Schools, Departments & Programs

Cognitive Science

Major in Cognitive Science—B.A.

The B.A. Major in Cognitive Science is structured to give students fundamental skills, applicable in a wide variety of information-related careers: psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, media, information processing, medical analysis, data representation and information retrieval, education, scientific research, human-computer interaction, multimedia knowledge management, and information policy. The skills also have wide applicability to technical and expository writing, mathematical analysis, experimental techniques, and computer programming.

Cognitive Science explores the nature of intelligent systems, focusing on formal theories of mind and information and seeks a better understanding of mind, learning and teaching, cognitive skills, and the development of intelligent systems designed to augment human capacities in constructive ways. The field is inherently interdisciplinary, with contributions from computer science, psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, biology, anthropology, and other fields. Both natural intelligence (in humans and in animals) and artificial intelligence fall within the scope of inquiry. The field deals with aspects of complex cognition, computational models of thought processing, knowledge representation, dynamics of real-world engagement, and emergent behavior of large-scale interacting systems.


In addition to the requirements for the B.A. degree in the College of Arts and Sciences, including the requirement for a minimum of 30 College of Arts and Sciences credit hours in the major subject area, students must complete the following:

  1. CORE: The five-course sequence: Q240, Q260, Q320, Q350 and Q370. Q260 and Q320 are first- and second-8-week courses, respectively, and are normally scheduled so that they may be taken consecutively during the same semester. Cognitive science majors who earn a grade of B or higher in CSCI-C 211 or equivalent are exempt from Q260.
  2. CONCENTRATION: Three courses in one of the following areas: cognition, computation, foundations, informatics, language, logic, and neuroscience. Of these three courses, at least one must be at or above the 200 level, and at least two at or above the 300 level. The following courses are preapproved for the seven concentrations:
    • Cognition: COGS Q301; HON H241 (Approved topic: Animal Thinking); PSY P325, P329, P330, P335, P350, P424, P435, P438, P440, P441, P443; SPHS S307.
    • Computation: COGS Q351, Q360; CSCI A321, C211, C212, C241, C311, C335, C343, B351 (or their honors equivalents)
    • Foundations: HON H241 (Approved topic: Animal Thinking); PHIL P310, P312, P320, P360, P366
    • Informatics: INFO I210 (or CSCI A201), I211 (or CSCI A202 or C212), I300, I320; CSCI A346
    • Language: LING L203, L306, L307, L308, L310, L325, L430, L490; PSY P438, P441; SPHS S201, S302, S307, S333, S378, S420, S436
    • Logic: PHIL P250, P251, P350, P352; MATH M384, M385; CSCI B401, P415
    • Neuroscience: COGS Q301; PHYS P317; PSY P326, P337, P346, P407, P410, P411, P423, P426, P441
    • In addition to these preapproved concentrations, other specialized concentrations may be designed by individual students and submitted for approval to the cognitive science undergraduate curriculum committee.
  3. BREADTH: Three ADDITIONAL courses from at least two different departments, outside of the concentration area. For a list of such courses, please see the section of this Bulletin entitled "Courses Related to Cognitive Science." The cognitive science undergraduate curriculum committee must approve courses not on the list on an individual basis.
  4. SENIOR SEMINAR: Students must complete COGS Q400 Senior Seminar in the Cognitive and Information Sciences.
  5. A minimum of 18 credit hours of coursework in the major must be completed at the 300–400 level.