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Admission & Requirements


Major Requirements: 10 Approved Courses

All Cognitive Science courses belong to one of the five areas that comprise the field: Cognitive Psychology, Neuroscience, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Computer Science. The Cognitive Science course of study consists of 10 approved courses (at least 30 credits): one course in each of the five areas (typically 15 credits), one calculus course (3-4 credits), two upper level concentration courses (typically 6 credits), and two or more electives (6+ credits).

Cognitive Science courses are selected from disciplines across grounds which contain significant content related to the scientific study of the mind and its processes. All courses which count for the major are vetted and approved by our director and/or area specialist faculty. Therefore, the approved course list changes each term to encompass new areas of exploration. See what courses are currently approved here.

The minimum grade for all in-major courses is a C, and students are required to maintain a 2.0 or better in-major GPA. Ungraded courses cannot be applied to the major (exceptions for approved courses taken Spring 2020 where CR/GC was accepted, the academic year 2020-2021, Summer 2021 and Fall 2022 where CR was accepted).

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Prerequisites for Admission

To be eligible to declare a major in cognitive science students must have completed two approved cognitive science courses from different areas and received a C+ or better in both. There is no minimum or maximum course level threshold for prerequisite courses. Prerequisite courses can also be used to satisfy area requirements once a student has declared and been accepted.

Calculus or elective-only courses cannot be used as prerequisites.


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Area Requirements

All students must take one approved course in each of the five areas of the study of cognitive science:

  • Psychology
  • Neuroscience
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Computer Science

Note: There is no minimum or maximum course level threshold for an approved course to satisfy an area requirement. Courses that have been approved for elective credit only cannot be used to satisfy any area requirements.

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All students must take one calculus course. Courses that satisfy this requirement are:

  • APMA 1090 Single Variable Calculus I
  • APMA 1110 Single Variable Calculus II
  • APMA 2130 Ordinary Differential Equations
  • MATH 1220 Survey of Calculus II
  • MATH 1310 Calculus I
  • MATH 1320 Calculus II
  • MATH 2310 Calculus III
  • MATH 2315 Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra I
  • MATH 3250 Ordinary Differential Equations
  • MATH 3351 Elementary Linear Algebra

Note: Students are highly encouraged to take MATH 1310. MATH 1190 Survey of Calculus I with Algebra and MATH 1210 Survey of Calculus I do not satisfy the calculus requirement, and students who have taken one of these courses will then be unable to take MATH 1310 and receive degree credit (they would, however, be able to take MATH 1310 for major credit).

The calculus requirement is the only requirement that can be satisfied with transfer or test credit. If students use test or transfer credit it will not count toward the 30 program hours but will fulfill the requirement.

Having completed this requirement is not a prerequisite for declaring the major. However, we still encourage students to complete this requirement as early as possible during their academic careers, especially students unlikely to take any other math courses in their time at UVA.

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Upper Level Concentration Courses

All students must choose one of the five areas to concentrate in at the time of declaring the major. They must then complete two upper level approved courses from their chosen area of concentration. The minimum threshold for a course to be considered upper level depends on the particular area:

  • Psychology and Neuroscience concentrations require 4000+ level courses
  • Linguistics, Philosophy, and Computer Science require 3000+ level courses

Students wishing to change their concentration after declaring should contact the department at and communicate their current concentration and intended new concentration.

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Students must take however many electives they need to reach 10 Cognitive Science courses / 30 credit hours once the other requirements are accounted for. The exact number will depend on whether or not a student used test/transfer credit to satisfy the calculus requirement. Elective courses can be chosen from any of the five area approved lists or any courses designated as elective-only, and have no minimum or maximum course level.

Students can also use up to two (6-8 credits) pre-approved study abroad courses towards their elective requirement.

