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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Cognitive Science?

Cognitive science is a diverse field unifying three broad categories: the brain, behavior and computation. It's the study of how people, animals and computers think, act and learn. In order to understand the mind/brain, cognitive science brings together the methods and discoveries from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and computer science.

UC San Diego has been at the forefront of this exciting field since its beginning. Our Department of Cognitive Science was the first of its kind in the world, and as part of an exceptional scientific community, it remains a dominant influence in the field it helped to create.

What are the course requirements towards a degree in Cognitive Science?

All Cognitive Science majors must complete lower-division courses in neurobiology, calculus, statistics, and computer programming. The B.A. and B.S. degrees require completion of twelve upper-division courses. All majors first complete courses from core sequences in areas like Cognitive Phenomena, Cognitive Neuroscience, Computational Models and Cognitive Engineering. Elective courses fulfill the remaining requirements of each major.

Cognitive Science Major Requirements

How do I declare Cognitive Science as a major?

To declare a Cognitive Science major, go to TritonLink and under “Advising & Grades” select “Major and Minor” then follow the instructions. The major code for a general B.A. or B.S. is CG25.

UC San Diego - Declare or Change Major Information

How can I declare a minor in Cognitive Science or Design?

Go to TritonLink and under “Advising & Grades” select “Major & Minor” then follow the screen instructions.

To receive a minor from the Department of Cognitive Science, a student must complete a total of seven (four-unit) courses; five of which must be upper-division. All courses must be taken for a letter grade and receive at least a C- grade. Only two upper-division courses (8 units) can overlap between major and minor requirements, and they cannot be used to satisfy requirements of more than one minor. 

Cognitive Science or Design Minor Requirements

UC San Diego - Minor Information

How can I declare a double major in Cognitive Science and another department?

You can pick up a double-major petition at your college advising office. You should consult with an academic advisor as well as both department advisors to be sure you fulfill requirements of the college and the major departments.

COVID-19 Update: Please send your Double Major Petition documents first to your primary major advisor for approval, and then to your secondary major advisor for approval before sending it to your college for final approval; all signatures must be on the same documents. For CogSci Department approval, please submit documents to for review.

UC San Diego - Double Major Information

What is an area of specialization?

The Cognitive Science major has optional "areas of specialization" for the B.S. degree only. Students may still major in cognitive science at either the B.A. or B.S. level without a specialization. The additional requirement for the specialization is that at least 4 of 6 electives must be from the list of courses approved for that area. In addition, a Cognitive Science 199 course may be allowed for elective credit within the specialization if the research project was clearly related to one of the specialization areas. The specialization will be listed on the transcript and diploma.

What do computers have to do with Cognitive Science?

Firstly, computers are used to model cognitive phenomena. For example, computers are used to model the activity of a brain, a perceptual process, individual decision making or the interaction of people in a group. Second, cognitive scientists study how people interact with computers and how computers can be designed to be easy to use.

What's the difference between Cognitive Science and Computer Science?

Computer Science deals with solving problems through the use of a computer while Cognitive Science deals with the understanding how the brain works and how behavior is shaped by outside stimuli. To understand the brain, you need to simulate and analyze models of the brain with the help of computers. Cognitive Science encapsulates Computer Science but not the other way around.

What can I do with a degree in Cognitive Science?

Currently, the most frequent job placements for Cognitive Science graduates are in the computer industry in the areas of cognitive engineering (human factors), human-computer interface design, artificial intelligence, neural network applications, and software design and development. There is also a growing demand in the research industry, particularly in biotechnical and pharmaceutical companies, because students also take courses in biology and chemistry.

In addition to preparing students for careers in a variety of sciences, the major also provides an excellent background for many professional fields including medicine, clinical psychology, and design and information technology.

Here is a list of CogSci alumni and their post-grad jobs or studies.

What is a Cognitive Science 199?

A Cognitive Science 199 is an independent study course for advanced students who wish to complete a one-quarter reading or research project under the mentorship of a faculty member. Students should contact faculty whose research interests them to discuss possible projects or visit the Research Experience & Applied Learning (REAL) portal for campus-wide listings.

Can I take my major/minor courses P/NP in Spring 2020?

Typically, all courses taken for credit toward the Cognitive Science major or minor must be taken for a Letter Grade, with the exception of one COGS 19X course for majors.
While we will allow students in our majors and minors to take courses for their requirements P/NP in Spring 2020 ONLY, we encourage students to heavily consider taking major classes with a Letter Grade.
  • You may additionally want to reach out to Financial Aid, ISPO, Career Services Center/Pre-Med Advising, your college, and any other department that is relevant to this course based on your potential statuses and what requirements you may be using this course towards.
  • You also may need to submit more EASy requests in the future if the courses you take are prerequisites, as sometimes the system will not recognize the P grade as adequate, such as for the MATH series.
The opportunity to change your grading option through Week 11 is designed to give students time to determine which grading scheme will best suit their needs both now and for the future.
  • It is not possible to know as yet how P/NP grade choices may affect third-party (e.g., graduate school admissions committees) evaluations of UCSD transcripts at a later time; they may ultimately read a B or higher Letter Grade as better performance than a P grade under P/NP grading.
  • Usually, a Letter Grade will be a better reflection of your academic history if you plan on pursuing a graduate degree, medical school, etc. than a P grade.
Please utilize our Walk-In Advising hours if you have further questions on this.
For more information from the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, please visit this site.


Kick back and relax while listening to our Cognitive Science advisors share exciting information regarding our program and answer frequently asked questions. Listen to their response to the questions of students who attended the webinar live.


Still need answers? Ask CogSci Academic Advising at or