Program in Cognitive Science



  • Tania Lombrozo

Executive Committee

  • Adele E. Goldberg, Psychology
  • Mark Johnston, Philosophy
  • Casey Lew-Williams, Psychology
  • Tania Lombrozo, Psychology
  • Elizabeth H. Margulis, Music
  • Kenneth A. Norman, Psychology
  • Gideon A. Rosen, Philosophy
  • Eldar Shafir, Psychology

Associated Faculty

  • Sanjeev Arora, Computer Science
  • Lara M. Buchak, Philosophy
  • Danqi Chen, Computer Science
  • Jonathan D. Cohen, Psychology
  • Alin I. Coman, Psychology
  • Molly J. Crockett, Psychology
  • Nathaniel D. Daw, Princeton Neuroscience Inst
  • Adam N. Elga, Philosophy
  • Agustin Fuentes, Anthropology
  • Elizabeth Gould, Psychology
  • Tom Griffiths, Psychology
  • Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy
  • Uri Hasson, Psychology
  • Sanjeev R. Kulkarni, Dean of the Faculty
  • Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Computer Science
  • Karthik Narasimhan, Computer Science
  • Yael Niv, Psychology
  • Kristina R. Olson, Psychology
  • Elizabeth L. Paluck, Psychology
  • Carolyn M. Rouse, Anthropology
  • Olga Russakovsky, Computer Science
  • Stacey A. Sinclair, Psychology
  • Una Stojnic, Philosophy
  • Diana I. Tamir, Psychology
  • Samuel S. Wang, Princeton Neuroscience Inst

Sits with Committee

  • Christiane D. Fellbaum
  • Victoria McGeer
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Program Information

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 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.

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 toward the student's departmental concentration;
  5. At most, one course may be taken Pass/D/Fail.

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 adviser(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.

Cognitive Science and Related Courses

These courses will count toward the program requirements. Other cognitive science–related courses, including graduate courses, may be counted toward certificate completion with the approval of 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.




CGS 205 Introduction to Language and Linguistics (See LIN 201)

CGS 207 Introduction to Philosophy of Cognitive Science (See PHI 207)

CGS 230 Music and Language (See HUM 230)

CGS 254 Developmental Psychology (See PSY 254)

CGS 255 Cognitive Psychology (See PSY 255)

CGS 304 Social Cognition: The Psychology of Interactive Minds (See PSY 304)

CGS 310 The Philosophy and Science of Consciousness (also
PHI 328
) Fall EC

This course will introduce students to foundational philosophical issues concerning consciousness and to integrate these with empirical approaches. The course will begin with key philosophical concepts and theories (e.g. functionalism, qualia, access versus phenomenal consciousness). It will then turn to key empirical paradigms and models (e.g. change blindness, blindsight, partial report methods and signal detection theory). Throughout the aim will be to consider how philosophical assumptions inform the interpretations of empirical work on consciousness, and how empirical work might illuminate philosophical theorizing. Instructed by: Staff

CGS 312 Cognitive Science of Metaethics (also
CHV 317
PHI 349
) Spring EC

Are ethical and other normative judgments (like those of aesthetics) objective or in some sense relative? Can such judgments be true or false, or do they express a different type of mental state altogether (like "Ouch!")? Philosophers and cognitive scientists have begun using empirical methods to address these types of questions in metaethics. This course provides an introduction to these questions and surveys the recent experimental work. In the first part of the course, we'll discuss moral realism vs. anti-realism. In the second part, we'll look at the nature of normative disagreement and its role in specific metaethical theories. Instructed by: Staff

CGS 315 Philosophy of Mind (See PHI 315)

CGS 316 Philosophy and Psychopathology (also
PHI 348
) Fall EC

This course explores the nature of mental disorder and its meaning for sufferers and society. The first part of the course introduces students to rival accounts of the distinction between pathological and normal functioning, focusing on depression and delusions. The second part turns to anorexia, addiction, and the personality disorders, to consider the impact of mental disorder on individuals and its relevance to personal relationships, clinical treatment, law and society. The course draws on multiple sources, including philosophy, cognitive science, clinical practice, medical ethics, case studies and personal narratives. Instructed by: Staff

CGS 322 Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences (See PHI 322)

CGS 352 Philosophy of Bias: Psychology, Epistemology, and Ethics of Stereotypes (See PHI 352)