Examine how the mind works using an interdisciplinary perspective drawing on the core disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, computer science, philosophy and linguistics.

The major is designed to familiarize students with methodologies for studying the mind drawn from the core cognitive science disciplines and applied to central issues in cognitive science. For example, how do we interpret sensory experience? How is memory organized in the mind and brain? How do we remember and why do we forget? How are components of language (sound, meaning, syntax) represented in the mind and brain and how do they interact? What does consciousness add to cognition and what cognitive processes are nonconscious?

Majors are required to take a computer science course designed for cognitive science students as well as a course with an experimental research requirement. Students acquire breadth with selection of courses that differ in disciplinary focus and depth by selecting a subconcentration in psychology or computer science and an advanced seminar. All seniors complete a year-long senior thesis including original research designed in collaboration with the thesis advisor. The program emphasizes hands-on research and virtually all students obtain paid summer research positions, on or off campus.

  • Cognitive Science Major
    Harrison Goodall ’16, a cognitive science and theater double major and 2016 Watson Fellowship recipient.

What You'll Study

  • Computational models of the mind
  • Cognition and the arts
  • Why we are conscious
  • Neural basis of cognition
  • When cognition is nonconscious
The number of departments offering courses in the cognitive science major.

Researching at Pomona

  • Vienna Vance
    Studying Child Development

    Vienna Vance '21, interested in studying child development, interned at a local enrichment center for children with developmental disabilities.

  • Ladin Boluk
    Strategic Messaging

    Last summer, Ladin Boluk '21 worked for a digital marketing and consultancy agency, where she developed strategic messages for social media and advertising.

Ladin Boluk
Ladin Boluk ’21

In a cognitive science class, you can apply models from computer science to neuroscience to understand the brain, while discussing its philosophical implications on what we think of as ‘the human mind.’ Thus, cognitive science is not only a topic, but also a mindset that allows you to draw from what you learn and make connections between what you know.

Faculty & Teaching

Our cognitive science faculty’s areas of expertise include aging and cognition, emotion and cognition, language and memory, and neural processes involved in language. Affiliated professors represent the disciplines of music, computer science, philosophy, cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. 

Professor Deborah Burke

Cognitive science faculty members encourage students to do research outside their courses and students want opportunities for research. During the summer, virtually all majors have paid positions in laboratories in universities or industry. These positions have been a rich source of ideas for theses and jobs after graduation.