About the Program
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Cognitive Science is the cross-disciplinary study of the structure and processes of human cognition and their computational simulation or modeling. This interdisciplinary program is designed to give students an understanding of questions dealing with human cognition, such as concept formation, visual perception, the acquisition and processing of natural language, and human reasoning and problem-solving.
The program draws on relevant courses found within the fields of anthropology, biology, computer science, education, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology, as well as specially designed lower and upper division courses in cognitive science.
Declaring the Major
For prerequisites required before declaring the major, please see the Major Requirements tab. Once prerequisites are completed, students may submit the Cognitive Science declaration submission form. Students interested in the major should consult the Cognitive Science website. If students have questions or would like to speak to someone about the major or other academic issue, they should schedule an appointment with the student academic advisor. The Cognitive Science office is located in 140 Stephens Hall.
Students who meet certain requirements apply for admission to the honors program in their senior year. Honors Program Requirements differ based on the term you first attended UC Berkeley after admission
The awarding of honors is contingent upon submission of a thesis of high quality, based upon independent study with a member of the Cognitive Science faculty and marked by satisfactory completion of the required research and writing. Evaluation of the thesis is the responsibility of, first, the faculty supervisor and then of the second reader, both secured by the student. It is the responsibility of the supervisor and the second reader to decide (1) whether the thesis is of honors quality and (2) if of honors quality, which level of honors is to be assigned: Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors. Please see the Cognitive Science program's Honors page for additional details.
In addition to the University, campus, and college requirements listed on the College Requirements tab, students must fulfill the following requirements specific to their major program.
- All courses taken to fulfill major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
- A lower division requirement may be repeated one time only with the repeated grade being final. For all other groups, students may repeat courses one time only with the repeated grade being final.
- All students must complete at least 26 upper division units.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in all upper division courses used by the major.
- No more than two upper division courses may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements in a double major. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's minor program, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
- Please note that COG SCI 197, COG SCI 199, COG SCI H195A, and COG SCI H195B may not be used to fulfill upper division requirements.
For information regarding all requirements outside the major, including breadth requirements, residence requirements and unit requirements, please see the College Requirements tab.
Students admitted to Berkeley Spring 2015 and earlier should review requirements in the Berkeley Academic Guide archive.
Summary of Major Requirements
|Lower division prerequisites: three courses||10-12|
|Additional lower division requirements: three courses||10-11|
|Upper division distribution requirements: six courses||18-24|
|Upper division electives: three courses||9-12|
Lower Division Prerequisites
|MATH 1A||Calculus (preferred)||3-4|
|or MATH 10A||Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics|
|or MATH 16A||Analytic Geometry and Calculus|
|COMPSCI/STAT C8||Foundations of Data Science||4|
|COMPSCI 61A||The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs||4|
|or ENGIN 7||Introduction to Computer Programming for Scientists and Engineers|
Lower Division Requirements
|COG SCI 1||Introduction to Cognitive Science||4|
|MCELLBI C61||Brain, Mind, and Behavior (Psych 110 can also fulfill this requirement)||3|
|or MCELLBI C64||Exploring the Brain: Introduction to Neuroscience|
|MATH 55||Discrete Mathematics||4|
|or COMPSCI 70||Discrete Mathematics and Probability Theory|
Upper Division Distribution Requirements
Select one course from each of the following six areas. Courses that are listed within more than one area of concentration can be counted toward only one requirement.
