Program in Cognitive Science


Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of how the mind works, drawing on research from psychology, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, and computer science. The interdisciplinary character of cognitive science is reflected in its reliance on many different levels of analysis of mental phenomena and its employment of a variety of methodologies appropriate to each level. The goal of cognitive science is to integrate the insights from multiple disciplines and modes of research into a unified scientific account of the mind and its place in nature. Research in cognitive science includes, but is not limited to, work on psychophysics, perception, linguistics and language processing, philosophy of mind and language, cognitive development, memory, reasoning, emotion, moral and social cognition, and judgment and decision making. One ambition of cognitive science is to understand just how mental abilities and processes are realized in the brain, and how such neural realizations can ground the conscious, deliberate activity of thought and decision. Another is to map out just how the human mind develops from childhood on, and thereby articulate the deep mechanisms of learning and cognitive development. A third ambition is to investigate just how far mental processes can be duplicated in complex computational structures that could be instantiated in machines.

Admission to the Program

The program is open to Princeton undergraduates concentrating in any department. Students should meet with the director or program manager, usually during sophomore year, to apply to the program and plan a course of study. Applicants will be accepted based on interest and a coherent, tentative academic plan, including independent study. 

Application to Program of Study

(NB: The certificate program is only available to individuals who are currently enrolled as students at Princeton. For more information on applying to Princeton, please visit

Program of Study

Students are required to take five courses in cognitive science, which in combination satisfy the following requirements:

1. Three courses at the 300-level or higher;

2. Courses taken in at least three different academic units (please note that this restriction applies only to a course's primary course listing, not to additional cross-listings);

3. Typically no more than one course with a primary course listing from the student's department of concentration, unless permission is obtained from the director;

4. At least one course that is not counted towards the student's departmental concentration;

5. At most, one course may be taken P/D/F.

Students are also required to complete a thesis or a semester of junior independent work that incorporates substantial elements of cognitive science. This independent work should be interdisciplinary, and it should incorporate methods or ideas from at least one core discipline of cognitive science, such as cognitive psychology, a relevant aspect of philosophy (e.g., mind, language, knowledge, science), a relevant aspect of computer science (e.g., artificial intelligence, natural language processing), cognitive neuroscience, and/or linguistics. However, methods or ideas from other disciplines are also welcome: students can come from disciplines as diverse as music, architecture, comparative literature, and beyond, as long as their independent work incorporates substantial elements of cognitive science as specified above.

Students are encouraged to develop the cognitive science elements of their independent work in consultation with their independent work advisor(s). The work may be used to satisfy both the requirements of the program and the student's department of concentration. Students who are unable to incorporate cognitive science into their departmental independent work should consult the director or program manager to discuss alternative means of satisfying this requirement.

The Program in Cognitive Science sponsors a lunchtime talk series with speakers from the Princeton cognitive science community, as well as from outside Princeton.  Students are strongly encouraged to attend these talks.  If scheduling permits, certificate students who are completing independent work in cognitive science may volunteer to give a talk themselves, in consultation with the director.

Certificate of Proficiency

A student who fulfills the requirements of the program with satisfactory standing receives a certificate of proficiency in cognitive science upon graduation.

Cognitive Science and Related Courses

The following courses will count towards the program requirements. Other cognitive science related courses, including graduate courses, may be counted toward certificate completion with the approval of the director.

Courses (Listed by primary designation)

Cognitive Science
CGS 310 The Philosophy and Science of Consciousness (also PHI 328)
CGS 312 Cognitive Science of Metaethics (also CHV 317/PHI 349)
CGS 316 Philosophy and Psychopathology (also PHI 348)

Computer Science
COS 109 The Computers in Our World (also EGR 109)
COS 126 Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach (also EGR 126)
COS 324 Introduction to Machine Learning
COS 402 Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
COS 424 Fundamentals of Machine Learning (also SML 302)
COS 429 Computer Vision
ECE 433 Introduction to Reinforcement Learning (also COS 435)
COS 484 Natural Language Processing
COS 495 Special Topics in Computer Science - Neural Networks: Theory and Applications

