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

Many of the department's faculty members participate in groundbreaking research in the cognitive science field. There are many opportunities for undergraduate 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 should take as many as possible of the lower-division requirements before transferring to UC Santa Cruz:

  • Psychology 2, Introduction to Psychological Statistics (or equivalent);
  • Psychology 20, Introduction to Cognitive Psychology (or equivalent);
  • Calculus (one of AMS 11A, MATH 11A, 19A or 20A) (or equivalent); and
  • Computer Programming (one of CMPE 13/L, CMPS 5C, 5J, 5P, 12A) (or equivalent).


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.


Students can complete Cognitive Science major requirements while abroad. The department encourages students to participate in EAP, as learning in a different context helps provide a wider understanding of cognitive science concepts.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information

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