidates, before advancing to the “research-phase” (i.e., second to fourth years). Only after a successful evaluation will doctoral candidates select faculty members for their supervisory team.

 Second and Third Years

  • Doctoral research work
    At the beginning of the second year students will work together with their supervisor  to develop a feasible and relevant project proposal, to be presented to a thesis advisory committee. After its approval, students can start the project.
  • Lectures
    Students will attend two ‘academies’ per year (four total in the second and third years), each of which lasts two weeks. Each academy involves one week of courses on advanced topics and one week of student, faculty and guest speaker presentations on their research topics.

Fourth year

  • Doctoral research work
    Doctoral candidates are expected to finalize their dissertation by the end of the fourth year.
  • Lectures
    Doctoral candidates attend one cognition ‘academy’ involving only presentations by the faculty, students, and guest speakers on their research topics.
  • Degree
    Doctoral degrees will be awarded by the university to which the supervisor of the respective candidate is affiliated.

FAQ 1.7 Am I required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test
The graduate record examinations (GRE) general test is recommended but NOT mandatory for all applicants (EU included). A scanned version of the unofficial test scores should be included as a supporting document in the upload of your CV. Official test scores will be required if you are admitted into the school. 

You should enter the GRE Designated Institution (DI) Code 4255 assigned to Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences.

FAQ 1.8 Is there a minimum GRE score required for admission?
We look at the GRE general score within the context of the student’s complete application and do not base our decisions strictly on the the test score. It is not mandatory to provide a GRE.

FAQ 1.9 Do you accept old GRE scores?
GRE scores are valid for five years.

FAQ 1.10 Where can I take the GRE tests?
You can find information on where you can take the tests here.

FAQ 1.11 Am I required to submit a certificate of proficiency in English?
Solid knowledge of the English language (B2 level) is necessary for success in the program, which is completely conducted in English (see exemptions below).

The following qualifications count as evidence for your English language proficiency (not older than three years):

  • (I) International English Language Testing System (IELTS): 5.5
  • (II) (Internet-based) English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): 72
  • (III) English for International Communication (TOEIC):
  •      - Speaking and writing: 310
  •      - Listening and reading: 785
  • (IV) Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE)
  • (V) Cambridge English: Business Vantage (BEC V)
  • (VI) Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
  • (VII) Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
  • (VIII) Cambridge English: Business Higher (BEC H
  • (IX) International Certificate in Financial English (ICFE)
  • (X) International Legal English Certificate (ILEC)
  • (XI) BULATS – Business Language Testing Service: 60
  • (XII) DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Language Certificate
  •       - a minimum of C in all skills or
  •       - **** (4 stars) in all skills
  • (XIII) UNIcert® II certificate: 3.0
  •       - UNIcert® III or IV
  • (XIV) LCCI (London Chamber of Commerce and Industry) English for Business (EFB): level 3
  • (XV) Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE): 51
  • (XVI) Language certificate from recognized German institutions of higher education for level B2 (with at least 4 contact hours per week) and minimum grade 2.3

The following students are exempt from needing to provide proof of English proficiency:

  • Nationals from the USA, U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada;
  • B.Sc. or M.Sc. graduates who obtained their qualification in one of the aforementioned countries in a at minimum two-year long graduate program;
  • Applicants with a school-leaving qualification from an English-language secondary school;
  • Applicants who can demonstrate they completed their entire university education, or a large part thereof (minimum of 2 years), in English. This fact must be made clear by the transcript, otherwise an informal but official letter from the university is required, in which it is stated that the relevant subjects were taught in English.

FAQ 1.12 Do you accept old English language proficiency scores?
English test score should not be more than 3 years old at the final admission's deadline at the Max Planck School of Cognition. That is, the test score is valid if taken after December 15, 2015 for a December 15, 2018 application deadline.

FAQ 1.13 When do I need to apply?
The application procedure for the academic year always starts on September 1st, and ends on December 1st in any given year (24:00 CEST).
A complete application comprising all required documentation should be submitted at the same time. Incomplete applications or completed applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

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