Cognitive Science

Coordinator:    ALAN BAKER (Philosophy)
Anna Everetts (Administrative Assistant)

Committee:     Daniel Grodner (Psychology)
K. David Harrison (Linguistics)
Lisa Meeden (Computer Science)  

The minor in cognitive science has been developed to guide the programs of those who are interested in the interdisciplinary study of the mind, brain, and language, with emphases on formal structure, biological information processing, and computation. The Cognitive Science Program is designed to emphasize guided breadth across various disciplines that contribute to cognitive science as well as depth within a chosen discipline.
A student may have many reasons for deciding to minor in cognitive science. Perhaps the simplest is to indicate and explore a particular interest in cognitive science. Whatever your major, a minor in cognitive science indicates a kind of specialized interest and developing expertise. It is our hope that this interest will be integrated with your major area of study, and we hope to help you formulate a plan of studies that sensibly achieves the requirements of the minor.

The Academic Program

We conceive of cognitive science as a loose federation of six specific disciplines. The disciplines included are neuroscience, computer science (including computer engineering), linguistics, mathematics and statistics, philosophy, and cognitive psychology. To demonstrate breadth, students minoring in cognitive science are required to complete at least 5 credits across three of these six disciplines (see details and the list of courses). Students who wish to use 2 credits in mathematics and statistics as one of their disciplines for a cognitive science minor must choose 2 credits from a single sub-area of mathematics and indicate its relevance to at least one of the two other disciplines chosen for the minor. Minors must also show a particular strength or depth in one of the six disciplines.

Course Minor

Six or 7 credits are required for the minor. One of these is a required introductory course, and the remaining 5 or 6 are to be distributed across three different disciplines as described subsequently.
In addition to fulfilling these breadth requirements, students must indicate one cognitive science field in which they have substantial depth of preparation. Such depth can be documented by completion of at least four courses from within a cognitive science discipline (even if some of those courses are not directly related to cognitive science). Alternative curricular and extracurricular ways of fulfilling the depth requirement may be discussed with the coordinator.
Honors Minor
To complete an honors minor in cognitive science, students must complete all requirements listed above. The honors preparation for the minor will normally be a 2-credit unit approved by the relevant department from courses listed for the minor. The minor preparation must be within a discipline that is not the student’s honors major. Students are encouraged to develop an appropriate preparation in consultation with the coordinator.

Special Major

A special major is possible. Please consult with the program coordinator to develop a special major plan. All minors and special majors must normally take COGS 001: Introduction to Cognitive Science.

Thesis / Culminating Exercise

Minors who wish to get formal research experience may choose to complete a 1-credit thesis in cognitive science during their senior year. Non-honors theses in cognitive science will normally be examined by Cognitive Science Committee members from within at least two different departments.


COGS 001. Introduction to Cognitive Science

An introduction to the science of the mind from the perspective of cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, and artificial intelligence. The course introduces students to the scientific investigation of such questions as the following: What does it mean to think or to have consciousness? Can a computer have a mind? What does it mean to have a concept? What is language? What kinds of explanations are necessary to explain cognition?
1 credit.
Spring 2014. Grodner.

COGS 090. Senior Thesis

The one-credit thesis project can be supervised by any of a number of faculty members associated with the departments in the program but should be approved in advance by the program coordinator. A thesis may be used to establish depth in an area and is normally a required component of a special major in cognitive science.
1 credit.
Each semester. Staff.
The remaining 5 required credits are to be distributed evenly among three different disciplines of cognitive science. That is, 2 credits of listed courses from each of three of the six disciplines must be completed, with the exception that in one—and only one—of the three disciplines, a single “focus” course* may be used to meet the breadth requirement. The list of courses currently approved as cognitive science courses is rather selective because it is intended to focus students on the most essential cores of cognitive science within each discipline. For disciplines where there are courses designated as focus courses, at least one focus course must be taken to include that discipline in the minor. Many more courses, taught on campus, are closely relevant to cognitive science; this list is subject to periodic re-evaluation.

Computer Science/Computer Engineering

CPSC 063. Artificial Intelligence (focus course)
CPSC 065. Natural Language Processing
CPSC 081. Adaptive Robotics (focus course)
ENGR 028. Mobile Robotics


LING 040/108. Semantics (focus course)
LING 043/106. Morphology and the Lexicon
LING 045/105. Phonology (focus course)
LING 050/109. Syntax (focus course)
LING 06X. Structure of a non-Indo-European Language

Mathematics and Statistics

The sub-areas of mathematics and their eligible seminars and courses are the following:
Algebra: MATH 057/077, 058, 067, and 102.
Analysis: MATH 034, 044, 053/073, 054, 063, 101, and 103.
Discrete Mathematics: MATH 029, 046, 059/079, and 069.
Geometry: MATH 055/75 and 106.
Statistics: STAT 011, 031, and 061; MATH 105 and STAT 111.
Topology: MATH 104.


BIOL 022. Neurobiology (focus course)
BIOL 123. Learning and Memory
PSYC 030. Physiological Psychology
PSYC 031. Cognitive Neuroscience (focus course)
PSYC 091. Advanced Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 130. Physiological Seminar


PHIL 012/031. Logic/Advanced Logic (focus course)
PHIL 024/113. Theory of Knowledge
PHIL 026/116. Language and Meaning
PHIL 086/118. Philosophy of Mind (focus course)


PSYC 032. Perception (focus course)
PSYC 033. Cognitive Psychology (focus course)
PSYC 034/134. Psychology of Language/Psycholinguistics (focus course)
PSYC 039. Developmental Psychology
PSYC 042. Human Intelligence
PSYC 133. Perception, Cognition, and the Embodied Mind

* Focus courses are concerned with issues most central to cognitive science and are normally taught with this objective in mind.