Carnegie Mellon University

Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science

The Psychology Department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive Science. The field of cognitive science has grown out of increasingly active interaction among psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, philosophy, and neuroscience. All of these fields share the goal of understanding intelligence. By combining these diverse perspectives, students of cognitive science are able to understand cognition at a deep level. Because this major is administered by the Psychology Department, it focuses on human cognition and the experimental study of the human mind as illuminated by the techniques of the above five disciplines, with an emphasis on computer science forming an important part. 

The heart of the Cognitive Science major is the concentration.  Each concentration is designed by the student, in collaboration with their adviser, to customize the major to the student’s own interests.  To satisfy the requirements of the concentration, students must take 36 units of coursework (not necessarily from within the psychology department) that are related to a theme or topic central to the field of cognitive science such as artificial intelligence, linguistics, or neuroscience.

Students pursuing a major in Cognitive Science will:

  • Gain an interdisciplinary skillset drawing from psychology, computer science, and linguistics.
  • Understand how to use computational tools such as computer simulations to develop and test claims about cognition.
  • Acquire foundational knowledge about areas of cognitive science such as perception, attention, learning, or memory.
  • Develop the skills to transform intuitions about cognition into quantifiable, testable predictions through training in mathematics, computer science, and psychological methods.

Cognitive Science Degree Requirements

  • Two semester Calculus sequence
  • Concepts of Mathematics
  • Two semester Statistics sequence
  • Fundamentals of Programming Course
  • Computational/Cognitive Modeling Core (3 courses)
  • Cognitive Psychology Core (3 courses)
  • Cognitive Research Methods Course
  • Cognitive Science Concentration (4 courses)
  • 2 Natural Sciences

Sample Concentrations

Concentrations in Cognitive Science are created in consultation with your adviser to select a set of four courses relating to a single topic or theme.  These courses can (and often do) come from courses outside of psychology, as long as they are related to an issue relevant to the field of cognitive science.  As such, the courses in the concentration differ from student to student (see the course catalog for non-exhaustive list of potential courses).  The set of sample concentrations provided here are meant to provide you with a guide to the kinds of courses that can be grouped together to create a concentration, but many different sets of courses are possible.

Cognitive Science Concentration Declaration Sheet


76-385: Introduction to Discourse analysis

80-280: Linguistic Analysis

85-421: Language and Thought

85-354: Language Acquisition in Infancy and Childhood

Artificial Intelligence

15-385: Artificial Intelligence: Computer Vision

10-601: Machine Learning

85-3xx: Learning in Humans and Machines

80-316: Probability and Artificial Intelligence

Cognitive Neuroscience

85-414: Cognitive Neuropsychology

85-423: Cognitive Brain Imaging

03-360: The Biology of the Brain

03-362: Cellular Neuroscience