Bachelor's Degree in Cognitive Sciences

Researchers in this interdisciplinary field seek to understand such mental phenomena as perception, thought, memory, the acquisition and use of language, learning, concept formation, and consciousness. Some investigators focus on relations between brain structures and behavior, some work with computer simulation, and others work at more abstract theoretical levels.

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Cognitive Sciences

Upon completing the BA degree, a student majoring in Cognitive Sciences will be able to:

  • Understand cognitive science as an interdisciplinary field and demonstrate the ability to synthesize key knowledge, theories, methods, research, and other elements from many related disciplines and bring these interdisciplinary elements to bear on problems or questions in the cognitive sciences.
  • Demonstrate a breadth of knowledge of the key issues, questions, and perspectives at stake in the multiple disciplines that contribute to the study of cognitive science.
  • Achieve a depth of knowledge in one core area of cognitive science—linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, or philosophy—and develop a knowledge base in that discipline, as well as an understanding of the theories, methods, and research approaches in that discipline.
  • Demonstrate the advanced critical thinking skills necessary to evaluate multiple theories or methods from a variety of related disciplines and choose which to apply to a particular problem or question in the cognitive sciences, as well as the advanced critical thinking ability necessary to evaluate the validity of research results that purport to address the same problem or question, but with different results.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate original research or research by other scholars effectively and at a college level in written and oral formats.

Degree Requirements for B.A. in Cognitive Sciences

Students majoring in cognitive sciences must complete 9 core courses and 6 additional courses. Among the 6 additional courses, at least 3 and no more than 4 must be in a single area of concentration—Computation, Psychology, Neuroscience, Linguistics, or Philosophy.

Introductory Courses

Because the major is interdisciplinary, no single course introduces the full range of the subject. However, students who are interested in majoring in cognitive sciences should take 1 or more of the following courses during their 1st and 2nd years: PHIL 130 Sciences of the Mind, PSYC 203 Intro to Cognitive Psychology, or LING 200 Intro to the Scientific Study of Language.

Independent Research

Majors may undertake supervised independent research by enrolling in CSCI 390 or the honors program and may apply up to 6 credits of independent research toward the major. Students who wish to take CSCI 390 must complete a CSCI 390 contract and have it approved by their supervisor and the program director prior to the end of the 1st week of classes. All students taking CSCI 390 also must write a substantive research paper, which is to be submitted to both their advisor and the program director at the end of the semester. (Copies of the contract form and instructions are available on the “forms” section of the cognitive sciences website.)

Honors Program

Students with a 3.5 GPA in cognitive sciences and 3.3 overall GPA may apply for the Cognitive Sciences Honors Program. Students in the Honors Program are expected to conduct a 2 semester independent research project under the guidance of a member of the Cognitive Sciences faculty. Students who wish to enter this program should consult with prospective advisors during their junior year and submit a proposal by the end of the semester proceeding the initiation of the project. Typically, this means submitting a proposal by the end of the junior year and beginning the project during the fall of the senior year. Proposal will be reviewed by both the supervisor and the program director. Students will be allowed to continue into the 2nd semester only if their advisor judges that sufficient progress has been made during the 1st semester. At the end of a project, honors students are expected to submit a final paper to both their advisor and the program director and make an oral presentation. For more details, contact the program director.