140 Cognitive Science Building
Cognitive science is a diverse field that is unified and motivated by a single basic inquiry: What is cognition? How do people, animals, or computers “think,” act, and learn? In order to understand the mind/brain, cognitive science brings together methods and discoveries from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and computer science. UC San Diego has been at the forefront of this exciting field and the Department of Cognitive Science was the first of its kind in the world. It is part of an exceptional scientific community and remains a dominant influence in the field it helped create.
In addition to preparing undergraduates for careers in a variety of sciences, the major also provides an excellent background for many professional fields, including medicine, clinical psychology, and information technology.
The concerns of cognitive science fall into three broad categories: the brain—the neurological anatomy and processes underlying cognitive phenomena; behavior—the cognitive activity of individuals and their interaction with each other and their sociocultural environment, including the use of language, information, and media; and computation—the capacity of mathematical and computer systems to model cognitive and neural phenomena and represent information, and the role of computers as cognitive tools.
The department collaborates closely with other academic departments and research communities, including the Center for Research in Language, the Center for Human Development, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the UC San Diego Medical Center, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the Center for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, and the new Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, providing many outstanding resources and opportunities.
Students are encouraged to participate actively in the department by sharing their ideas about curriculum, research, and other topics with faculty and staff. Undergraduate students may join the Students in Cognitive and Neurosciences (SCANS) organization, which provides opportunities for undergraduates to meet students and faculty from UC San Diego and other institutes, visit research laboratories, and make job contacts. Graduate students take an especially active role in shaping the department, both academically and administratively, while they gain experience in research, teaching, and managing both labs and department affairs.
The department offers both a BA and a BS degree. The BS requires completion of more rigorous lower-division course work and three additional courses at the upper-division level. The BS degree may be taken optionally with a specified area of specialization. There is also an honors program for exceptional students in both degree programs. Major Code: CG25.
Please note: students who officially declared the major before fall 2001 may choose to follow the old major requirements or the new major requirements, but not a combination of both. See department adviser for more information.
Grade Requirements for the Major
A minimum grade point average of 2.0 is required for admittance to and graduation from the BA or BS degree program. Students must receive a grade of C– or better in any course to be counted toward fulfillment of the major requirements. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, with the exception of Cognitive Science 195, 198, and 199, which are taken Pass/Not Pass.
Four-Year Plan of Study
The four-year plan of study below assures that all prerequisites and requirements for the cognitive science major are completed. The department does enforce course prerequisites and several courses are offered only once a year, so careful planning is important. It is recommended that lower-division courses be taken in the first two years, core courses in the third year, and electives in the final year. Check with a departmental adviser about which quarter cognitive science courses will be offered each academic year. Check with a college adviser about course planning to meet college requirements.
Twelve units of math (BA), or sixteen units of math (BS). Students intending to take Cognitive Science 118A and/or 118B should take Mathematics 20A-B-C, and meet your college requirements.
Cognitive Science 1. Cognitive Science 14. Computer Science and Engineering 7. Students intending to take Cognitive Science 118A and/or 118B should take Mathematics 20E-F and Mathematics 180A.
Nine core courses, chosen from a list of twelve (see “Core Sequences”)
Electives for the major
All majors must complete lower-division courses in introductory cognitive science, mathematics, statistics, and computer programming.
The cognitive science major requires twelve units of mathematics courses (for the BA degree), or sixteen units of mathematics courses (for the BS degree), chosen from the following list:
Mathematics 15A or CSE 20
Mathematics 15B or CSE 21
(Students should check with the Department of Mathematics for rules governing duplication of credit between the 10 and 20 series.)
Lower-Division Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts
Twelve units of mathematics courses chosen from the following: Math 10A-B-C, Math 20A-B-C-D-E-F, Math 15A or CSE 20, Math 15B or CSE 21, in addition to the lower-division cognitive science course requirements.
Lower-Division Requirements for the Bachelor of Science
Sixteen units of mathematics courses chosen from the following: Math 20A-B-C-D-E-F, Math 15A or CSE 20, Math 15B or CSE 21, in addition to the lower-division cognitive science course requirements.
Lower-Division Cognitive Science Course Requirements
The following lower-division courses in cognitive science are required for all majors:
Cognitive Science 1
Cognitive Science 14
Computer Science and Engineering 7
Students intending to take Cognitive Science 118A and/or 118B are advised to take Mathematics 20-A-B-C-E-F and Mathematics 180A before their junior year.
The cognitive science major requires the completion of nine core sequence courses, plus three elective courses (for the BA degree), or six elective courses (for the BS degree). Students are advised to complete these core courses in their junior year, especially if they intend to apply to the honors program. The remainder of the upper-division requirement is fulfilled by completing electives.
The core sequences courses in the Department of Cognitive Science are
Cognitive Science 101A-B-C (Cognitive Theory and Phenomena)
Cognitive Science 102A-B-C (Distributed Cognition, Everyday Cognition, Cognitive Engineering)
Cognitive Science 107A-B-C (Cognitive Neuroscience)
Cognitive Science 109, 118A-B (Computational Models of Cognition)
The cognitive science major requires the completion of nine courses from the core sequences, which must include two courses in the Cognitive Science 101 series, two in the Cognitive Science 102 series, two in the Cognitive Science 107 series, Cognitive Science 109, and two additional courses from any of the core sequences.
At least half of the electives for the major must be taken in the department. Courses in the Cognitive Science 19X series (190A, 190B, 190C, 198, 199) may not be used as an elective to satisfy the major requirements for the BA degree. One course in the Cognitive Science 19X series may be used as an elective to satisfy the requirements for the BS degree, but only with the approval of both the instructor who supervised the course and the undergraduate adviser. A course taken outside the department must meet the following criteria:
- The course must deal with topics and issues that are clearly part of cognitive science.
