Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science is the study of mental abilities such as perception, action, memory, thinking, reasoning, speech and language. Cognitive Science examines these topics in behavior and their underlying bases in the brain using behavioral, computational and scientific methods. The undergraduate concentration is designed to provide a flexible interdisciplinary approach with four areas of emphasis: perception, cognition, language, and cognitive neuroscience. Course work in related departments is encouraged. A Cognitive Science degree provides excellent preparation for careers in the sciences, computer fields, health professions, law, medicine and education.

The A.B. program requires 13 credits and is primarily for students interested in studying human mental processes. The Sc.B. program requires 18 courses and is intended for students who want to pursue an avenue(s) of study at a deeper level. We recommend that prospective concentrators register for CLPS0020 or one of the other core courses preferably in their first or second year.

I. Standard program for the A.B. degree: 13 courses


Required core courses: Required courses in skills and methodology: Required Capstone: Electives:

Students must complete 4 additional courses, chosen from relevant courses in Cognitive Science offered in the CLPS department as well as departments across the University. In most cases, electives must be at the 1000-level and must show coherence and provide the concentrator with depth in one or more focus areas. Only one course below the 1000-level can be included in this list, and only with permission of the concentration advisor. Example electives and possible fields of study are shown in the Appendix of this document. Students are strongly encouraged to work out their program of electives with the concentration advisor.

II. Standard program for the Sc.B. degree: 18 Courses

III. Degrees with Honors

Students interested in honors under either the A.B. or ScB. programs should identify a faculty honors sponsor and sign up with the concentration advisor during Semester 6. Although there is no minimum grade point average to enter the program, admission to the program is limited to students who have accumulated a strong academic record and is at the discretion of the department. It is expected that honors candidates will conduct a year-long research project under the direction of a faculty sponsor in the CLPS department culminating in a written thesis and oral examination at the end of Semester 8. Students doing honors work may enroll for CLPS 1970 (COGS 1970) or CLPS 1980 for two terms.

IV. Independent Study

Independent Study is encouraged for the A.B. degree and required for the Sc.B. degree. Students should sign up for CLPS 1970 (COGS 1970) or CLPS 1980 with a faculty advisor who is a member of the CLPS Department. Arrangements should be made in Semester 6 for students expecting to do independent study during Semesters 7 and/or 8.

Cognitive Science concentrators may use at most two credits of CLPS 1970 or CLPS 1980 towards their degree. Students in the A.B. program can use these two credits to satisfy electives. Students in the Sc.B. program must use one of these credits to satisfy the Independent Study requirement (Requirement B in Section II above), and may use the second to satisfy an elective or one of the four additional courses (Requirement C in Section II).

V. Comments

Both the A.B. and the Sc.B programs in Cognitive Science reflect recent national trends in the field and the breadth of the course offerings and faculty research interests at Brown. A broadly trained cognitive scientist must possess certain methodological skills, including knowledge of computational methods and research methods (statistics and laboratory techniques), which are incorporated in our skills and methodology requirement. In addition, a cognitive scientist must be conversant in the four major focus areas studied in the field: perception, cognition, languages and cognitive neuroscience. Electives ensure that concentrators have the opportunity to investigate at least one particular area in depth. Finally, the concentration provides an integrative experience to all of its concentrators through the capstone senior seminar. The program is designed to provide the flexibility for each student to design a program that will meet her/his needs and interests.

The Sc.B. program is designed for students who wish to bring a stronger background in general science and a research orientation to their study of cognitive science. Sc.B. candidates must also acquire first-hand experience in doing cognitive science research through an independent study project.

Appendix : Electives:

The following are a list of courses that could satisfy the electives requirement for the A.B. degree or the four additional courses necessary for the Sc.B degree. Because of the changing availability and the nature of the curriculum of the CLPS department and the University, this list is not exhaustive and varies from year to year. Other courses may occasionally be substituted with permission of the concentration advisor. Note that most of the courses for electives must be at the 1000-level. Exceptions can be made through discussion with the concentration advisor.

Page last updated in February, 2012.

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