Requirements of the Minor

The minor in Cognitive Science normally requires that you have a major or minor (planned or declared) in one of the participating disciplines: Biology, Computer Science, Linguistics (including specialists in linguistics from the foreign language departments), Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics and Psychology. Students undertaking other majors may seek permission to take the minor by contacting the Director of Cognitive Science.

To complete the minor, students must earn a minimum of 18 credits distributed as follows:

6 credits for the two core Cognitive Science courses:

Introduction to Cognitive Science (ICOS-201, fall)
Research Modules in Cognitive Science (ICOS-202, spring)

12 credits consisting of four designated distribution courses in at least two of the participating disciplines outside of your major (see list of participating departments and restrictions on courses designated as fulfilling the distribution requirement below).

Note: Effective Fall 2023, all main campus courses have been renumbered using a new 4-digit numbering system.


The Distribution Requirement

The purpose of the distribution requirement is to give the student a broad background in Cognitive Science. This is why students are required to take at least one designated course in each of two departments outside of their major field (for list of participating departments see above).

For the purpose of the distribution requirement, Cognitive Science (ICOS) counts as a department. Therefore, if the student takes a course offered (or cross listed) by Cognitive Science—other than the two core required courses (ICOS-201, 202)—this counts as one of the two departments outside the student’s major. In addition, it is possible for a course taken in the student’s major department to count toward fulfilling the Cognitive Science minor if, and only if (1) that course is not counting toward the major for that student, and (2) the student has taken at least one designated course in two different departments other than the major.

The Cognitive Science Senior Thesis Option (ICOS-391, 392)

Students who are not doing a thesis for their major are encouraged to exercise the Cognitive Science Senior Thesis option. They should enroll for the Senior Thesis in Cognitive Science (ICOS-391, 392), for a minimum of four credits distributed across the two semesters. The number of credits and their distribution across semesters must be approved by the thesis mentor. Regardless of the number of credits, the senior thesis substitutes for one of the four distribution courses. Thus, students undertaking a thesis in Cognitive Science need take only 3, instead of 4, designated distribution courses.

A list of faculty in Cognitive Science, including the areas in which they are prepared to mentor theses, is available on the Cognitive Science website. Students are also encouraged to seek suggestions from the Director. Students considering the thesis option should identify a senior thesis mentor as early as possible, preferably no later than the beginning of their senior year, and they should plan to work on the thesis throughout the year.

Theses in some disciplines might require preparatory work during the junior year, which can be started within the context of a Cognitive Science tutorial (ICOS-301, 302). All students undertaking a Cognitive Science thesis should notify the Director at the beginning of the senior year, at the latest. The student must submit an abstract outlining the proposed thesis to the Director no later than October 15th of the senior year. This abstract must be signed by the faculty mentor, thereby indicating the mentor’s approval of the abstract, and the mentor’s willingness to advise and grade the thesis. The deadline for submitting the final draft of the thesis to the mentor is the final day of classes in the spring semester. Upon completion of the thesis, the student must submit the thesis title, an abstract outlining the completed work, and an electronic version of the thesis to the Director. Usually, the format of the thesis (e.g., the form for references) will be dictated by the customs of the discipline in which the thesis mentor works.

Students who will be undertaking a thesis to fulfill the requirements of their major are encouraged, but not required, to conduct the thesis in an area related to cognitive science. However, they should not enroll for any thesis credits other than those required for the major.

Courses Designated as Fulfilling the Distribution Requirement

To meet the Distribution Requirement, courses must substantively participate in cognitive science inquiry. Owing to term-to-term changes in course offerings, we do not provide a comprehensive list of approved courses. The table below provides general guidance about where to find appropriate courses. The Director is the final arbiter of which courses satisfy the Requirement and he or she must approve courses as such.


BIOL-103/104: Introductory Biology (for non-biology majors, the 2-course sequence may count as one course toward the distribution requirement)


Any courses at the 100 level or above are acceptable

Cognitive Science
All ICOS courses.

Computer Science
Any courses at the 100 level or above are acceptable, or:

COSC-010, COSC-015, COSC-016, COSC-051, COSC-052

Any courses at the 100 level or above are acceptable, or:

LING-001: Introduction to Language (provided a higher level linguistics course is also completed)

Any courses at the 200 level or above are acceptable. Consult with Professor Kainen for advice on choosing courses to fit your background and goals.

Any courses at the 100 level or above are acceptable.

Any courses at the 100 level or above are acceptable.

Any courses at the 100 level or above are acceptable, or:

PSYC-002: Research Methods and Statistics