Cognitive Science

University of California, Berkeley

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 a Cognitive Science academic advisor.  The Cognitive Science office is located in 101 Stephens Hall.

Honors Program

 Please see the Cognitive Science program's Honors page for additional details.

Visit Program Website

Major Requirements

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.

General Guidelines

  1. All courses taken to fulfill major requirements must be taken for a letter grade. Each lower division prerequisite must be completed with a grade of C- or better. 
  2. 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.
  3. All students must complete at least 26 upper division units.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in all upper division courses used by the major.
  5. 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.
  6. Please note that COG SCI 197COG SCI 199, COG SCI H195,  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 courses10-12
Additional lower division requirements: three courses10-11
Upper division distribution requirements: six courses18-24
Upper division electives: three courses9-12
Total Units47-59

Lower Division Prerequisites

MATH 1ACalculus (preferred)3-4
or MATH 10A Methods of Mathematics: Calculus, Statistics, and Combinatorics
or MATH 16A Analytic Geometry and Calculus
COMPSCI/STAT C8Foundations of Data Science4
or STAT 20 Introduction to Probability and Statistics
or STAT 2 Introduction to Statistics
COMPSCI 61AThe Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs3-4
or ENGIN 7 Introduction to Computer Programming for Scientists and Engineers
or COMPSCI C88C Computational Structures in Data Science

Lower Division Requirements

COG SCI 1Introduction to Cognitive Science4
or COG SCI 1B Introduction to Cognitive Science
or COG SCI N1 Introduction to Cognitive Science
MATH 55Discrete Mathematics4
or COMPSCI 70 Discrete Mathematics and Probability Theory
PSYCH C61Brain, Mind, and Behavior3
or PSYCH C64 Exploring the Brain: Introduction to Neuroscience
or PSYCH 110 Introduction to Biological Psychology

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.

Cognitive Neuroscience
ANTHRO 107Evolution of the Human Brain4
COG SCI/PSYCH C127Cognitive Neuroscience3
COG SCI 132Rhythms of the Brain: from Neuronal Communication to Function4
PSYCH 117Human Neuropsychology3
PSYCH 133Psychology of Sleep3
PSYCH 114Biology of Learning3
COG SCI C126Perception3
COG SCI 170Brain Damage3
COG SCI 171Genetic Factors in Neuropsychology3
COG SCI 172Clinical Applications in Cognitive Neuroscience3
Cognitive Psychology
COG SCI C100/PSYCH C120Basic Issues in Cognition3
COG SCI/PSYCH C126Perception3
COG SCI 115Neuropsychology of Happiness3
COG SCI 181The Cognitive Unconscious3
COG SCI 182The Cognitive Psychology of Concept and Idea Formation3
LINGUIS C146/PSYCH C143Language Acquisition3
PSYCH 125The Developing Brain3
PSYCH 164Social Cognition3
PSYCH 140Developmental Psychology3
PSYCH 147Methods in Cognitive Development3
Computational Modeling
COG SCI 131Computational Models of Cognition4
COG SCI 132Rhythms of the Brain: from Neuronal Communication to Function4
COMPSCI 188Introduction to Artificial Intelligence4
COG SCI C101/LINGUIS C105Cognitive Linguistics4
COG SCI/LINGUIS C142Language and Thought3
COG SCI 144Cognitive Science of Language3
LINGUIS 100Introduction to Linguistic Science4
LINGUIS 108Psycholinguistics3
AGRS 36Greek Philosophy4
COG SCI 180Mind, Brain, and Identity3
PHILOS 3The Nature of Mind4
PHILOS 12AIntroduction to Logic4
PHILOS 25AAncient Philosophy4
PHILOS 25BModern Philosophy4
PHILOS 122Theory of Knowledge4
PHILOS 132Philosophy of Mind4
PHILOS 133Philosophy of Language4
PHILOS 135Theory of Meaning4
PHILOS 136Philosophy of Perception4
Society, Culture, and Cognition
AFRICAM 115Language and Social Issues in Africa3
ANTHRO 149Psychological Anthropology4
ANTHRO 166Language, Culture, and Society4
COG SCI 181The Cognitive Unconscious3
INFO 103History of Information4
ECON 119Psychology and Economics4
EDUC 130Knowing and Learning in Mathematics and Science3
EDUC 132Language Learning in Chicanx/Latinx Communities4
EDUC 140AC/W140/W140AThe Art of Making Meaning: Educational Perspectives on Literacy and Learning in a Global World4
LINGUIS 109Bilingualism3
LINGUIS 150Sociolinguistics3
PSYCH 163Development of Prejudice and Bias3
PSYCH 160Social Psychology3
PSYCH 164Social Cognition3
PSYCH 166ACCultural Psychology3
SOCIOL 150Social Psychology4