LIN 201 Introduction to Language and Linguistics (also ENG 241/CGS 205)
LIN 205 Beginning American Sign Language (also TRA 205)
LIN 216 Language, Mind, and Brain (also PSY 216)
LIN 219 Writing Systems and Orthographic Processing
LIN 250 Language in Its Contexts
LIN 260 Languages of Africa
LIN 301 Phonetics and Phonology
LIN 302 Syntax
LIN 303 Linguistic Semantics
LIN 306 The Structure and Meaning of Words
LIN 308 Bilingualism (also TRA 303)
LIN 310 Melody in Language
LIN 312 Linguistics of American Sign Language
LIN 314 Linguistics and Language Acquisition (also PSY 302)
LIN 355 Field Methods in Linguistics
LIN 360 Linguistic Universals and Language Diversity
LIN 406 Advanced Morphology
LIN 408 Situated Language Usage: Conversations, Dialogues and other Goal-Based Communications (also PSY 408/CGS 408)
LIN 412 Advanced Syntax

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
MAE 345 Robotics and Intelligent Systems
ENE 475 Human Factors 2.0-Psychology for Engineering, Energy, and Environmental Decisions (also PSY 475)
ECE 364 Machine Learning for Predictive Data Analysis

NEU 175 Introduction to Neuroscience
NEU 200 Functional Neuroanatomy (also PSY 200)
NEU 202 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (also PSY 259)
NEU 202B Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (also PSY 259B)
NEU 314 Mathematical Tools for Neuroscience
NEU 330 Introduction to Connectionist Models: Bridging between Brain and Mind (also PSY 330)
NEU 331 Clinical Neuropsychology
NEU 430 Epigenetics in Neuroscience and Behavior
NEU 437 Computational Neuroscience (also MOL 437/PSY 437)

PHI 207 Introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science (also CGS 207)
PHI 218 Learning Theory and Epistemology (also ELE 218)
PHI 311 Personal Identity
PHI 313 Theory of Knowledge
PHI 315 Philosophy of Mind (also CHV 315/CGS 315)
PHI 317 Philosophy of Language
PHI 322 Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences (also CGS 322)
PHI 352 Philosophy of Bias: Psychology, Epistemology and Ethics of Stereotypes (also CGS 352)
PHI 371 Philosophical Foundations of Probability and Decision Theory
PHI 380 Explaining Values (also CHV 380)
CHV 323 Topics in Neuroethics: Cognitive Enhancements (also PHI 424)
SML 354 Artificial Intelligence: A Hands-on Introduction from Basics to ChatGPT (also PHI 354)

PSY 212 The Psychology of Moral Behavior (also CHV 212)
PSY 237 The Psychology and Philosophy of Rationality (also PHI 237)
PSY 254 Developmental Psychology (also CGS 254)
PSY 255 Cognitive Psychology (also CGS 255)
PSY 260 The Life Cycles of Behavior (also NEU 260)
PSY 304 Social Cognition: The Psychology of Interactive Minds
PSY 306 Memory and Cognition (also NEU 306)
PSY 307 Educational Psychology
PSY 309 Psychology of Language (also LIN 309)
PSY 310 Psychology of Thinking
PSY 311 Rationality and Human Reasoning
PSY 315 Cognitive Science of Human Values
PSY 316 Cognitive Neuroscience of Selective Attention
PSY 337  Neuroscience of Social Cognition and Emotion
PSY 338 Animal Learning and Decision Making (also NEU 338)
PSY 340 Neuroeconomics (also NEU 340)
PSY 345 Sensation and Perception (also NEU 325)
PSY 360 Computational Models of Cognition (also COS 360)
PSY 400 Topics in Social and Personality Psychology - Developmental Origins of Life Outcomes
PSY 409 Cyborg Psychology
PSY 414  From Collective Memory to Collective Violence
PSY 418 Neuroethics (also NEU 418)
PSY 454 Probabilistic Model of Cognition
MUS 248 Music Cognition (also PSY 248)
HUM 230 Music and Language (also CGS 230 / PSY 209 / MUS 229)
HIS 494 Broken Brains, Shattered Minds
FRS 155 The Human Context

Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication
TRA 301 Introduction to Machine Translation (also COS 401/LIN 304)

School of Public and International Affairs
SPI 305 Behavioral Economics
SPI 340 The Psychology of Decision Making and Judgment (also PSY 321)
SPI 404 Psychology of Poverty / Policy Research  
ECO 468 Behavioral Finance