The PhD at a Glance

The PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at SISSA aims at providing students with the fundamental knowledge and skills for conducting cutting-edge research in the field, covering topics as diverse as perception, language, memory, inference, action, and social behaviour. Some of our research is also translational in nature (e.g., cognitive neuropsychology), thus offering opportunity for a career outside academia.

The School is strongly research oriented. Our faculty dedicate most of their time to research, thus offering exceptional tutorship. This substantial investment in research is reflected in our ability to attract highly competitive funding (there are three on-going ERC grants in the group and several Human Frontier projects); develop strong research ties, both locally (e.g., the Healthcare system of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, the Unione Italiana Ciechi, the University of Trieste) and internationally (e.g., NTNU, Harvard, Oxford); and publish in leading journals such as Current Biology, PNAS, Science and Nature.    

The program has a strongly interdisciplinary approach: our research themes and expertise are suitable for students with backgrounds in computer science, math, medicine, experimental psychology, theoretical physics, biology and linguistics, as well as neuroscience proper, obviously. The official language at SISSA is English, so speaking Italian is NOT a requirement.   

The workload is mostly focused on conducting a research project under the supervision of our faculty, and in collaboration with fellow students, post-docs and possibly external professionals, such as neurologists, biologists or rehabilitation experts. You will be able to choose among the research fields that our PIs cover; typically, this will happen soon after the beginning of the program, but you can also explore our research portfolio for a few months before eventually electing your primary supervisor. To this aim, and also to provide the students with fundational knowledge, the School offers courses for first-year students on the foundations of cognitive neuroscience, both theoretical and methodological.

In addition to this frontal and hands-on learning, the School provides its students with a vibrant research environment, further fostering their growth. A journal club series takes place weekly; post-docs offer research talks every other week; a summer school is offered yearly, bringing to SISSA both a cohort of brilliant external students to interact with, and some of the most established scholars in the field; national and international visitors come regularly to SISSA offering both cutting-edge talks and opportunity for one-to-one or small group meetings. Previous visitors include the brightest stars in the cognitive neuroscience sky, such as Noam Chomsky, Edvard Moser, and Alfonso Caramazza.   

The program duration is three years, but one-year extensions are typical (covered by a School stipend). It is also possible to spend some time during the PhD at another research institution, if this is required for the successful completion of the project.

You can find the general SISSA regulation for the PhD courses here, courtesy of our colleagues at Theoretical Particle Physics.

Recent placements after PhD at SISSA include Harvard University (Cambridge, USA), Princeton University (Princeton, USA), Norwegian University for Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway), Glasgow University (Glasgow, Scotland, UK), Manchester University (Manchester, UK), Université de Genève (Geneva, Switzerland), University of Southern California (Los Angeles, USA), Radboud University Nijmegen (Nijmegen, Netherlands), Sydney University (Sydney, Australia).

To know more about how to apply, click here.


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