Skip to main content


Students entering the PhD program with a master’s degree require a minimum of 4 years to complete the program. Most students require 5 years to complete all of the degree requirements.

No, all students must begin their studies in the Fall Quarter.

Yes, applicants with a bachelor’s degree are encouraged to apply.

Yes, many students enter our program with degrees in other fields. In recent years we have had PhD students enter the program with undergraduate degrees in such varied fields as education, physics, cognitive science, engineering, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, and other related fields.

Both undergraduate and graduate GPAs are important in PhD applicants’ admission decisions. These scores are typically about 3.5 on a 4-point scale for those admitted.

The GRE is not required for application for the CSD PhD program. GRE scores are not seen by admission committee members and are not used in the review of any applicants.

Because the focus of the program is research, successful applicants will have had at least one solid research experience. The ability to describe your previous research and think scientifically is valued. In addition to previous research and work experience, letters of recommendation, the applicant’s personal statement, and the applicant’s GPA are all considered important factors in the decision-making process.

An applicant’s letters of recommendation should be from individuals who can directly assess an applicant’s ability to be successful in a challenging PhD program. It is particularly helpful to have letters written by those who can address your past research and course experience and potential in these areas.

Currently, every student accepted into the CSD PhD program will receive 100% tuition support, health insurance and a monthly stipend, year-round, for five years. This funding usually takes the form of some combination of teaching assistantships, graduate research assistantships and fellowships.

Teaching is an essential part of the education and training of PhD students at Northwestern. The Graduate School requires that all PhD students serve in some instructional capacity for a minimum of one quarter during their graduate education at Northwestern. This teaching requirement is considered an integral part of a student’s professional development. PhD students in CSD are expected to do comparable teaching work to other students within and across programs at Northwestern.

Interested students are welcome to visit the department and if interested should make appointments to meet with relevant faculty. After the first of the year, once all applications have been reviewed, our top applicants will be invited to visit the department during our Recruitment Weekend. All Recruitment Weekend expenses are typically covered by Northwestern.

After the first of the year, once all applications have been reviewed, our top applicants are invited to either visit the department during our interview weekend, or (in the case of international applicants) invited to interview remotely via video chat. Interview weekend expenses are typically covered by Northwestern.