Cognitive Science


Cognitive science has emerged in the last few decades as a major discipline that promises to be increasingly important in the 21st century. Focused on achieving a scientific understanding of how human cognition works and how cognition is possible, its subject matter encompasses cognitive functions (such as memory and perception), the structure and use of human language, the evolution of the mind, animal cognition, artificial intelligence, and more. The cognitive science degree provides a strong grounding in the principles of cognition through courses in cognitive psychology, and, in addition, provides breadth in the interdisciplinary aspects of cognitive science such as anthropology, linguistics, biology, philosophy, and computer science.

Degrees Offered

  • B.S.

Study and Research Opportunities

Opportunities for research experience in the laboratories of active cognitive science researchers.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

In addition to the courses required for UC admission, high school students considering cognitive science as their university major find that the best preparation is a solid general education in English, mathematics through precalculus or beyond, natural sciences, social sciences, and writing.

Information for Transfers

Students may petition to declare the cognitive science major once they have completed the lower-division requirements. Students admitted to the major must have a 2.80 grade-point average (GPA) in the lower-division requirements, and all requirements to declare must be passed with a C or better and no course taken P/NP. Transfer students may substitute equivalent courses from other institutions.

Additional recommended courses that may be required as prerequisites for upper-division psychology courses: Precalculus, Statistics, and Intro to Psychology. Please see for more information.


The cognitive science major is intended for students wishing to enter doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in cognitive psychology, cognitive science, or cognitive neuroscience to pursue careers in research; enter the field of public health, for example, to work with individuals with neurological disorders and learning disabilities; or to enter the technology-related fields such as human-computer interface design or human factors research; or pursue other related careers.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

Students must complete 10 courses toward the major after completing the lower-division requirements. At least eight of these must be upper-division courses (a minimum of 40 credits). These must include Psychology 100, three upper-division core courses, and three upper-division cognitive psychology electives. Students must also complete four interdisciplinary electives in other departments, which may or may not be upper-division. Students must ensure that one of the interdisciplinary electives is an upper-division course.

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More Information

Psychology Department
273 Social Sciences 2 Building
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-2002