The graduate program in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University offers students the opportunity to earn a PhD while working at the cutting edge of research on the mind and brain. The primary goal of the program is the training of researchers who, through careers in academia, industry, and other arenas work to deepen our understanding of mental processes.

The PhD program in Psychological and Brain Sciences is not a clinical training or a counseling program; rather, our faculty and trainees work to understand fundamental processes involved in perception, memory, decision-making, learning, reasoning, and related abilities. In our five-year, full-time program, graduate students also fulfill the requirements for and earn an MA. We do not admit students into a terminal Master’s program, and our program is not available for online study.

All PhD students in good academic standing and making satisfactory progress can expect to be supported for five years.  As part of their graduate training, all PhD students typically complete four semesters of Teaching Assistantship.

Who Can Apply

We seek students who have demonstrated a commitment to psychological science. Most successful applicants have completed undergraduate degrees in Psychology, Cognitive Science, Philosophy, Biology, Behavioral Neuroscience, or Neuroscience, but other related majors can also provide the needed background.

We strongly encourage candidates from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented groups to apply.

When to Apply

Admitted students will matriculate in the Fall semester. The application deadline is December 1st of the year prior to starting the program (note that some special funding programs may have earlier deadlines).

All components of the PhD application, including VTSI supplemental components, must be completed by December 1, 2024. All supplementary application material including letters of recommendation also must be received by December 1.

How to Apply

Our department requires the following application materials, with detailed information on each component available at Johns Hopkins University Graduate Admissions and Enrollment Office:

  • Unofficial Transcripts*
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing Sample
  • Personal Statement
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • TOEFL/IELTS (international applicants only)
  • Professional Credential Evaluation (recommended for international applicants only)**
  • GRE General Test  For Fall 2024 admissions, the GRE test will be optional & not required for the application.

*Successful applicants who accept the offer of admission must supply an official transcript to the graduate admissions office before they can begin the PhD program at Johns Hopkins University. For students in the final year of their bachelor’s program, the official transcript must show completion of all coursework required for the degree.

**View additional information on applying to our graduate program as an international student. Note that the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department strongly recommends (but does not require) international students to submit a professional credential evaluation.

How Applications Are Considered

Various abilities and skills contribute to success in graduate school. Evidence of these skills may include:

  • “objective” indicators, such as GRE scores and undergraduate GPA
  • subjective information, such as a statement of purpose, a description of your background and experience
  • 3 letters of recommendation that provide a personal assessment of your potential for graduate work by faculty mentors and advisors who know you well
  • the ability to express ideas clearly, a curious and creative intellect, and mathematical and computational ability
  • often, but not always: prior research experience

It is this wide scope of admissions considerations that helps build a community within Psychological and Brain Sciences that values intellectual and personal diversity. As a result of this comprehensive approach to the admissions process, guidelines like such as GRE scores or GPA (i.e., cut-offs) are not available.

Candidates for admission may be invited to visit the department so we can meet one another and discuss our mutual interests and goals.