How to Declare

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Sign up for notifications

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Complete the Cognitive Science Major Planning Form 

Download and complete the Cognitive Science Course Planning form. Note the following:

  • On the form, include your prerequisite classes in the lower sections of the course form as well as the initial prerequisite section. Qualifying prerequisite classes should have a grade of C+.
  • Include in the course plan only courses completed at UVA and ones where you have a C or above since any grade below that will not count for the major. No transfer or test credit can be used for major requirements, except for the calculus requirement. 
  • If you have test or transfer credit for the math requirement (MATH 1220, MATH 1310, APMA 1090 or higher) this will fulfill the calculus requirement but should be listed as 0 hours. You will need to add an additional elective from any area of approved COGS classes if using test or transfer credit for this requirement. If you have or plan to fulfill the math requirement at UVA, the hours taken at UVA can be counted toward the 30.
  • Choose one of the five areas as your COGS concentration and select two upper level classes to fulfill the requirement.
    • If you are  pursuing the Computer Science Concentration, you must fill out the CS concentration form and have it approved by CS area specialist Dr John Hott before submitting your declaration.
  • After completing the above, project your remaining courses till they total 10 taken at UVA from the approved or frequently approved course lists.
  • Your course plan is not binding, and indicating that you intend to take a given course in a given semester does not guarantee enrollment.
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Officially Declare

Students must submit a Major Declaration DocuSign form from the College of Arts and Sciences to officially declare.

Note: Despite what the Declaration form says, it is NOT necessary to contact the Program prior to declaring.

  1. Carefully read the instructions in the link above, and from there follow the first link to the PowerForm.
  2. Enter your information under the heading Student
  3. Under the heading Declaration of Major/Minor Contact (DMC) enter name: Eric Dynarski email:
  4. Complete the required fields in the DocuSign form. You do not need to enter your prospective coursework on the DocuSign form.
    1. On the Intended Major/Minor line, please ensure that you enter Cognitive Science AND your intended area of concentration
  5. Attach the following:
    1. Your completed Cognitive Science course planning form
    2. an unofficial transcript
  6. Sign and submit the form
  7. The form and attachments will be routed to the Cognitive Science Undergraduate Coordinator for review. You will be contacted by email if there are any issues.
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Check SIS Academic Requirements

After 10 business days of submitting your form, your major and advisor should show up in SIS below your general education requirements. If 10 days have passed, and you are not notified via DocuSign that your form has been processed and you have checked SIS and don't see your major, please email to let me know, so the coordinator can check the status of your declaration form. Please note that if you submit your declaration during periods in which University offices are not open then it may take more than 10 days for your form to be processed.

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Consider Becoming Involved in Research

All Cognitive Science students are encouraged to build upon the skills and knowledge acquired during major coursework by working as a Research Assistant (RA) in one of the many faculty labs throughout the university. Students working as RAs can enroll in COGS 3960 Cognitive Science Research for 2-3 credits a semester (these credits will count towards degree completion but will not satisfy Cognitive Science major requirements). Students interested in pursuing research opportunities can find more information here.

Distinguished Major Program (DMP)

There will be an information session for COGS students interested in the DMP on Thursday March 21st, from 5pm-6pm in Gilmer 400.

All Cognitive Science students are encouraged to consider applying to the Distinguished Major Program at the end of their 3rd year. The DMP offers passionate students the opportunity to pursue their unique line of research under the guidance of a research mentor and to write an undergraduate thesis. Once accepted, DMPs enroll in the first half of a year long course (COGS 4970, then COGS 4980 the following semester) with the director so they can participate in a seminar with other COGS DMPs while also continuing to research, collect data, and work with their mentor.

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Students applying to the Distinguished Major Program must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 and have completed 18 credit hours towards their Cognitive Science major by the end of the semester in which they apply. Students wishing to do an empirical study with humans, requiring data collection and analysis, need to take PSYC 2005, or provide some other proof that they can analyze their data. In addition to the major requirements for Cognitive Science, students must register for two semesters of supervised research in COGS 4970 Distinguished Major Thesis I and COGS 4980 Distinguished Major Thesis II. DMPs will sign up for COGS 4970 with Per Sederberg while continuing their supervised research with labs and mentors designated on their applications. Based on their independent research, students must complete a thesis at least one month prior to graduation. Please note: The DMP credits do not apply towards the 30 credit hours required for the major.

More information can be found on the dedicated DMP page.


The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at