Course Requirements

A graduate student in the Cognitive Science Program is required to meet the requirements of their home department (Psychology, Computer Science, Child Study and Human Development, or Education) as well as the requirements for the Cognitive Science Program. Some of these requirements will overlap with one another. In addition to the Course Requirements outlined on this page, students in the program will also follow General Program Requirements.

A minimum of 11 courses is required for a student to graduate with a Cognitive Science PhD. Four of these courses are Core Courses, and 7 of these courses are Electives. Some of these requirements may overlap with the requirements of the student’s home department.

Core Courses

All Cognitive Science students must take all four core courses listed. These are non-transferrable. These four core courses represent four foundational fields in Cognitive Science: philosophy, computer science, neuroscience, psychology and linguistics. These courses (or one of the alternative options for them) will be offered regularly at least once every 2 years. Students must take them when they are offered, to prevent running into scheduling problems later.

  1. Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science: PHIL 191 (Fall) and PHIL 192 (Spring)
    This course covers many current issues in the philosophy of mind (functionalism, emergence, computationalism, supervenience, etc.) and philosophy of science (reductionism, theory, models, causation, explanation). Instructor: Epstein.
  2. Computational Models in Cognitive Science: COMP 134
    Introduction to computational modeling in various subfields of cognitive science (e.g., symbolic and neural network models, artificial life and agent-based models, dynamical systems models). Instructor: De Ruiter.
  3. Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience: PSY 231  or PSY 232
    PSY 231: Introduction to neural mechanisms underlying cognition (including brain physiology, neurons and neural pathways, chemical and electrical mechanism). Instructor: Race.
    PSY 232: Introduction to cognition and behavior (including cognitive phenomena and functions, architectures, language, memory, etc.). Instructor: Thomas.
  4. Cognitive Science of Language and Communication: PSY 212 or PSY 251
    PSY 212: Introduction to the cognitive science of human communication, including verbal (language), multimodal (e.g., gesture) and nonverbal communication. Instructor: De Ruiter.
    PSY 251: Introduction to the cognitive principles and architecture of language. Instructors: Goldberg, Kuperberg.


To graduate with a PhD in Cognitive Science, students must take at least 7 elective courses in total.

Electives within the student's Home Discipline

Three of the elective courses can be taken within the student’s home discipline and are managed by the student’s home department. These courses should cover an area of Cognitive Science that is directly beneficial to the student’s research and should be discussed directly between the student and their Primary Advisor. Transfers for these courses are managed by the home department. Tracking of these courses are managed by the home department.

Interdisciplinary Electives

At least four of the elective courses should cover areas of Cognitive Science that are outside those traditionally covered by the student's home department. These four courses can constitute any combination from the following three groups:

  1. COGS Interdisciplinary Courses, selected from the list below. These are courses that receive an explicit preface of COGS. To be designated as a COGS course, the CogSci Steering Committee votes that this course is interdisciplinary in nature, covering at least two core disciplines within Cognitive Science. No transfers are permitted.
  2. Approved courses that are offered outside the student's home department. These courses have all been approved by the CogSci Steering Committee. A student can petition to transfer up to two of these courses from another University, following these guidelines for transfer.
  3. By petition only. Students can petition to include any other course offered at Tufts that enables the student to gain competency in a topic related to their Cognitive Science research, allowing them to carry out interdisciplinary research. Please note: the student must have their advisor's and their instructor's approval to take the course before submitting the petition. No transfers are permitted for these petitioned courses. In order to petition to have a course count towards their CogSci electives, the student should complete this form.

COGS Interdisciplinary Courses

PSY 248/COGS 248: The Predictive Mind
PSY 210/COGS 210: Introduction to Computer Programming in Psychology
COMP 150/COGS 193: Ethics for AI, Robotics and Human Interaction
COMP 150/COGS 293: Human-Robot Interaction
COMP 150: EXM Experimental Methods for Computer Scientists