|ANTHRO 107||Evolution of the Human Brain||4|
|COG SCI/PSYCH C127||Cognitive Neuroscience||3|
|PSYCH 117||Human Neuropsychology||3|
|PSYCH 133||Psychology of Sleep||3|
|PSYCH 114||Biology of Learning||3|
|COG SCI 170||Brain Damage||3|
|COG SCI 171||Genetic Factors in Neuropsychology||3|
|COG SCI 172||Clinical Applications in Cognitive Neuroscience||3|
|COG SCI C100/PSYCH C120||Basic Issues in Cognition||3|
|COG SCI C102/PSYCH C129||Scientific Approaches to Consciousness||3|
|COG SCI/PSYCH C126||Perception||3|
|COG SCI 181||The Cognitive Unconscious||3|
|COG SCI 182||The Cognitive Psychology of Concept and Idea Formation||3|
|LINGUIS C146/PSYCH C143||Language Acquisition||3|
|PSYCH 164||Social Cognition||3|
|PSYCH 140||Developmental Psychology||3|
|PSYCH 147||Methods in Cognitive Development||3|
|COG SCI 131||Computational Models of Cognition||4|
|COMPSCI 188||Introduction to Artificial Intelligence||4|
|COG SCI C101/LINGUIS C105||Cognitive Linguistics||4|
|COG SCI/LINGUIS C142||Language and Thought||3|
|LINGUIS 100||Introduction to Linguistic Science||4|
|PHILOS 3||The Nature of Mind||4|
|PHILOS 12A||Introduction to Logic||4|
|PHILOS 25A||Ancient Philosophy||4|
|PHILOS 25B||Modern Philosophy||4|
|CLASSIC 36||Course Not Available||4|
|PHILOS 122||Theory of Knowledge||4|
|PHILOS 132||Philosophy of Mind||4|
|PHILOS 133||Philosophy of Language||4|
|PHILOS 135||Theory of Meaning||4|
|PHILOS 136||Philosophy of Perception||4|
|COG SCI 180||Mind, Brain, and Identity||3|
|Society, Culture, and Cognition|
|ANTHRO 166||Language, Culture, and Society||4|
|INFO 103||History of Information||4|
|ECON 119||Psychology and Economics||4|
|EDUC 140AC/W140/W140A||The Art of Making Meaning: Educational Perspectives on Literacy and Learning in a Global World||4|
|PSYCH 160||Social Psychology||3|
|PSYCH 164||Social Cognition||3|
|PSYCH 166AC||Cultural Psychology||3|
|SOCIOL 150||Social Psychology||4|
|COG SCI 181||The Cognitive Unconscious||3|
Upper Division Electives
In addition to completing the six distribution groups, students must complete at least three additional elective courses. Please submit an elective petition form if you want to ask for a course not listed below to count as an elective for the major. The course must have an explicit connection to the study of the mind.
Select three courses from the following list:
|ANTHRO 149||Psychological Anthropology||4|
|ANTHRO 160AC||Forms of Folklore||4|
|COG SCI C140/LINGUIS C160||Quantitative Methods in Linguistics||4|
|COMPSCI 160||User Interface Design and Development||4|
|COMPSCI 170||Efficient Algorithms and Intractable Problems||4|
|COMPSCI 186||Introduction to Database Systems||4|
|COMPSCI/VIS SCI C280||Computer Vision||3|
|COMPSCI 287||Advanced Robotics||3|
|COMPSCI 288||Natural Language Processing||4|
|EDUC 224A||Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving||3|
|EDUC C229A/PSYCH C223||Proseminar: Problem Solving and Understanding||3|
|LINGUIS 121||Formal Semantics||4|
|LINGUIS 125||Gesture, Cognition, and Culture||3|
|LINGUIS 130||Comparative and Historical Linguistics||4|
|LINGUIS/SLAVIC C139||Language Spread||3|
|LINGUIS 151||Language and Gender||3|
|LINGUIS 158||Computational Methods||3|
|LINGUIS 170||History, Structure, and Sociolinguistics of a Particular Language||3|
|LINGUIS 181||Lexical Semantics||3|
|MCELLBI 160||Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology||4|
|MCELLBI 160L||Neurobiology Laboratory||4|
|MCELLBI 161||Circuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience||4|
|MCELLBI 165||Neurobiology of Disease||3|
|MCELLBI 166||Biophysical Neurobiology||3|
|MEDIAST 101||Visual Culture||4|
|MUSIC 108/108M||Music Perception and Cognition||4|
|MEDIAST 111B||Text and Data Media History||4|
|MEDIAST 111||Media History||4|
|MEDIAST 112||Media Theories and Processes||4|
|MEDIAST 113||Media and Democracy||4|
|MUSIC 109/109M||Music Cognition: The Mind Behind the Musical Ear||3|
|NATAMST 151||Native American Philosophy||4|
|PHILOS 128||Philosophy of Science||4|
|PHILOS 138||Philosophy of Society||4|
|PHILOS 140A||Intermediate Logic||4|
|PHILOS 140B||Intermediate Logic||4|
|PHILOS 186B||Later Wittgenstein||4|
|POL SCI 161||Public Opinion, Voting and Participation||4|
|POL SCI 164A||Political Psychology and Involvement||4|
|PSYCH 114||Biology of Learning||3|
|PSYCH 121||Animal Cognition||3|
|PSYCH 125||The Developing Brain||3|
|PSYCH 167AC||Stigma and Prejudice||3|
|RHETOR 103A||Approaches and Paradigms in the History of Rhetorical Theory||4|
|RHETOR 103B||Approaches and Paradigms in the History of Rhetorical Theory II||4|
|RHETOR 110||Advanced Argumentative Writing||4|
|RHETOR 170||Rhetoric of Social Science||4|
|VIS SCI 265||Neural Computation||3|
Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.