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:

AFRICAM C134Information Technology and Society4
ART 178Advanced Digital Media: Game Design Methods4
ANTHRO 160ACForms of Folklore4
COG SCI C140/LINGUIS C160Quantitative Methods in Linguistics4
COMPSCI 160User Interface Design and Development4
COMPSCI 170Efficient Algorithms and Intractable Problems4
COMPSCI 186Introduction to Database Systems4
COMPSCI/VIS SCI C280Computer Vision3
COMPSCI 287Advanced Robotics3
COMPSCI 288Natural Language Processing4
EDUC 224AMathematical Thinking and Problem Solving3
EDUC C229A/PSYCH C223Proseminar: Problem Solving and Understanding3
LINGUIS 106Metaphor4
LINGUIS 110Phonetics4
LINGUIS 115Morphology4
LINGUIS 120Syntax4
LINGUIS 121Formal Semantics4
LINGUIS 123Pragmatics3
LINGUIS 125Gesture, Cognition, and Culture3
LINGUIS 130Comparative and Historical Linguistics4
LINGUIS/SLAVIC C139Language Spread3
LINGUIS 151Language and Gender3
LINGUIS 158Computational Methods3
LINGUIS 170History, Structure, and Sociolinguistics of a Particular Language3
LINGUIS 181Lexical Semantics3
MCELLBI 160Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology4
MCELLBI 160LNeurobiology Laboratory4
MCELLBI 166Biophysical Neurobiology3
MEDIAST 101Visual Culture4
MEDIAST 111BText and Data Media History4
MEDIAST 111Media History4
MEDIAST 112Media Theories and Processes4
MEDIAST 113Media and Democracy4
MUSIC 108/108MMusic Perception and Cognition4
MUSIC 109/109MMusic Cognition: The Mind Behind the Musical Ear3
NATAMST 151Native American Philosophy4
PHILOS 128Philosophy of Science4
PHILOS 138Philosophy of Society4
PHILOS 140AIntermediate Logic4
PHILOS 140BIntermediate Logic4
PHILOS 176Hume4
PHILOS 178Kant4
PHILOS 185Heidegger4
PHILOS 186BLater Wittgenstein4
PHILOS 188Phenomenology4
POL SCI 161Public Opinion, Voting and Participation4
POL SCI 164APolitical Psychology and Involvement4
PSYCH 114Biology of Learning3
PSYCH 121Animal Cognition3
PSYCH 125The Developing Brain3
PSYCH 167ACStigma and Prejudice3
RHETOR 103AApproaches and Paradigms in the History of Rhetorical Theory4
RHETOR 103BApproaches and Paradigms in the History of Rhetorical Theory II4
RHETOR 110Advanced Argumentative Writing4
RHETOR 170Rhetoric of Social Science4
VIS SCI 265Neural Computation3
ENGLISH 172Literature and Psychology4
ESPM 161Environmental Philosophy and Ethics4
FILM 179Understanding Film Sound4
HISTORY C182CIntroduction to Science, Technology, and Society4
HISTORY C184DHuman Contexts and Ethics of Data - DATA/History/STS4
ISF 100JThe Social Life of Computing4
INFO 159Natural Language Processing4
INFO C265Interface Aesthetics3
INFO 188Behind the Data: Humans and Values3
INTEGBI C143ABiological Clocks: Physiology and Behavior3
LEGALST 181Psychology and the Law4
LEGALST 183Psychology of Diversity and Discrimination in American Law4
LINGUIS 108Psycholinguistics3
LINGUIS 124Discourse3
LINGUIS C160Quantitative Methods in Linguistics4
LINGUIS 187Writing as Framing3
MATH 110Abstract Linear Algebra4
MEDIAST 111Media History4
MEDIAST 111BText and Data Media History4
MEDIAST 111CAudio-Visual Media History4
MEDIAST 112Media Theories and Processes4
PSYCH 156Human Emotion3
PSYCH 124The Evolution of Human Behavior3
PSYCH 137Mind-Body and Health3
PHILOS 110Aesthetics4
PHILOS 125Metaphysics4
PHILOS 128Philosophy of Science4
PHILOS 136Philosophy of Perception4
PHILOS 141Philosophy and Game Theory4
PHILOS 107Moral Psychology4
PHILOS 151Early Chinese Thought4
PHILOS 154Arabic Philosophy4
PHILOS 170Descartes4
PHILOS 186Merleau-Ponty4
MELC 156Sociolinguistics of the Middle East4
NWMEDIA C203Critical Making4
POL SCI C135Game Theory in the Social Sciences4
POL SCI 164APolitical Psychology and Involvement4
PSYCH 101Research and Data Analysis in Psychology4
PSYCH C115CNeuroethology: Complex Animal Behaviors and Brains4
PSYCH 136Human Sexuality3
PSYCH 156Human Emotion3
PSYCH 169Love & Close Relationships3
PSYCH 115Introduction to Brain Imaging Analysis Methods3
SPANISH 100Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics4
SPANISH 166Foreign Language Acquisition and Pedagogy for Spanish Language Instruction4
STAT C140Probability for Data Science4
STAT 134Concepts of Probability4
UGBA 105Leading People3
UGBA 136FBehavioral Finance3
UGBA 143Game Theory and Business Decisions3
UGBA 160Customer Insights3
UGBA 192ACSocial Movements and Social Media3
NEU 100BCircuit, Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience4
NEU 165Neurobiology of Disease3

