Distinguished Majors Program

PLEASE NOTE: The DMP Application Deadline for Class of 2022 will be extended due to COVID restrictions.

Cognitive Science majors who have completed 18 credit hours towards their major and who have a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or better may apply to the Distinguished Majors Program. Students who are accepted must complete a thesis based on two semesters of empirical or theoretical research. Upon successful completion of the program, students will likely be recommended for a baccalaureate award of Distinction, High Distinction, or Highest Distinction.

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DMP Requirements

Students applying to the Distinguished Major Program must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 and have completed 18 credit hours towards their Cognitive Science major by the end of the semester in which they apply. Students wishing to do an empirical study with humans, requiring data collection and analysis, need to take PSYC 2005, or provide some other proof that they can analyze their data. In addition to the major requirements for Cognitive Science, students must register for two semesters of supervised research in COGS 4970 and COGS 4980: Distinguished Major Thesis. Additionally, concurrent registration in PSYC 3870: Seminar for Distinguished Majors is recommended. Based on their independent research, students must complete a thesis at least one month prior to graduation. Please note: The DMP credits do not apply towards the 30 credit hours required for the major.

How to Apply

1) Decide on a project.
Before applying to the DMP, students should decide what project they would like to complete in the program. They should compose a general description of the project, including what type of research they will complete (empirical or literature review) and what the final product will be (thesis or review paper). The project proposal need not be very detailed as long as the essential elements are included.

2) Enlist a faculty advisor and second reader.
Next, students must secure a faculty advisor and reader for the DMP project. These should be selected from the Cognitive Science faculty (those faculty members from the five areas of Cognitive Science who teach courses for the Cognitive Science program) or some other faculty members who are specifically suited for advising the project. The selected faculty should sign the application form after approving the project proposal. 

The advisor and reader should be in different areas of Cognitive Science.  For example, if the student's advisor is in the Neuroscience area, the reader may be in the Cognitive Psychology, Computer Science, Linguistics or Philosophy area. A third reader may be brought in from the same field as the advisor if it would be beneficial to do so (e.g., for a highly specific thesis topic that would be most thoroughly understood by someone in that field).

3) Complete and submit the Distinguished Majors Program Application Form
Submit the application with the project proposal to the Cognitive Science Program electronically to cogsci@virginia.edu. Notification regarding acceptances will follow program review of the proposals.

When to Apply

Students usually apply by the third semester prior to graduation. Spring graduates should submit applications by May 31st if possible of the year before graduation. Fall graduates should submit their applications by October 31st of the year prior to graduation. (These are not currently hard deadlines due to COVID 19) 

DMP Procedure

Upon acceptance to the program, candidates should register for COGS 4970 for the first semester of participation. Students should then register for COGS 4980 for the second semester of participation. Additionally, concurrent registration in PSYC 3870 is recommended for each semester. Distinguished Major candidates should arrange to meet regularly with their advisors during both semesters to obtain guidance with their work and feedback on their progress. By the last day of final exams of the fall semester, students may prepare a progress report and discuss the report with their advisors. Early in the second semester, DMP candidates may be asked to share their projects with their fellow candidates and advisors in an informal setting.

The thesis must be completed and submitted with an evaluation form to the thesis advisor and reader at least thirty days prior to graduation. Following consideration of the submitted evaluations, Cognitive Science program recommendations for levels of distinction will be sent to the registrar for addition to diplomas.

Evaluation

Students will usually receive a recommendation for a baccalaureate award of Distinction, High Distinction or Highest Distinction upon successful completion of the Distinguished Major Program. The thesis advisor and second reader will each give an independent rating to the thesis based on the following: 3 = exceptional thesis (in the top 10% of all DMP theses); 2 = very good thesis; 1 = good/acceptable thesis; and 0 = marginal thesis.  The student's GPA will be assigned a value that will be averaged in with the two scores to arrive at the final rating. 

GPA scores are determined as follows: 3 = 3.8 and above; 2 = 3.6-3.79; and 1 = 3.4-3.59. Students who fall below a 3.4 GPA are no longer eligible to be distinguished majors.