For detailed lists of courses that fulfill college requirements, please review the College of Letters & Sciences page in this Guide. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages.
University of California Requirements
All students who will enter the University of California as freshmen must demonstrate their command of the English language by fulfilling the Entry Level Writing requirement. Fulfillment of this requirement is also a prerequisite to enrollment in all reading and composition courses at UC Berkeley.
The American History and Institutions requirements are based on the principle that a US resident graduated from an American university, should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.
Berkeley Campus Requirement
All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this course in order to graduate. The requirement offers an exciting intellectual environment centered on the study of race, ethnicity and culture of the United States. AC courses offer students opportunities to be part of research-led, highly accomplished teaching environments, grappling with the complexity of American Culture.
College of Letters & Science Essential Skills Requirements
The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course.
The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating proficiency in reading comprehension, writing, and conversation in a foreign language equivalent to the second semester college level, either by passing an exam or by completing approved course work.
In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses by the end of their second semester and a second-level course by the end of their fourth semester.
College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements
The undergraduate breadth requirements provide Berkeley students with a rich and varied educational experience outside of their major program. As the foundation of a liberal arts education, breadth courses give students a view into the intellectual life of the University while introducing them to a multitude of perspectives and approaches to research and scholarship. Engaging students in new disciplines and with peers from other majors, the breadth experience strengthens interdisciplinary connections and context that prepares Berkeley graduates to understand and solve the complex issues of their day.
120 total units
Of the 120 units, 36 must be upper division units
- Of the 36 upper division units, 6 must be taken in courses offered outside your major department
For units to be considered in "residence," you must be registered in courses on the Berkeley campus as a student in the College of Letters & Science. Most students automatically fulfill the residence requirement by attending classes here for four years. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you go abroad for a semester or year or want to take courses at another institution or through UC Extension during your senior year. In these cases, you should make an appointment to meet an adviser to determine how you can meet the Senior Residence Requirement.
Note: Courses taken through UC Extension do not count toward residence.
Senior Residence Requirement
After you become a senior (with 90 semester units earned toward your BA degree), you must complete at least 24 of the remaining 30 units in residence in at least two semesters. To count as residence, a semester must consist of at least 6 passed units. Intercampus Visitor, EAP, and UC Berkeley-Washington Program (UCDC) units are excluded.
You may use a Berkeley Summer Session to satisfy one semester of the Senior Residence requirement, provided that you successfully complete 6 units of course work in the Summer Session and that you have been enrolled previously in the college.
Modified Senior Residence Requirement
Participants in the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP), Berkeley Summer Abroad, or the UC Berkeley Washington Program (UCDC) may meet a Modified Senior Residence requirement by completing 24 (excluding EAP) of their final 60 semester units in residence. At least 12 of these 24 units must be completed after you have completed 90 units.
Upper Division Residence Requirement
You must complete in residence a minimum of 18 units of upper division courses (excluding UCEAP units), 12 of which must satisfy the requirements for your major.
Student Learning Goals
Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry that is concerned with the acquisition, representation, and use of knowledge by individual minds, brains, and machines, as well as groups, institutions, and other social entities. Because the fundamental purpose of the University, as a social institution, is the preservation, generation, and transmission of knowledge, cognitive science speaks to the heart of the University's mission. By engaging faculty from psychology, philosophy, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, and anthropology, sociology, and other social sciences in common purpose, cognitive science constitutes a microcosm of the University as a whole. Berkeley's Cognitive Science Program is almost unique in terms of the scope of our approach to the field.
Cognitive Science major students are expected to approach problems of knowledge using the tools of several different disciplines: philosophy, psychology, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, and various social sciences. This expectation is reflected in a demanding curriculum that moves from a broad introductory survey course (COG SCI 1), to a six-course distribution requirement covering the philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, linguistics, computational modeling and artificial intelligence, neuroscience, and various social sciences. After fulfilling their distribution requirement, students have the opportunity to concentrate further study in one of these six fields, and to complete an honors thesis.
Learning Goals for the Major
By the end of their undergraduate careers, cognitive science majors are expected to understand and critically evaluate:
- Research and theory in cognitive psychology, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, judgment, and decision-making.
- Research and theory in linguistics, with special attention to the relation between language and thought.
- Various approaches to artificial intelligence, and the computational modeling of cognitive processes.
- The biological bases of cognitive functions, as uncovered by cognitive neuroscience.
- Classic and contemporary work on the philosophy of mind, including the mind-body problem, mental causation, freedom of the will, and the nature of consciousness.
- The sociocultural context of individual cognition, including the social construction and organization of knowledge, cultural differences in cognition, the history of information, etc.
