Students who choose to pursue the Cognitive Science B.S. degree seek to understand how the mind works. They are also likely to develop their mathematical and computational skills, applying them to empirical and quantitative research in some aspect of the field.
Cognitive Science embodies intergrated, multidisciplinary and experimental approaches to the study of the ways humans, animals and machines process information. A Cognitive Science graduate, skilled in the analysis of cognitive and decision-making processes, is well-prepared for a rewarding professional future.
- Computer Science and Informatics
- History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine
- Psychological and Brain Sciences
- Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences
- The Media School
There are two degree options in Cognitive Science: a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). Students inclined toward psychology, philosophy, and linguistics typically choose the B.A. option. Students interested in developing additional computational and mathematical skills and in focusing on both empirical and quantitative research usually choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree.
The interdisciplinary nature of the degree coursework allows you to explore a wide variety of research areas. Students interested in the humanities can study how the human brain shapes creativity. Those who are interested in the health sciences may opt to investigate such subjects as whether exercise aids cognitive functions. There are many options for study with this degree.
Breadth courses must be chosen from the approved by the Cognitive Science Program list of courses related to Cognitive Science. Try one or more courses listed below, or see the full list of courses under Addenda: Breadth in the Bulletin:
- INFO-I 101 Introduction to Informatics
- LING-L 103 Introduction to the Study of Language
- PSY-P 101 or PSY-P155 Introductory Psychology
Contact your advisor for additional information.
Additional exploratory options, not required in the major are:
- COLL-C 105 Brains, Minds, Robots and Computers
- COGS-Q 101 Introduction to Cognitive Science
Tracks and concentrations
Students who choose the Cognitive Science B.S. degree choose one of the following focal areas (concentrations) in the major and take three courses: one at the 200 level and two advanced courses:
- Individual students can design a specialized focal area (concentration) and submit a proposal to the Cognitive Science Program Advisor for approval
Contact advisor for additional information.
Upper level coursework
Once you decide on a focal area for the major, you will take several more advanced courses at the 300- or 400-level in a discipline of your choice. For example, when you choose to specialize in Cognition, you will find many relevant courses listed in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.
Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates
Due to its interdisciplinary nature, a Cognitive Science B.S. degree will pair exceptionally well with many other disciplines of study. With the help of your advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest, formally adding one or more minors, certificates or a second degree.
The Cognitive Science B.S. degree and the Psychology B.S. or Neuroscience B.S. degrees are frequently paired, as well as Computer Science B.A. and School of Informatics degrees. In fact, virtually any major or minor in the College of Arts and Sciences or other schools at Indiana University will work well with the Cognitive Science B.S. degree.
Cognitive Science majors who are interested in leadership and business often pursue the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) certificate.
Students pursuing pre-law or pre-health tracks usually find the Cognitve Science B.S. to be a good option.
- Enhance your major
Working with faculty
When pursuing a B.S. degree in Cognitive Science, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.
You can get involved in research as early as your freshman year. Many incoming freshmen apply to the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) program. ASURE students experience project-based learning enhanced by a community of supportive faculty and peers. Choose an ASURE path in the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, or natural and mathematical sciences. Consider joining one that will deepen your skills and knowledge in an area related to your major or a different one to become a more well-rounded thinker.
Students in the Cognitive Science B.S. program are required to complete 6 independent research credits with program faculty. One option is to create an individualized reading project tailored to your interests through COGS-X 490 Readings in the Cognitive and Information Sciences.
You could also assist a faculty member in an experiment project or lab data management project through COGS-X 497 Research in the Cognitive and Information Sciences or COGS-X 498 Research Project in the Cognitive Sciences.
Such close collaboration with our faculty may help you to get your work published, and thus enhance your graduate school and career portfolio. Indiana University Journal of Undergraduate Research is an excellent on campus resource for you.
Students who would like to formally enhance their knowledge and experience in their chosen field and who maintain a minimum 3.3 overall GPA and 3.5 GPA in the Cognitive Science B.S. major, may apply for the Cognitive Science Honors Program.
Completing this program involves conducting an individual research project or writing a thesis under the supervision of a faculty member. Interested students should discuss this opportunity with their advisor in their sophomore year.
Students approved for Honors are encouraged to take COGS-Q499 Honors Research project with their Honors faculty mentor by the spring of their junior year or the fall of the senior year. See the Senior Thesis Research Guide for more information.
Undergraduate scholarships and awards
Cognitive Science students can apply for the Undergraduate Summer Research Scholarships.
You may also be eligible to apply for many of the IUB scholarships and the College of Arts and Sciences scholarships for students majoring in science and the social sciences. Talk with your academic advisor about these opportunities.
Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.
Previous Cognitive Science students have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:
- AEA Consulting
- Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior
- Cook Group
- Fox 59 WXIN-TV
- Huron Consulting Group
- Hitachi Consulting
- JP Morgan
- Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences
Cognitive Science interns in these and other organizations have been able to run experiments, conduct data analysis, do independent research, and more.
Learn more about internships, and the possibility of earning credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you will have access to many resources to find both domestic and international internships.
It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in COGS-X373 Internship in Professional Practice in Cognitive Science.
Foreign language study
Students pursuing a Cognitive Science B.S. degree must demonstrate third-semester proficiency in a single foreign language to fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences Foreign Language Requirement. If a student decides to study through the fourth semester (or beyond), this coursework fulfills the IUB General Education World Languages and Cultures requirement.
