Grading & Performance

Spring 2020 Update: Typically, all courses taken for credit toward the Cognitive Science PhD course requirements must be taken for a Letter Grade, with the exception of specific courses (see list of courses below).  However, for SP20 the UCSD Academic Senate is allowing courses approved with the grading option of "Letter Grade Only" on a P/NP or S/U basis. This is a one-time exception for Spring 2020.  While the department will allow students in our majors to take courses for their requirements as P/NP in SP20, it is encouraged that students strongly consider taking required classes with a Letter Grade.


The expectation is that graduate students in the program will maintain a 3.4 GPA and falling below this expectation may lead to the student being put on departmental probation. No course in which the student is assigned a grade below B- will be allowed to fulfill department requirements.

Letter grade required:

  • Foundation Courses (COGS 201, 202, 203)
  • Elective Courses
  • Methods Courses
  • Second Year Project Courses (COGS 210ABC, COGS 211ABC).  Note: the first two quarters will be graded IP or "in progress".  A letter grade will be assigned when the last part of the sequence is completed and graded.

Letter grade or S/U courses:

  • COGS 200 (Whether Cog Sci 200 is available for a letter grade in any particular quarter may depend on the faculty member who is leading it)
  • COGS 291
  • COGS 298 (Pre-candidacy research)
  • COGS 299 (Thesis Research)

S/U required:

  • COGS 205
  • COGS 241
  • COGS 290
  • COGS 500

Time Limits

Students must be advanced to candidacy by the end of spring quarter of their fourth year. Total university support cannot exceed seven years. Total registered time at UCSD cannot exceed eight years.

Acceptable Progress

Acceptable Progress

The following are normative expectations, and can be used as a guideline. Please discuss specific expectations with your faculty adviser(s).

1st Year

  • 2-3 quarters of Lab Rotations
  • 3 Foundation Courses
  • 1 Elective Course
  • 2 Methods Courses
  • 1 TA'ship
  • Up to speed on neuroscience, programming, math, and any other area needed for core competency

2nd Year

  • Complete all coursework except COGS 200
  • Satisfactory completion of 2nd year project

3rd Year

  • Course Work Completed
    • Foundations
    • Electives
    • Methods
    • Rotations
  • Draft Dissertation Proposal
  • Journal Submissions
  • Conference Presentations
  • Establish at least 3 members of thesis committee

4th Year

  • Advance to candidacy
  • Collect data for dissertation
  • Journal Submissions
  • Conference Presentations
  • Apply for Dissertation Grant

5th Year

  • COGS 200 requirement fulfilled
  • Dissertation completed
  • Dissertation defended
  • Conference Presentations
  • Journal Submissions
  • Apply for post-docs, industry jobs, and/or faculty positions

Unacceptable Progress

The following are intended to help identify students who are not making acceptable progress towards the PhD. Individual cases may vary however due to a variety of factors. Please discuss specific expectations with your faculty adviser(s).

1st Year

  • 0-1 quarters of Lab Rotations or > 4
  • 0-1 Foundation Courses
  • 0-1 Methods Courses
  • 0 TA'ships
  • Math, programming & language proficiency not addressed < 9 courses towards MS (not including TA)

2nd Year

  • Missing > 1 from lab rotations, foundations, methods
  • 2nd year project does not show research potential consistent with continuation in the PhD program
  • Missing > 3 issues

3rd Year

  • Any course requirements unfilled (except COGS 200)
  • Not having an advisor or one internal plus one external member who serve as co-advisors on dissertation research
  • Not having a plan for the dissertation

4th Year

  • Lose contact with advisor/committee