Preparing for Graduate School

The Cognitive Science major provides an excellent background for those interested in pursuing graduate school. If you are interested in graduate school, start preparing early. You will need to keep up your academic performance while also networking, and gaining relevant work and research experience.

Here are some things to consider and links to resources that may assist you.

  1. Talk with advisors. The undergraduate advisors should be your first resource when considering graduate school. In addition, the graduate advisor (in CSB 143) can provide information on the graduate application process. You should also talk to your instructors and career services counselor's to gather solid input and direction.
  2. Gain research experience. This is especially important if you plan to attend a Ph.D. program. There are several things you can do to obtain research experience such as participating in 99/199 projects, completing an honors project or applying to a summer research program. To see UCSD summer programs, please see the Graduate Student website.
  3. Get involved. Join a CogSci student organization and meet other students interested in the field. Consider signing up to be an IA (Instructional Apprentice) to gain teaching experience.
  4. Attend Career Services events and workshops. Meet with a career services counselor to learn about the possible graduate study tracks and their application processes or request a critique of your graduate school essay and application.
  5. Learn about what it takes to apply successfully for grad school.
    • Plan early. Know all the deadlines. Be aware that graduate school application deadlines are often in the late fall.
    • Obtain good references. Letters from faculty members describing your ability to excel in graduate school strongly influence admissions decisions. If faculty doesn't know you, they can't write a good reference letter for you. Ask questions in class, go to office hours, and show interest in the subject. Work in a lab (via 99 or 199 courses or as a volunteer) so the professor will be familiar with your work. Also, review the Student Guide to Obtaining Letters of Reference on the Career Services website.
    • Prepare for graduate entrance exams (GRE's). These exams may be a pivotal aspect of your credentials, and completing a practice exam may be helpful.
    • Spend time writing a good essay. Review the Statement of Purpose guidelines, become familiar with faculty and their research, and review recent books and articles written by them. Be specific when explaining your goals.
  6. Search for graduate programs:
    • The Gradschools website offers a comprehensive listing to search for a variety of programs.