Cognitive Science

Program Offerings

Offering type

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.


Goals for Student Learning

Students who complete the program are expected to achieve the following learning goals: develop an ability to recognize and apply cognitive science concepts and methodologies across diverse kinds of minds and across levels of analysis; develop an ability to evaluate evidence and arguments regarding claims about diverse kinds of minds, including minds in social, cultural and technological contexts.

Admission to the Program

The program is open to undergraduates majoring 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 major, unless permission is obtained from the director;
  4. At least one course that is not counted toward the student's departmental major;
  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 major. 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.


  • Director

    • Tania Lombrozo
  • Executive Committee

    • Adam N. Elga, Philosophy
    • Adele E. Goldberg, Psychology
    • Sarah-Jane Leslie, Philosophy
    • Casey Lew-Williams, Psychology
    • Tania Lombrozo, Psychology
    • Elizabeth H. Margulis, Music
    • Karthik Narasimhan, Computer Science
    • Kenneth A. Norman, 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
    • Agustin Fuentes, Anthropology
    • Elizabeth Gould, Psychology
    • Tom Griffiths, Psychology
    • Elizabeth Harman, Philosophy
    • Uri Hasson, Psychology
    • Grace E. Helton, Philosophy
    • Mark Johnston, Philosophy
    • 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
    • Gideon A. Rosen, Philosophy
    • Carolyn M. Rouse, Anthropology
    • Olga Russakovsky, Computer Science
    • Beth Semel, Anthropology
    • Eldar Shafir, Psychology
    • Stacey A. Sinclair, Psychology
    • Una Stojnic, Philosophy
    • Diana I. Tamir, Psychology
    • Natalia Vélez, 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.


CGS 205 - Introduction to Language and Linguistics (also LIN 201) Fall/Spring EC

CGS 254 - Developmental Psychology (also PSY 254) Fall EC

CGS 255 - Cognitive Psychology (also PSY 255) Spring SEN

CGS 315 - Philosophy of Mind (also CHV 315/PHI 315) Spring EC

CGS 322 - Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences (also PHI 322) Fall EC

CGS 352 - Philosophy of Bias: Psychology, Epistemology, and Ethics of Stereotypes (also PHI 352) Spring EC