Cognitive Science Major

The undergraduate degree program in cognitive science is a program offering a course of study leading to the bachelor of science (B.S.) degree. Fifteen courses (75 credits) are required. Because some courses have additional prerequisites, students should read the descriptions of courses carefully, noting the prerequisites for courses of interest to them.

Major Admission Requirements

Students may petition to declare the cognitive science major once they have completed the lower-division requirements. For students to be admitted to the major, they must have a 2.80 or higher cumulative grade-point average (GPA) in the lower-division requirements. Transfer students may substitute equivalent courses from other institutions. Students not meeting the grade requirements in the lower-division courses may take any of the listed alternatives as substitutions; the department will use the highest grade to compute GPA.

Cognitive Science Major Requirements- 2023-24 Catalog

  • All currently declared Cognitive Science students have been moved to the 2022-23 Catalog. Proposed Cognitive Science majors will declare on the 2023-24 Catalog.
The Cognitive Science Major Worksheet and sample Academic Plan are available on the Advising Forms page.
Some major requirements may be satisfied through test scores or transfer credit. See the AP and Transfer Credit page for details.
Some major requirements may be satisifed by courses taken through UCSC Global Learning. See the Global Learning page for details.
Honors in the major are awarded to eligible graduating seniors. See the Honors in the Major page for details.
The 2023-24 UCSC General Catalog can be found here.

 See the Letter Grade and Double-Counting Courses notes below.

Cognitive Science Major Requirements- 2023-24 Catalog

FOUR Lower-Division Courses to Declare the Cognitive Science Major

All courses required to declare the major must be taken for a letter grade. Students must have a GPA of 2.8 or higher in the required courses (use a GPA calculator to determine your eligibility). Follow the instructions to declare the Cognitive Science major on this page.

SEVEN Upper-Division Courses

PSYC 100: Research Methods in Psychology (must be taken at UCSC)

*PSYC 100 is a prerequisite for all other Upper-Division Psychology Courses

THREE Upper-Division Core Cognitive Science Courses:

Choose 3 from the following:

  • Perception (PSYC 120 or 121)
  • Neuroscience (PSYC 123)
  • Language (PSYC 125)
  • Memory (PSYC 129)

THREE Additional Upper-Division Cognitive Science Electives:

Choose 3 from the following:

  • Any of PSYC 120-139 (i.e., the "Cognitive Series"; PSYC 139A-Z courses are Cognitive Area Senior Seminars)
  • PSYC 103: Adult Development and Aging
  • PSYC 104: Development in Infancy
  • PSYC 105: Children's Thinking
  • PSYC 109: Stress And Well-Being Throughout Development (Pending 2024-2025 Catalog)
  • PSYC 112: Moral Development
  • PSYC 116: Communication Tech, Culture, and Human Development
  • PSYC 119A-Z: Developmental Area Senior Seminars
  • PSYC 140F: Mind, Society, and Culture
  • PSYC 147A/LGST 147A: Psychology and Law
  • PSYC 159A-Z: Social Area Senior Seminars
  • PSYC 179A-Z: Clinical/Personality Area Senior Seminars
  • PSYC 181: Psychological Data Analysis
  • PSYC 182: Qualitative Research Methods
ONE of the following can be counted as 1 of the 3 Cognitive Electives:
  • PSYC 193: Field Study
  • PSYC 193I: International Field Study
  • PSYC 194A: Research Internship in Developmental Psychology
  • PSYC 194B: Research Internship in Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 195A: Senior Thesis
  • PSYC 204-252: Graduate Cognitive courses (by petition)

NOTE: One of the above Upper-Division Cognitive Science Electives must also be a senior seminar. Senior Seminars from any Psychology area count as both an elective and a Senior Seminar

FOUR Interdisciplinary Elective Courses

Interdisciplinary Electives 

Students must complete four interdisciplinary electives from a list of courses pre-approved by the Psychology Department. The electives fall into four Emphasis Groups: Evolution; Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction; Linguistics; and Philosophy. Three of the four electives must be selected from the same Emphasis Group. Students are responsible for planning their course of study to complete any necessary prerequisites for electives they wish to take. 

Please take a look at our full list of Interdisciplinary Electives for the 2023-24 Catalog.

NOTE: 8 upper division courses are required for the major. If you do not take 1 Upper-Division Interdisciplinary Elective course, you will need to take an additional Upper-Division Cognitive Science Elective.

Senior Seminar Requirement

Students must take a Senior Seminar at UCSC prior to graduation. The Senior Seminar is the second half of your Disciplinary Communications (DC) requirement. Cognitive Science students must satisfy this requirement by receiving a passing grade in a Senior seminar from any area of Psychology (PSYC 119A-Z, PSYC 139A-Z, PSYC 159A-Z, PSYC 179A-Z). Read more about Senior Seminars.

LETTER GRADE NOTE: Courses graded NP, C-, D or F may NOT be used to satisfy major requirements. Also, please refer to the Major Admission Requirements. Courses indicated as required to complete BEFORE declaring the Cognitive Science major must be taken for a letter grade, and a minimum 2.8 GPA in the declaration courses is required (use a GPA calculator to determine eligibility to declare). All other courses required for the major could be taken Pass/No Pass (review the full policy for other restrictions for the P/NP option here).

DOUBLE-COUNTING COURSES NOTE: A major must have a minimum of 40 upper division credits, and a minor must have a minimum of 25 upper division credits (courses numbered 100-199). The Cognitive Science major requires the minimum number of upper division courses, so approval to double-count one or more courses depends on the number of upper division units required for a student's other major(s) or minor(s). For example, students may double-count their upper division Interdisciplinary Elective course if they confirm with their other major or minor advisor they will be completing at least 45 upper division units (for that major) or 30 upper division units (for that minor).

Check with your major/minor advisors if you want to use one upper division course to satisfy requirements for two majors or both a major & minor, and you are not sure how many upper division credits are required for your major(s)/minor(s). There is no limit to the number of lower-division credits (courses numbered 1-99) that can be shared between majors and minors. Students interested in double-majoring in Cognitive Science and General Psychology must double-count PSYC 100 and the senior seminar, which requires adding 1 additional upper division Psychology course elective to the academic plan to ensure both majors have the minimum number of upper division units (a sample academic plan is available on the Advising Forms page).