We also expect that students will have acquired the following skills for lifelong learning and effective citizenship:
- Formulating a well-organized argument supported by evidence.
- Effectively written, spoken, and graphical communication.
- Problem-solving in cognitive science and its constituent fields.
- Applying critical thinking skills in new and complex situations.
- Using probability and statistics in reasoning.
- Understanding the social implications of theory and research in cognitive science for responsible professional, civic, and ethical behavior.
Major Maps help undergraduate students discover academic, co-curricular, and discovery opportunities at UC Berkeley based on intended major or field of interest. Developed by the Division of Undergraduate Education in collaboration with academic departments, these experience maps will help you:
Explore your major and gain a better understanding of your field of study
Connect with people and programs that inspire and sustain your creativity, drive, curiosity and success
Discover opportunities for independent inquiry, enterprise, and creative expression
Engage locally and globally to broaden your perspectives and change the world
Reflect on your academic career and prepare for life after Berkeley
Use the major map below as a guide to planning your undergraduate journey and designing your own unique Berkeley experience.
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Dor Abrahamson, Associate Professor. Mathematical cognition, design-based research, mixed-media design for mathematics learning environments, embodied interaction.
Martin S. Banks, Professor. Stereopsis, virtual reality, optometry, multisensory interactions, self-motion perception, vision, depth perception, displays, picture perception, visual ergonomics.
Sonia Bishop, Assistant Professor. Neural mechanisms supporting attention, emotion and their interactions; individual differences in cognitive control and emotional responsivity; neural substrate of anxiety; genetic factors modulating recruitment of cortical control and limbic affective mechanisms.
Roy L. Caldwell, Professor. Ecology, evolution, Invertebrates, animal behavior, behavioral ecology, marine biology, stomatopods, crustaceans, cephalopods, octopus, mating systems, communication, sensory ecology, aggressive behavior, coral reef restoration.
John Joseph Campbell, Professor. Theory of meaning, philosophy of mind, causation in psychology.
Jose M. Carmena, Professor. Brain-machine interfaces, neural ensemble computation, neuroprosthetics, sensorimotor learning and control.
Melinda Chen, Associate Professor.
Clayton Critcher, Assistant Professor. Judgment and decision making, consumer experience, the self, moral psychology, social cognition.
Mark T. D'Esposito, Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, psychology, working memory, frontal lobe function, functional MRI, neurology, brain imaging, dopamine.
Terrence W. Deacon, Professor. Neuroscience, anthropology, cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary biology, neurobiology, semiotics, primates, linguistic theory.
Michael Deweese, Assistant Professor. Machine learning, computation, systems neuroscience, auditory cortex, neural coding.
Susanne Gahl, Associate Professor. Linguistics, psycholinguistics, linguistic structure, language production, aphasia and related language disorders.
Robert J. Glushko, Adjunct Professor.
Alison Gopnik, Professor. Learning, philosophy, psychology, cognitive development, theory of mind, young children, children's causal knowledge, Bayes Net formalism.
William F. Hanks, Professor. Social and cultural anthropology, linguistics, shamanism, language, Yucatan Mexico, Maya culture.
Rich Ivry, Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, behavior, cognition, brain, attention, coordination, psychology, motor and perceptual processes in normal and neurologically impaired populations, temporal processing, executive control.
Lucia F. Jacobs, Professor. Cognitive and brain evolution, adaptive patterns in spatial memory, spatial navigation, cognitive sex differences and decision making.
John F. Kihlstrom, Professor. Personality, behavior, memory, psychology, cognition in personal, social contexts, unconscious mental processes, hypnosis, social cognition, experimental psychopathology, health cognition, unconscious mental life.
Daniel Klein, Professor. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics, Machine Learning.
Robert Thomas Knight, Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, language, physiology, memory, attention, psychology, working memory, neuropsychology, human prefrontal cortex, neural mechanisms of cognitive processing, sensory gating, sustained attention, ad novelty detection.
Paul Li, Adjunct Professor.
Jitendra Malik, Professor. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Biosystems & Computational Biology (BIO), Control, Intelligent Systems, and Robotics (CIR), Graphics (GR), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Signal Processing (SP),.
Sam A. Mchombo, Associate Professor. African languages, linguistics, political development, sports and politics, national identity, globalization .
Srini NarayananArtificial intelligence, cognitive science, socially relevant computing, web semantics, cognitive and neural computation, learning and control in complex systems .
Alva Noe, Professor. Cognitive science, phenomenology, consciousness, philosophy, theory of perception, theory of art, Wittgenstein, analytic philosophy origins.
