About the Major

Cognitive Science is the interdisciplinary study of mind and cognition. It uses approaches and insights from psychology, computer science, philosophy, neuroscience, and linguistics, among other disciplines to develop information processing accounts of cognitive and mental functions. Central topics include perception, memory, reasoning, motor control, language, and the nature of consciousness. Research in the cognitive science program is problem-oriented. 

Students pursuing a major in Cognitive Science will become familiar with the basic approaches of psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, computer science, and linguistics. Electives will allow students to gain specialized knowledge in a particular problem area of cognitive science. With guidance of an adviser in the program, the student will design a course of study concentrating on a particular problem that can be tackled by a variety of methods, such as computer simulations of psychological processes, computational linguistics, philosophy, and psychology.

Because this is a smaller program, courses are offered with less frequency and thus students must plan ahead carefully. Exceptions to the listed requirements may be allowed, particularly to accommodate unavoidable conflicts necessitated by the D-Plan.

Note: The major requirements have changed. Classes matriculating prior to the class of 2020 may opt to fulfill the new requirements if they can do so within their D-Plan. The entering class of 2020 and beyond must fulfill the new requirements. 

Students must take COGS 01 before declaring a major in Cognitive Science.

Chair  Adina Roskies, Thornton Hall, room 303

Note also, that core courses *cannot* be NRO'd and no course can count as contributing to the major with a NR.

How to file a major  (click here).

Click here to see a list of relevant courses to help structure your major.

Cognitive Science - What and why?

Cognitive Science - Is it for me?

Cognitive Science - Where do I start?

Cognitive Science - Junior Seminar

Cognitive Science - Culminating Experience

Cognitive Science - Course Timing

Cognitive Science - How do I declare?





Students planning on declaring a major must file 2020 COGS Major Worksheet and submit it electronically to the Chair (Lindsay Whaley) for approval by steering committee prior to approval in DartWorks.   Students designing a new focus must provide a rationale for their focus area explaining how each course fits in.  



  • COGS 1: Introduction to Cognitive Science (needed to declare the major- offered in the Spring term)
  • A 10-level statistics course (PSYC 10; ECON 10; GOV 10 or equivalent)


  • Linguistics 1
  • Computer Science 1
  • COGS 25 (Philosophy of Cognitive Science)
  • Psychology 28 (Cognition)


Each COGS major will have to satisfy four courses in a focus area. In some cases, students will be allowed to design their own focus area, which must include a description of a coherent problem area and rationale for the course of study, and 4 relevant (and available) courses. Focus area proposals must be approved by the advisor and the chair of the Cognitive Science steering committee.

SAMPLE FOCUS AREA: (click here)

  • Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
  • Cognitive Engineering
  • Computational Modeling
  • Consciousness
  • Language Acquisition and Development
  • Learning and Education
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Perception, Representation and Knowledge


  • In addition, one elective course, either in or beyond the focus area, must involve a laboratory component (PSYC 11 or other course with laboratory by approval; courses in a number of departments could fulfill this requirement).


  • Junior seminar in Cognitive Science, COGS 80, offered in the fall term. This course will be a series of lectures by faculty working in Cognitive Science across the college. Students will discuss readings prior to the lecture, and will meet after the lecture with the speaker for intensive discussion. Majors must take this at least once.
  • One course or course sequence that satisfies the requirement for a culminating activity, which may be met in one of three ways:
    1. Completing a cogs_honors_theses_copy.pdf (Cognitive Science 86, 87). See below.
    2. Carrying out a one or two term cogs_independent_study_copy.pdf(Cognitive Science 85)
    3. Completing a second term of the Junior Cognitive Science seminar, with an advanced term paper.

Proposal due dates: by the eight week of the spring term prior to thesis work beginning in the fall, and by the fifth week of the fall term prior to thesis work beginning in the winter. 



The Honors Program in Cognitive Science offers qualified students the opportunity to undertake independent research under the direction of a faculty member. Students who plan to undertake such a project should have a 3.33 grade average in all courses taken at the College and an average of 3.5 for courses within the major.

It is important to consult with a prospective advisor as early as possible, preferably during the junior year.

Applications to the Honors Program may be submitted either during the spring of the junior year or the fall of the senior year. Applications for a thesis beginning in the fall must be submitted to the Chair and administrator by the 8th week of the previous spring term and applications for a thesis beginning in the winter must be submitted by the 5th week of the fall.

The project itself normally lasts two terms. Students will take COGS 86 the first term and COGS 87 the second. The completed thesis is to be submitted during the spring term, and an oral presentation will be given at a special seminar of students and faculty.

Complete form cogsci_letter.pdf




  • COGS 2/PSYC 28 
  • PSYC 10 or SOCY 10 or equivalent


  • LING 1
  • COSC 1 (formerly COSC 5)
  • PHIL 26 (Philosophy and Computers) or  35 (Philosophy of Mind)
  • PSYC 11 or approved equivalent

 III One course that satisfies the requirement for a culminating activity, which may be met in one of three ways:

  • Completing a senior Honors thesis (COGS 86, 87)
  • Taking an advanced seminar in cognitive science or a relevant advanced seminar in Linguistics (e.g. LING 80), Philosophy (PHIL 80), or PBS or Education. Courses must be approved by the steering committee.
  • Carrying out a one or two term independent study project (COGS 85)

IV Five additional courses selected from those listed below:

  • At least two of the four areas must be represented;
  • PSYC 21, PSYC 25, PSYC 26, PSYC 40, PSYC 51, PSYC 52, PSYC 60, PSYC 64, PSYC 65, and relevant seminars in PSYC
  • PHIL 6, PHIL 26, PHIL 27, PHIL 30, PHIL 32, PHIL 33, PHIL 34, and relevant seminars in Philosophy
  • COSC 10 (formerly COSC 8), COSC 31 (formerly COSC 25), COSC 39, COSC 59 (formerly COSC 68), COSC 76 (formerly COSC 44), and COSC 79 (formerly COSC 53)
  • LING 10, LING 20-26 and relevant seminars in Linguistics