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Interdisciplinary Concentration in Cognitive Science

Program Planner

Cognitive science is the empirical exploration of intelligent systems. It is, by its very nature, an interdisciplinary science combining results from anthropology, biology, computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology. It challenges students to be knowledgeable in a wide variety of fields and techniques.

Cognitive science explores human, animal, and mental processes at the level of the neuron, the central nervous system, the behavior of individuals, the evolution and structure of communication and culture, as well as artificial intelligence computation, and the theory of knowledge. It is the most rapidly growing interdisciplinary arena in colleges and universities.

At the end of their program of focused liberal learning, students with an Interdisciplinary Concentration in Cognitive Studies should have a fundamental understanding of current theories concerning:

  • The nature and justification of claims to knowledge including justification of beliefs and theories, and forms of rationalism, empiricism, and skepticism;
  • The structure of language, symbols, and images for representing, manipulating, and communicating knowledge;
  • How brains and computational systems establish memory, solve problems, form concepts, and develop understandings of the world;
  • Core ideas in biology including molecular and cellular neurobiology, and receptor biochemistry.

In addition, students should demonstrate proficiency in quantitative methods for gathering empirical evidence and analyzing data, and understand the powers and limits of various representations within the controlled situations of the laboratory, or the natural situations of the everyday world.

Faculty Sponsors

Co-Sponsors- Jeff Erickson (Biology), Andrew Leynes (Psychology), Miroslav Martinovic (Computer Science), Regina Morin (Modern Languages), Pierre Le Morvan (Philosophy & Religion), Consuelo Pretri (Philosophy & Religion), Felicia Steele (English), Ursula Wolz (Computer Science)


A total of seven courses plus prerequisites where necessary  

Arts and Humanities

Two of the following

  • PHL 311 Philosophy of Science (Prerequisite: One course in philosophy and one course in natural or social science, or permission of the instructor)
  • PHL 410 Theory of Knowledge (Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor)
  • PHL 421 Philosophy of Language (Prerequisite: PHL 120 and two 200-level or higher Philosophy courses or by permission of instructor)
  • PHL 422 Philosophy of Mind (Prerequisite: PHL 120 and two 200-level or higher Philosophy courses or by permission of instructor)
  • LNG 201 Introduction to the English Language*
  • WLC 215 Introduction to Linguistics*
  • WLC 220 Introduction to Romance Linguistics (Prerequisite: French, Spanish, Italian, or Portugese 103 or a course in linguistics elsewhere in the College, or permission of the instructor)
  • WLC 321 Introduction to Historical Linguistics (Prerequisite: a general introduction to linguistics course (e.g., SPA 372 History of the Spanish Language, or LNG 202 Structure and History of the English Language, or MDL/WLC 220 Introduction to Romance Linguistics), or MDL/WLC 215 Introduction to Linguistics, or permission of the instructor)

Social Sciences and History

Two of the following

  • ANT 205 – Human Evolution*
  • PSY 214 – Cognitive Psychology (Prerequisite: PSY 101 or permission of instructor)
  • PSY 311 – Sensation and Perception (Prerequisite: PSY 214 or permission of instructor)
  • PSY 346 – Cognitive Neuroscience Prerequisite: PSY 212 or permission of instructor)

Natural Science and Quantitative Reasoning

One course from each of the following categories

Natural Science

One of the following

    • BIO 171/Human Form and Function*
    • BIO 185/Themes in Biology*
    • BIO 465/Physiology and Behavioral Ecology (Prerequisite: BIO 261)

Quantitative Reasoning

One of the following

  • CSC 104/Human and Artificial IntelligenceNOTE: Any statistics course approved for the Quantitative Reasoning requirement including STA 115/Statistics, STA 215/Statistical Inference, PSY 203/Design and Analysis.

Special Focus Courses

One course from the following

  • BIO 480/Neurobiology (Prerequisite: BIO 211)
  • CSC 280/Artificial Intelligence for Non-Computer Science Majors (Prerequisites: PHL 120 or CSC 230 or MAT 200)
  • CSC 380/Artificial Intelligence (Prerequisites: CSC 230 and 310 with grade of C or better)
  • PSY 371/Cognitive Seminar (Prerequisite: PSY 214 or permission of the instructor)
  • WGS 230/Gendered Technoculture*

*No listed prerequisites.