- The material must not be available in a course offered inside the department.
This policy permits students and their advisers to be responsive to changes in course offerings. Majors must obtain departmental approval for electives taken outside of the department.
Areas of Specialization
A major may elect to receive a BS in cognitive science with a specified area of specialization. The areas of specialization are intended to provide majors with guidance in choosing elective courses and to make the specific interests and training of a major clear to prospective employers and graduate schools. Specifying an area of specialization is optional; however, students should take into consideration when planning for their specialization that approved courses are not necessarily offered every year.
To major in cognitive science with an area of specialization, the student must fulfill the requirements for the BS degree and must choose four of the required six elective courses from a list of approved electives for that area of specialization. (The lists of approved electives for each area of specialization are available in the department office.)
The following areas of specialization are currently offered by the department:
Specialization in Clinical Aspects of Cognition
This area of specialization is intended for majors interested in cognitive neuropsychology, psychiatry, cognitive disorders, and the effects of drugs and brain damage on cognitive functions. Allowed electives include courses in those topics, as well as organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology. Major code: CG31
Specialization in Computation
This area of specialization is intended for majors interested in software engineering or research in computational modeling of cognition. Allowed electives include advanced courses in neural networks, artificial intelligence, and computer science. Students interested in this specialization will most likely select courses from the computer science and engineering course offerings, as courses offered within the cognitive science department are limited. Major code: CG27
Specialization in Human Cognition
This area of specialization is intended for majors whose primary interests include human psychology and applications of cognitive science in design and engineering. Allowed electives include courses in cognitive development, language, laboratory research of cognition, anthropology, and sociology. Major code: CG28
Specialization in Human Computer Interaction
This area of specialization is intended for majors interested in human computer interaction; Web; visualization; and applications of cognitive science in design and engineering. Additional electives may be petitioned from communication, computer science, computer engineering, and visual arts. Major code: CG30
Specialization in Neuroscience
This area of specialization is intended for majors interested in neuroscience research or medicine. Allowed electives include courses in cognitive neuroscience, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physiology. Major code: CG29
The Department of Cognitive Science offers an honors program for a limited number of majors who have demonstrated excellence, talent, and high motivation.
Students are eligible for admission to the program when they
- Complete all core courses
- Have at least junior level standing
- Have at least a 3.5 GPA in upper-division major courses and at least a 3.0 overall GPA
Eligible students will enroll in four units of 190A (Pre-Honors Project in Cognitive Science) under a faculty member who has agreed to advise them on a potential honors project. Students may apply the COGS 190A course as an elective toward major requirements whether or not they enter the Honors Program. At the end of the 190A course, students will submit to their faculty mentor a written project proposal. The proposal will define the question to be investigated, survey existing literature, describe the approach and methods that will be used, explain how data will be collected if it is an empirical study, detail how human subjects requirements will be met if necessary, discuss expected results, and provide a timeline for project completion.
Acceptance in Honors Program
To formally enter the Honors Program, students must meet the eligibility requirements above, receive a grade of A– or better in COGS 190A, establish an honors committee of at least two faculty and one graduate student to review the proposal and advise them during the process of completing the honors project, and have their project proposal approved by their honors committee.
The honors committee must be kept informed of any deviations from the original approved project proposal and timeline. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress may be asked to withdraw from the program at any point the adviser or the department chair deems necessary.
Successful completion of the Honors Program requires
- Maintenance of a 3.5 GPA in upper-division major courses, and a 3.0 overall GPA
- Completion of one cognitive science (or related) graduate level course (may be taken P/NP). Students may use the required graduate course as one of their electives for the major whether or not they complete the honors project
- Completion of COGS 190B, 190C and 160 with letter grades of A- or better
- Completion of COGS 190D (Preparation for Thesis Presentation), a 1-unit seminar given each spring (P/NP)
- Completion of a written honors thesis describing the project
- Approval of the thesis by the honors committee and the department chair
- Satisfactory presentation of the honors thesis to the cognitive science community at the Honors Thesis Presentation Conference, spring quarter
Students who successfully complete all of the requirements for the Honors Program will graduate with Distinction in Cognitive Science recorded on their transcripts.
Minors and Programs of Concentration
Each college has specific requirements, and students should consult with an academic adviser in their provost’s office as well as a cognitive science adviser to be sure they fulfill requirements of the college and of the department.
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. Lower-division requirements are normally fulfilled by completing (one of) Cognitive Science 1, 3, 10 or 11 and (one of) Cognitive Science 14, 17 or CSE 18. Upper-division requirements are normally fulfilled by completing two cognitive science electives and one of the following sequences:
Cognitive Science 101A-B-C
Cognitive Science 102A-B-C
Cognitive Science 107A-B-C
Cognitive Science 109, 118A-B
All courses must be taken for a letter grade. No grade below C– is acceptable.
Students who wish to transfer from another institution to UC San Diego as cognitive science majors should work closely with university advisers to ensure that all lower-division requirements have been completed and are equivalent to those offered at UC San Diego. It is extremely important for students to have completed lower-division requirements by the end of their sophomore year so they are prepared for core courses in their junior year. Advanced UC San Diego students who wish to transfer to the department should consult with the departmental advisers about credit for courses already completed.
Students majoring in cognitive science are encouraged to participate in the Education Abroad Programs (EAP), and to investigate other options of foreign study through the Opportunities Abroad Program (OAP). By petition, credits earned through EAP/OAP can fulfill UC San Diego degree and major requirements. Please visit the website at http://programsabroad.ucsd.edu for further details. Financial aid is applicable and special study abroad scholarships are readily available.