As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 80 languages. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.
Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington.
- Arabic Flagship Program
- Center for Language Technology and Instructional Enrichment
- Chinese Flagship Center
- Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships
- IU Summer Language Workshop
- Language Tables
- Project GO
Cognitive Science majors can also study abroad. Interested students should contact the Office of Overseas Study for help in selecting a program.
You may opt for the Cognitive Science Exchange with Linkoping, Sweden, developed by the Cognitive Science Program for Cognitive Science majors.
The Student Organization for Cognitive Science (SOCS) organizes an annual Midwest Undergraduate Cognitive Science Conference (MUCSC) on the IUB campus. COGS majors may join the MUCSC planning committee and/or volunteer or present at the conference.
The SOCS group is very active, meeting weekly during Fall and Spring terms. SOCS also organizes discussions, talks and dinners with IUB faculty and graduate students, lab tours and movie viewings. Check out the SOCS Facebook page.
Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a variety of learning programs, which allow students to select to live among peers sharing common academic and extracurricular interests.
Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.
There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. Check the IU Corps page for volunteer options. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:
- Adopt a Trail Bloomington Parks and Recreation
- Girls Inc.
- Habitat for Humanity
- Monroe County Humane Association
- MCCSC Adult Education
- Volunteers in Medicine
- Wild Care
- WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology
Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.
Many professional organizations are relevant to Cognitive Science, including:
- American Psychological Association
- American Society for Information Science
- Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence
- Cognitive Science Society
- Women in Cognitive Science
- Build your skills
Through the major
The Cognitive Science B.S. degree provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. You will learn how to:
- Collect and analyze data on cognition using the methodologies of a number of fields
- Apply cognitive theory to problems in business, law, education, medicine, and the arts
- Learn how to design and run experiments to test hypotheses
- Hone skills for critical reading and thinking, teamwork, research and writing
- Develop technology skills useful in various work environments
- Present outcomes of problem-solving tasks to peers and supervisors
Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree
Together with your other coursework, your degree provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:
- Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
- Learn to think critically and creatively
- Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
- Discover ethical perspectives
- Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
- Practice and apply scientific methods
- Learn to reason quantitatively
- Develop historical consciousness
- Investigate and study the international community
- Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
- Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject
Skills desired by employers
Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.
The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:
- Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
- Work in a team structure
- Make decisions and solve problems
- Plan, organize, and prioritize work
- Obtain and process relevant information
- Analyze quantitative data
- Create and/or edit written reports
- Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
- Proficiency with computer software programs
- Create and edit written reports
- Ability to persuade or influence others
As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at IUB.
Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.
- Launch your career
Plan your search
The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.
Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.
Maximize your career preparation with a career course. Cognitive Science majors should consider enrolling in ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience The section dedicated to Natural and Mathematical Sciences or relevant school] provides the opportunity for you to explore the relationship between your field of study and life after graduation, while developing an academic and career development plan for post-collegiate success. If you are considering continuing your studies after graduation, you may wish to enroll instead in the section dedicated to graduate school preparation. Regardless of the section you select, you will leave the class with your resume, a cover letter or personal statement, and a LinkedIn profile ready to go!
The job market
As new industries have been steadily growing over the past few decades, the number of jobs and careers related to cognitive science has also increased. The demand for specialized interdisciplinary approaches will continue to rise, along with the need for experts with strong analytical skills who understand how humans, machines and even animals learn and think.
Students with the Cognitive Science B.S. degree take their education in many directions. They are well prepared to work in the marketing and information industries. They find jobs in a variety of sectors, including research, government, nonprofit, private corporations, education and business.
Graduates with the Cognitive Science B.S. tend to seek jobs in fields such as:
- Artificial intelligence and information processing
- Data representation and information retrieval
- Game design and development
- Marketing consultation
- Media and telecommunications
- Medical analysis
- Psychology and neuroscience
- Scientific research
- Software development
Talk with the Cognitive Science faculty, the academic advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Cognitive Science Program and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.
Post-graduate short-term experiences
After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers or graduate school. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:
The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers short-term opportunities through the IUB Research Laboratories.
Fellowships for post-graduate study
Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.
Resources for fellowship opportunities include:
- Association for Women in Science
- IU Graduate School Fellowships and Awards
- National Science Foundation
Graduate and professional study
When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.
A Cognitive Science B.S. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as: business and consulting, computer science, informatics, law, neuroscience, psychology, public policy, and other academic fields.
With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you can prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.
Students who pursue graduate studies in cognitive science have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, government and intelligence positions, media, business and entrepreneurship.
You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:
- Cognitive Science Graduate Program
- Maurer School of Law
- School of Informatics and Computing
- O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Read about where Cognitive Science alumni have gone after IU on the Alumni Spotlights page.
Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.
Is it for you?
The Cognitive Science Program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. As a student interested in the Cognitive Science B.S. degree, you could be:
- Curious about how human or animal brains work
- Fascinated by artificial intelligence, robots, and computer coding
- Ready to investigate the concept of intelligence
- Interested in the mechanisms of learning and reasoning
- Eager to undertake individual research experiments and projects in cognitive laboratories, and to learn how to make scientific presentations
- Intrigued by quantitative research, mathematics and computation
- Excited about entering a growing and cutting-edge field with many career possibilities
- Department website
- Advisor email address