The Cognitive and Information Sciences (CIS) Ph.D. program offers its students interdisciplinary training in cognitive science with an emphasis on computation, technology and applications. This emphasis distinguishes us from other Cognitive Science graduate programs. We view intelligent behaviors not just as emerging solely from neural processes, but from interactions between brain, body, and environment. Thus intelligent behaviors may also emerge from group and social interactions situated in their economic and technological milieu. The word “information” in CIS denotes our multi-scale perspective on cognition, and our emphases on computational approaches and applications towards developing technologies that foster, and even aspire to emulate, intelligent behavior.

Our award-winning faculty specialize in a variety of areas that intersect at this nexus, including action dynamics, computational modeling, complex systems theory, distributed cognition, categorization, music cognition, psycholinguistics, cognitive linguistics, visual perception, cognitive engineering, service science, artificial intelligence, reasoning, computer vision, philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience and bioinformatics. With computational, technological, and application- oriented skills in these areas, students who graduate from this Ph.D. program will have career opportunities in both academia and industry.

cognitive and information sciences at uc merced

The Cognitive and Information Sciences (CIS) Ph.D. program emphasizes collaborative and interdisciplinary research training. Typically, graduate students work closely with one or more faculty in pursuing scientific research, while taking a series of courses that can be tailored to the specific needs and specialization of the student.

The priority deadline for applications is December 15, 2019. We encourage you to submit by the priority deadline as the graduate group will begin reviewing applications. The hard deadline for applications is January 15, 2020.

research areas

  • Action Dynamics
  • Artifical Intelligence
  • Behavioral Science
  • Bioinformatics
  • Categorization
  • Cognitive Engineering
  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Complex Systems Theory
  • Computational Modeling
  • Computer Vision
  • Distributed Cognition
  • Linguistic Analyses
  • Neuroscience
  • Philosophical Methods
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Reasoning
  • Service Science
  • Visual Perception


Each doctoral student receives a stipend of $24,000 (includes tuition, fees and health insurance) per year. Students in good standing are eligible for year-round financial support, including payment of fees and tuition. Students are typically supported by teaching and research assistantships, which can be supplemented by fellowships, awards and other forms of financial assistance.