Applying to the program (FAQ)

Q. What should go in my personal statement?

The personal statement is a crucial part of your application, as a well-written, focused statement (typically 2–3 pages in length) illustrates your potential to succeed in graduate courses and provides essential information about whether the certificate fits with your interests and goals. The personal statement should:

  • Explain how the certificate fits with your broader career or educational goals. Be as specific as possible about how the certificate is related to your interests and will help you achieve professional goals.
  • Describe experiences that led to your interest in cognitive science and/or prepared you for graduate-level study. Use the statement to explain your motivations for pursuing the certificate, especially if your previous academic experience is in an unrelated field. When possible, use specific examples (e.g., previous courses, research, or work experiences) that have informed your interests in pursuing graduate study in cognitive science.
  • Be written clearly with a professional tone. Effective written communication is important in any graduate program, so your statement should illustrate your ability to write in an organized, clear manner.

Q. Do I need to take the GRE?

No, standardized tests are not required to apply to the program.

Q. Do I need letters of recommendation?

No, recommendations are not required for an application to be fully considered. However, applicants can optionally provide up to three recommendations from academic or professional contacts. Recommendation letters can help provide further context about an applicant’s academic performance, potential to succeed in graduate-level coursework, and/or motivation to pursue training in cognitive science.

Q. Is there an application fee?

Yes, most applicants are required to pay a fee (see here). Some applicants may be eligible for fee waivers (including McNair Scholars, UNC Charlotte permanent employees and U.S. military students)

Q. Can the certificate be completed remotely?

In general, the graduate certificate requires in-person attendance at the main campus of UNC Charlotte, with the majority of classes held during normal working hours. Although some individual courses might allow for remote attendance, this is not guaranteed and applicants should be able to be present on campus for courses and other program activities.

Q. Will I have to take only those courses listed on the program entry in the course catalog, or is it possible to take other graduate courses to satisfy the requirements?

Aside from the required core course (Introduction to Cognitive Science), it is typically possible to make substitutions when there are other graduate courses that fit with a student’s interests and are consistent with the broad interdisciplinary themes of cognitive science. Decisions about course substitutions are made in consultation with the program director and with the approval of course instructors.

If you have other questions about the Graduate Certificate or application process, contact the program director at