College Requirements

Undergraduate students must fulfill the following requirements in addition to those required by their major program.

For a detailed lists of L&S requirements, please see Overview tab to the right in this guide or visit the L&S Degree Requirements webpage. For College advising appointments, please visit the L&S Advising Pages. 

University of California Requirements

Entry Level Writing

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 and must be taken for a letter grade. 

American History and American Institutions

The American History and American Institutions requirements are based on the principle that all U.S. residents who have graduated from an American university should have an understanding of the history and governmental institutions of the United States.

Berkeley Campus Requirement

American Cultures

All undergraduate students at Cal need to take and pass this campus requirement 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 are plentiful and 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

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning requirement is designed to ensure that students graduate with basic understanding and competency in math, statistics, or computer/data science. The requirement may be satisfied by exam or by taking an approved course taken for a letter grade.

Foreign Language

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 taken for a letter grade.

Reading and Composition

In order to provide a solid foundation in reading, writing, and critical thinking the College of Letters and Science requires two semesters of lower division work in composition in sequence. Students must complete parts A & B reading and composition courses in sequential order by the end of their fourth semester for a letter grade.

College of Letters & Science 7 Course Breadth Requirements

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.

Unit Requirements

  • 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
Residence Requirements

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 at Cal for four years, or two years for transfer students. In general, there is no need to be concerned about this requirement, unless you graduate early, 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 L&S College 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 B.A. 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:

  1. Research and theory in cognitive psychology, including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, judgment, and decision-making.
  2. Research and theory in linguistics, with special attention to the relation between language and thought.
  3. Various approaches to artificial intelligence, and the computational modeling of cognitive processes.
  4. The biological bases of cognitive functions, as uncovered by cognitive neuroscience.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

  1. Formulating a well-organized argument supported by evidence.
  2. Effectively written, spoken, and graphical communication.
  3. Problem-solving in cognitive science and its constituent fields.
  4. Applying critical thinking skills in new and complex situations.
  5. Using probability and statistics in reasoning.
  6. Understanding the social implications of theory and research in cognitive science for responsible professional, civic, and ethical behavior.

Major Map

Major maps are experience maps that help undergraduates plan their Berkeley journey based on intended major or field of interest. Featuring student opportunities and resources from your college and department as well as across campus, each map includes curated suggestions for planning your studies, engaging outside the classroom, and pursuing your career goals in a timeline format.

Use the major map below to explore potential paths and design your own unique undergraduate experience:

View the Cognitive Science Major Map.


Academic Opportunities

Graduate Study

Berkeley offers a Designated Emphasis in Cognitive Science for graduate students. The cognitive science research community at Berkeley is centered around the Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Students interested in cognitive science graduate study can receive graduate training in programs in affiliated disciplines, e.g., psychologylinguisticsneuroscience.


Students who meet the grade point thresholds overall and in the upper division major courses may apply for admission to the honors program in their senior year. The awarding of honors is contingent upon submission of a thesis of high quality, based upon independent study with an eligible 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.

Student Association

The Cognitive Science Student Association (CSSA) is a great resource for students interested in Cognitive Science. About the CSSA, from their website: The CSSA regularly coordinates academic events such as guest lectures and information sessions; plans social events like professor-student dinners and cog sci themed gatherings; and works with cognitive science faculty and university officials to provide assistance for students. Additionally, the CSSA teaches its own decal on research methodology, has an academic outreach program, and organizes the annual California Cognitive Science Conference.  Click here to visit the CSSA website.


Cognitive Science

Contact Information

Cognitive Science Program

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-642-2628

Visit Program Website

Professor and Program Director

David Whitney (he/him)

Assistant Director, CogSci Student Services

MacKenzie Moore, PhD (she/her)

140 Stephens Hall

Student Academic Advisor

Catherine Byrne, MA (she/her)

140 Stephens Hall

Student Services Advisor

Meagan Mason, MA (she/her)

140 Stephens Hall

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