FAQs for Undergrads

What is Cognitive Science?

Cognitive science is a diverse field unifying three broad categories: the brain, behavior and computation. It's the study of how people, animals and computers think, act and learn. In order to understand the mind/brain, cognitive science brings together the methods and discoveries from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and computer science.

UCSD has been at the forefront of this exciting field. Our Department of Cognitive Science was the first of its kind in the world, and as part of an exceptional scientific community, it remains a dominant influence in the field it helped to create.

What are the course requirements towards a degree in Cognitive Science?

All Cognitive Science majors must complete lower-division courses in neurobiology, calculus, statistics, and computer programming. The B.A. and B.S. degrees require completion of twelve upper-division courses. All majors first complete courses from core sequences in areas like Cognitive Phenomena, Cognitive Neuroscience, Computational Models and Cognitive Engineering. Elective courses fulfill the remaining requirements of each major.

How do I declare Cognitive Science as a major?

To declare a Cognitive Science major, go to TritonLink and under “Advising & Grades” select “Major and Minor” then follow the screen instructions. The major code for a general B.A. or B.S. is CG25.

What is an area of specialization?

The Department of Cognitive Science has instituted optional "areas of specialization" within the major of cognitive science for the B.S. degree only. Students may still major in cognitive science at either the B.A. or B.S. level without a specialization. The additional requirement for the specialization is that at least 4 of 6 electives must be from the list of courses approved for that area. In addition, a cognitive science 199 may be allowed for elective credit within the specialization if the research project was clearly related to one of the specialization areas. The specialization will be listed on the transcript.

What do computers have to do with Cognitive Science?

Firstly, computers are used to model cognitive phenomena. For example, computers are used to model the activity of a brain, a perceptual process, individual decision making or the interaction of people in a group. Second, cognitive scientists study how people interact with computers and how computers can be designed to be easy to use.

What's the difference between Cognitive Science and Computer Science?

Computer Science deals with solving problems through the use of a computer while Cognitive Science deals with the understanding how the brain works and how behavior is shaped by outside stimuli. To understand the brain, you need to simulate and analyze models of the brain with the help of computers. Cognitive Science encapsulates Computer Science but not the other way around.

What can I do with a degree in Cognitive Science?

Currently, the most frequent job placements for Cognitive Science graduates are in the computer industry in the areas of cognitive engineering (human factors), human-computer interface design, artificial intelligence, neural network applications, and software design and development. There is also a growing demand in the research industry, particularly in biotechnical and pharmaceutical companies, because students also take courses in biology and chemistry.

In addition to preparing students for careers in a variety of sciences, the major also provides an excellent background for many professional fields including medicine, clinical psychology, and design and information technology.

Here is a list of CogSci alumni and their post-grad jobs or studies.

What is a Cognitive Science 199?

A Cognitive Science 199 is an independent study course for advanced students who wish to complete a one-quarter reading or research project under the mentorship of a faculty member. Students should contact faculty whose research interests them to discuss possible projects. A list of 199 oportunities is posted here.

How can I declare a minor in Cognitive Science?

Go to TritonLink and under “Advising & Grades” select “Major & Minor” then follow the screen instructions. To receive a minor from the Department of Cognitive Science, a student must complete a total of seven (four-unit) courses; five of which must be upper-division. All courses must be taken for a letter grade and receive at least a C- grade. Upper-division courses cannot overlap between major and minor requirements, and they cannot be used to satisfy requirements of more than one minor. You cannot major and minor in the same department.

How can I declare a double major in Cognitive Science and another department?

You can pick up a double-major petition at your college advising office. You should consult with an academic advisor as well as both department advisors to be sure you fulfill requirements of the college and the major departments.