An admissions committee comprised of representatives from the participating departments and units vet students applying to the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program (CNAP). The explicit aim of the committee is to seek out and select students who wish to work on higher human brain function using concepts and methods that cut across traditional departmental boundaries.

Qualified students will include those with undergraduate training in biology, psychology, computer science, philosophy, engineering, or other fields relevant for cognitive neuroscience. For the 2021-2022 application year, scores on the general test of the GRE are optional for applicants. No subject test is required. TOEFL scores are required of international applicants. Grades and test scores are only two factors taken into consideration in the review for admission. Letters of evaluation and recommendation and a statement of research interests are particularly important. In addition, prior research experience is helpful.


find out more about the CNAP program here


Applications for admission should be made via Duke University Graduate School. Information on how to apply as well as further explanation about requirements for application can be found on the Duke Graduate School website. The Graduate School requires that applicants use its electronic application.

Starting in the 2020-2021 application year, you will find the application by selecting "PhD (Biomedical Sciences Programs - School of Medicine)" before selecting Cognitive Neuroscience. You may also select a second choice Biomedical Sciences Program to apply and be formally considered for both programs without an additional application fee.

The application will also include an optional video component where you may upload a short video, recorded on your smartphone or computer, describing in less than 2 minutes how a Duke PhD training experience will help you achieve your academic and professional goals. It is important to note that our selection process deliberately does not use the optional video material that can be included in Duke applications. 

You are encouraged to use your Statement of Purpose to provide a compelling statement that articulates how CNAP fits your training goals and if necessary, to address how COVID-19 has impacted or disrupted, if at all, your academic or research progress.

We receive many applications from well-qualified applicants and are unfortunately only able to accept a few. It is sometimes possible to share outstanding applications with other groups on campus. If you are interested in having your application shared with others at Duke, make sure to check the appropriate box during the electronic application process.


The deadline for submission of applications for admission is December 2. The application fee is $95. We encourage you to complete the application well before the December 2nd deadline.


If you are submitting GRE scores, note the new GRE analytic writing test takes longer to score than previous GRE tests. If you will submit GRE scores, please take the exam early enough so that we have your scores by December 2. Please note that the institutional code for Duke is 5156. No code for specific departments is necessary.

Review and Notification

The admissions committee reviews applications in December/early January and identifies promising candidates. A group of applicants is then invited to the Duke campus for a visit in February.