Cognitive Science (CogMaster)

Program type : Initial Training
Degree : Master
Discipline(s) : Anthropology, Médecine, Biology, Economics, Informatics, Philosophy, Physics, Cognitive science, Engineering Science, Political Science, Social Science, Life Sciences, Sociology
Place : Paris
Domains : Humanities & social sciences, Fundamental Sciences
Teaching language : French, English
Internship required
International course
Prerequisites : Bachelor

Hosted by the Ecole normale supérieure (ENS), Paris-Descartes University and the EHESS, the Cogmaster programme offers a unique curriculum in Europe. It is open to students with diverse backgrounds and offers academic and industrial opportunities in prestigious research institutions and in many companies in data science, artificial intelligence, bio- and neuro-technologies, education and public policy. 

The intensive training programme involves multiple excellent higher education institutions to offer the best in each field, with 800 hours of courses taught by leading experts. In order for students to be directly immersed in research, it offers the opportunity to perform internships in the best cognitive science laboratories in France and in the rest of the world. 

The majority of Cogmaster teaching is given in English. Student/teacher interactions and all exams can take place in French or in English, as chosen by each student.

Learning outcomes 

The goal of the Cogmaster is to train high-level scientists in at least one discipline of cognitive science, with broad knowledge and a solid methodological training covering all of the cognitive sciences.  

Target audience 

The Cogmaster is intended for a small number of highly motivated students, from very diverse backgrounds but with a solid training in one of the fundamental disciplines of cognitive science: psychology, biology, linguistics, philosophy, social science, mathematics, computer science. It is also open to medical and engineering students. 


The Cogmaster is primarily a research programme, which prepares students to start a PhD, and also offers many other opportunities. Its international scientific level allows students to aspire to occupy positions in academic or industrial research, in various institutions and companies. 

  • An intensive and interdisciplinary training programme in cognitive science, unique in Europe 
  • An exceptional scientific environment within PSL
  • A localization at the very lively and cultural heart of Paris.
  • A wide variety of basic and advanced classes, given by world-renowned scholars ; A multidisciplinary curriculum.

The goal of the Cogmaster is to train high-level scientists in at least one discipline of cognitive science, with broad knowledge and a solid methodological training covering all of the cognitive sciences. 
Each Cogmaster student builds, together with his/her tutor, a personalised curriculum organised around one major and one or several optional minors. Majors typically correspond to the main areas of cognitive science, and may be chosen according to each students’ project and skills.
Majors are: 
    Philosophy ;
•    Social ciences;
•    Linguistics ;
•    Psychology ;
•    Neuroscience ;
•    Modelling ;

•    In addition, there is a special major that may be validated in M2 only : Cognitive engineering. This major covers applications of cognitive science to education, remediation, brain-machine interfaces, biomedical engineering, public policy, decision making, urban planning, etc. This major includes an internship in a private company or in a public institution, in collaboration with academic researchers. More information on this major can be found on the following page.

During the first year (M1), a significant proportion of courses are taken in students’ major discipline in order to reinforce basic skills. Other courses consist of a core methodological curriculum, as well as introductory courses to the concepts and tools needed in other fields of cognitive science. Research internships complete the curriculum. 
At the end of the first year, students will have consolidated their training in their major. They will also have assimilated the concepts, methods and issues central to cognitive science. They will be able to analyse and criticize the current literature, in order to develop a coherent research project for the second year (M2). 

In the second year, students are confronted with current research topics in cognitive science in interdisciplinary courses, and carry out an original and integrative research project in cognitive science. This implies being able to formulate a question, to confront it with existing publications, to develop an experimental or theoretical approach to address it, to analyse the results and to compare them to the current literature. Students will also write a scientific-publication-level thesis, and defend it clearly and convincingly in public. 


This programme is open to students who have a bachelor degree in psychology, biology, linguistics, philosophy, social science, mathematics, or computer science. It is also open to medical and engineering students. Other backgrounds are eligible and are considered on a case by case basis. 
We expect students to have strong learning skills and be hard-working and self-motivated to assimilate knowledge in other areas. In addition to the qualities necessary for research (attention to detail, rigor, scepticism, but also curiosity, independence and initiative), students must demonstrate good written and oral communication skills. 

Application process 

The process involves an application file and interview(s), plus a research project for M2 applicants. 
Most candidates apply to the first year, in the major that best corresponds to their initial training. Number of slots available in M1 : 35 . 

Candidates who already hold an M1 or equivalent degree can also apply directly to M2. Number of slots available in M2 : 48, thus a dozen for direct admissions. 
Because direct M2 applications imply the submission of a research project in a host laboratory for the M2 internship, M2 applicants are encouraged to get in touch with laboratories right from the beginning of the application process. For this purpose, they may use the list of Cogmaster-affiliated laboratories, and the list of research internship proposals. It should be noted that these lists are indicative, not limitative. 

In preparing your application, please include the following:

  • On-line application form
  • Résumé
  • Motivation letter
    This is a very important element of your application. It does not have a set format - except that it should not exceed 2 pages. Effective statements typically demonstrate applicants' familiarity with the field, and their specific interests and commitment to cognitive science study. It is not necessary to repeat the information already present in your Vitae and more important to highlight your intellectual, scientific or professional development than your personal experiences. You should indicate how your interests relate to the special strengths of our program, so that we can get a sense of how you would fit in, and benefit from studying in the Cogmaster. It is also helpful if you indicate whatever research plans or area of study you have in mind at present.
  • All higher education grade transcripts and diplomas (with French or English translations, if originals are in another language)
  • Writing sample (thesis, essay, article, internship or lab report - mandatory for M2 and DENS applications).
    Please upload one document that best illustrates your writing skills. This can be a thesis, an essay that you submitted for course credit, or any other piece of academic writing. If you are not the sole author, please indicate very precisely what your contribution was.
  • Research project (mandatory for M2 application).
    This is the project for the internship that will occupy the second semester, in 2 pages maximum. The project should be agreed with a designated research supervisor, which implies that you should contact researchers affiliated with Cogmaster as soon as possible in order to discuss internship options.
    In the application you will have to indicate the contact details of your research supervisor, in order for him/her to confirm his/her agreement to supervise your internship. In case you have two co-supervisors, you may indicate both. If your direct supervisor is a postdoctoral researcher or PhD student, you need to indicate the contact details of their academic supervisor, the person with a permanent academic position who can take the responsibility for engaging the lab’s resources and hosting your internship.
  • Recommendation letters (mandatory)

Submission deadlines

Applications for intake 2020 will open in January 2020 (fast-track application session).
Please note : the fast-track application session is open exclusively to candidates who need a rapid acceptance decision, for instance to apply for funding or for a visa. All applications to the fast-track session must be duly justified, with mention of the relevant institutions requiring early decision and deadlines at which the reply is needed. Applicants who are not accepted via the fast-track session are welcome to apply to the normal session.

Normal application session: openings in March 2020.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees are set by ministerial decree (€243 in 2019/20). Please note that you will also need to provide proof of payment for the CVEC (Student Life and Campus Fee) of €91. More information.

Institution for registration: Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) or Paris-Descartes or EHESS
Degree issued: French Master’s degree delivered by Université PSL or Université Paris Descartes or EHESS


Franck RAMUS & Thérèse COLLINS
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