Skip to main content

Graduate Education

Our program provides broad training in neurological processes and phenomena; the experimental methods, results, and theories from the study of psychology, language, and social and cultural issues; and the studies of computational mechanisms. We offer three graduate programs in Cognitive Science: 

Cognitive Science PhD Program

Specialization in Anthropogeny

transdisciplinary graduate specialization in anthropogeny with the aim of providing graduate students the opportunity to specialize in research and education on explaining the origins of the human phenomenon. This specialization is not a stand-alone program but aims at providing graduate students who have just embarked on their graduate careers with the opportunity to interact and communicate with peers in radically different disciplines throughout the duration of their PhD projects. Such communication across disciplines from the outset is key to fostering a capacity for interdisciplinary “language” skills and conceptual flexibility.

Specialization in Computational Social Science

Computational Social Science (CSS) integrates large-scale data analysis with formal, causal models from social science domains, to not only improve predictions but also guide extrapolation and intervention beyond existing data. Students pursuing the specialization will find a clear path to accessing training in computational social science, a formal mechanism for recognizing their efforts, and access to a broad network of relevant scholars.


The graduate specialization in computational social science is only available to students currently enrolled in a PhD program at UC San Diego in the following School of Social Sciences departments: anthropology, communication, cognitive science, economics, education studies, ethnic studies, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology. Doctoral students in these departments may apply for the specialization through the CSS administration, housed in the Department of Psychology, with the endorsement of the student’s primary research adviser and department chair. Students are eligible to join the CSS specialization at any time pre-candidacy; post-candidacy requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require additional justification relating to time to degree.


In addition to the PhD requirements of their home department, admitted students are required to complete the following requirements:

  • Three quarters of CSS 209. Computational Social Science Research Seminar.
  • Three courses from a list of electives, at least one of which must not count toward the home department PhD requirements, with at least one of these electives drawn from the subset of “advanced data” courses.
  • Appointment to the dissertation committee of at least one CSS affiliated faculty member not affiliated with the student’s home department.
  • Satisfactory completion of a dissertation including a technical and/or computational social science component.

Specialization in Human-Centered Design

The graduate specialization is a set of courses students can choose to take that fits into their home degree program requirements. It is analogous to receiving a minor, but at the graduate level. As such, the specialization does not alter home program requirements. Instead, the courses fit into their home program as either electives or as courses that were already part of their core requirements. The graduate specialization is created so that it can be integrated into a one- or two-year master’s program or a PhD program.

All students who seek the specialization are required to take:

DSGN 201 (four units)

DSGN 219 (one unit)

Cognitive science students should take two courses from this list:

COGS 220. Information Visualization

COGS 230. Topics in Human-Computer Interaction

COGS 231. Design Seminar on Human-Centered  Programming

COGS 260. Crowdsourcing

Cognitive science students should take one course to meet the power, privilege, and ethical response requirement, from this list:

FMPH 258C. Ethics in Public Health Research and Practice

FMPH 460. Design and Public Health

COGR 275. Ability/Cultures of Care

COGR 275. Design and Politics

COGR 275. Mediated Ability: Media, Technology, and [Dis]ability

COGR 275. Researching Creative Labor: Media Production Cultures

COMM 275. Advanced Topics in Communication: Designing for Access

COMM 275. Advanced Topics in Communication: Disabling Modernism

All other requirements (e.g., projects such as theses/dissertations, teaching requirements, support) are set in accordance with a student’s home degree program. Just as a minor does not alter a student’s major as an undergraduate, the specialization does not alter any of cognitive science’s home degree program requirements. This specialization is simply a collection of classes that, if taken, represents sufficient training in human-centered design to warrant a specialization designation.

SDSU-UCSD LCD Joint Doctoral Program

San Diego State University (SDSU) and the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego), offer jointly a doctoral program in Language and Communicative Disorders. The program’s focus is the interdisciplinary study of language and communicative disorders. A major emphasis of the program is to apply techniques developed in cognitive science and neuroscience to the study of language and language disorders. The program involves study and research in normal language (including sign languages of the deaf and language impairments), and in the neural bases of language use and language loss.