Bruno Olshausen, Professor. Visual perception, computational neuroscience, computational vision.
Michael Andrew Ranney, Professor. Reasoning, learning, cognitive science and society.
Terry Regier, Professor. Computational methods, language and thought, semantic universals.
Richard Rhodes, Associate Professor. American Indian languages, lexical semantics, lexicography, Algonquian languages, Ojibwe, Mixe-Zoquean languages, mixed languages, Michif, Sayula Popoluca.
Stuart Russell, Professor. Artificial intelligence, computational biology, algorithms, machine learning, real-time decision-making, probabilistic reasoning.
Geoffrey B. Saxe, Professor. U S , developmental psychology, interplay between culture and cognitive development, mathematical cognition in children, Papua New Guinea, urban and rural areas of Northeastern Brazil, elementary school classrooms, cognitive development, mathematics education.
Alan H. Schoenfeld, Professor. Thinking, teaching, learning, productive learning environments, mathematics education, modeling the process of teaching, understanding how and why teachers do what they do.
+ John R. Searle, Professor . Philosophy, problems of mind and language.
Arthur P. Shimamura, Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, behavior, cognition, brain, psychology, frontal lobe function, basic memory research.
Mahesh Srinivasan, Assistant Professor. Development, Language development, cognition.
Eve E. Sweetser, Professor. Subjectivity, syntax, semantics, cognitive linguistics, historical linguistics, Celtic languages, speech act theory, semantic change, grammaticalization, gesture, metaphor, iconicity, viewpoint, construction grammar, semantics of grammatical constructions.
David Whitney, Professor. Cognitive neuroscience, cognition, attention, visual perception, vision, visually guided action.
Fei Xu, Professor. Conceptual development, developmental psychology, cognitive development, language development, social cognition in infants and children, learning in infants and young children, statistical learning and statistical inference, psychology and philosophy, computational models of cognitive development.
David E. Presti, Senior Lecturer SOE.
Andrea A. diSessa, Professor Emeritus. Physics and computation cognition.
Susan M. Ervin-Tripp, Professor Emeritus. Sociolinguistics, psychologist, pragmatics, child language, bilingualism .
Jerome A. Feldman, Professor Emeritus. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Biosystems & Computational Biology (BIO), Security (SEC), cognitive science.
Charles Fillmore, Professor Emeritus.
Ervin R. Hafter, Professor Emeritus.
Paul Kay, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, pragmatics, syntax, semantics, lexicon, grammar, color naming, lexical semantics, grammatical variation, cross-language color naming, the encoding of contextual relations in rules of grammar.
George P. Lakoff, Professor Emeritus. Mathematics, literature, philosophy, cognitive linguistics, the neural theory of language, conceptual systems, conceptual metaphor, syntax-semantics-pragmatics, the application of cognitive linguistics to politics.
John J. Ohala, Professor Emeritus. Linguistics, experimental phonology, phonetics, historical phonology, ethological aspects of communication, speech technology, automatic recognition of speech, diverse behavioral phenomena.
Stephen E. Palmer, Professor Emeritus. Psychology, visual perception, visual processing.
Kaiping Peng, Professor Emeritus. Psychology, East Asian studies, social cultural sychology, reasoning and judgment across cultures and domains, inter-ethnic, racial relations, cross-cultural communication and understanding.
William Prinzmetal, Adjunct Professor Emeritus. Behavior, cognition, brain, attention, psychology, visual perception.
Lynn C. Robertson, Professor Emeritus. Cognitive neuroscience, attention, psychology, representations of objects and space, visual search, binding mechanisms, perceptual organization in normal and neurological populations, functional hemisphere asymmetries, spatial deficits.
Eleanor Rosch, Professor Emeritus. Cognition, psychology, concepts, Eastern psychologies, psychologies of religion, cross cultural, causality.
Dan I. Slobin, Professor Emeritus. Sociolinguistics, behavior, cognition, brain, psycholinguistics, psychology, language and cognitive development, sign language, cross-cultural.
Lotfi A. Zadeh, Professor Emeritus. Artificial intelligence, linguistics, control theory, logic, fuzzy sets, decision analysis, expert systems neural networks, soft computing, computing with words, computational theory of perceptions and precisiated natural language.
Cognitive Science Program
140 Stephens Hall
Professor and Program Director
David Whitney (he/him)
Student Services Lead
MacKenzie Moore, PhD (she/her)
140 Stephens Hall
Student Academic Advisor
Catherine Byrne, MA (she/her)
140 Stephens Hall
Student Services Advisor
Sofia Vita-Casquejo, MA (they/them)
140 Stephens Hall