Schools, Departments & Programs

Cognitive Science

Major in Cognitive Science—B.S.

The B.S. Degree in Cognitive Science stresses hands-on, active learning, where students work with concrete examples in the classroom and labs, joining into research as soon as they enter the degree program. The Cognitive Science Program 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. Cognitive Science 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.


Students must complete the following Foundations, Intensive Writing, Foreign Language, Public Oral Communication, Breadth of Inquiry and Critical Approaches requirements:

  1. Writing, same as B.A. degree (English Composition, Intensive Writing).
  2. Mathematics: three courses to include (a) MATH-M 211; (b) another MATH course at or above the 200 level; (c) another MATH course at or above the 300 level (includes PSY-K 300 and equivalent statistics courses).
  3. Foreign language: three semesters in the same language, or equivalent proficiency.
  4. One Critical Approaches course (COLL-C 103, C104, C105, or approved equivalents).
  5. Arts and Humanities: two courses.
  6. Social and Historical Studies: two courses.
  7. Natural and Mathematical Sciences: two courses. Must include at least one Natural Science course in fulfillment of the General Education curriculum, which can be combined with the math and logic foundation courses required by the major (6–8 cr.).
  8. One Public Oral Communication course.

Students must also complete the following requirements for the Cognitive Science major portion of the degree:

  1. CORE: The five-course sequence: COGS-Q 240, 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 receive a grade of B or higher in CSCI-C 211 or equivalent are exempt from COGS-Q 260.
  2. CONCENTRATION: Three courses in one of the following areas: cognition, computation, 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 six concentrations:
    • Cognition  HON-H 241 (Approved topic: Animal Thinking), PSY-P 325, P329, P330, P335, P350, P424, P435, P438, P440, P441, P443; SPHS-S 307.
    • Computation  COGS-Q 351, Q360; CSCI-A 321, C211, C212, C241, C311, C335, C343, B351 (or their Honors equivalents).
    • Informatics  INFO-I 210 (or CSCI-A 201), I211 (or CSCI-A 202 or C212), INFO-I 300, I320; CSCI-A 346.
    • Language  LING-L 203, L306, L307, L308, L310, L325, L430, L490; PSY-P 438, P441; SPHS-S 201, S302, S307, S333, S378, S420, S436.
    • Logic  PHIL-P 250, P251, P350, P352; MATH-M 384, M385; CSCI-B 401, P415.
    • Neuroscience  PHYS-P 317; PSY-P 326, 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. COGNITIVE SCIENCE: COGS-Q 301 Brain and Cognition.
  4. COMPUTATION: Two courses at the 200-level or above from the approved list of courses in Computer Science. Please see the listing for "Computer Science" in the section of this Bulletin entitled "Courses Related to Cognitive Science."
  5. 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 on an individual basis courses that are not on the list.
  6. SENIOR SEMINAR: Students must complete COGS-Q 400 Senior Seminar in the Cognitive and Information Sciences.
  7. RESEARCH: At least 6 credit hours from any combination of COGS-X 497, X498, and Q499.
  8. At least 18 hours of coursework must be completed at the 300–400 level.