Frequently Asked Questions

I want to take COGS 1001, but the class is full! What do I do?

If you are a COGS major, watch for drops on Penn Course Alerts. If you are still unable to get in by the fall, attend the first few classes anyway. Historically, many/most students are able to get in by the add/drop deadline.

If you are in your last year, email the instructor to make sure they are aware of your situation.

If you are still exploring a COGS major/minor but aren’t certain you will major/minor, we recommend taking other courses (e.g., PSYC 0001 or LING 0001) that fulfill the breadth requirement for the major. You need to take these anyway for major requirements, and they will fulfill pre-requisites for other courses in the three COGS concentrations, which you will also have to take eventually. See here for more on the breadth and concentration requirements.

Do be aware that you do not need to take COGS 1001 to declare a COGS major!

Also be aware that this class is cross-listed in several departments (e.g., PSYC 1333) and students sometimes register in those cross-listings instead of COGS 1001. So the class can indeed be full even if the number of students registered COGS 1001 is below the enrollment cap. If PATH@PENN is telling you the class is full, then I’m afraid it is!

You can also sign up for COGS 1001 on Penn Course Alert, and you will get a notification when a spot in the course opens up. Other than this, there is no explicit waiting list for the course.

We generally do not give permissions/overenroll the course for students who are trying to fufill non-COGS major/minor requirements or college requirements.

If you are still unsure, email the instructor of COGS 1001, and include information about your educational status like year, major, and anything else relevant to your need/desire to take COGS 1001.

I want to get involved with research in cognitive science. What do I do?

Check out this page and see the options listed there for some ideas about how to get started with research.

What can kind of careers can I pursue with a degree in cognitive science?

In addition to graduate study and academic careers in cognitive science or the subdisciplines of cognitive science (e.g., psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, etc), students with degrees in cognitive science have pursued careers in medicine and healthcare, (software) engineering and data science, science communication and public policy, and more. The interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science means you will be well-prepared for a range of fields/careers. See this 2020 report on where recent Penn COGS majors go after graduation (ctrl + f for cognitive science).

What will a degree in cognitive science do for me, beyond a career?

Ideally, cognitive science has at least two more life-long effects on you, one more ‘outward’ focused, and the other more ‘inward’.

Outwardly: cognitive science has implications for many social, economic, and political issues. For example, the nature of animal intelligence may inform ethical treatment of animals, while the capabilities, biases, and limitations of AI should shape where we do — or don’t — use AI in practical settings. Understanding cognitive science will therefore help you be a more informed citizen of the world, who is better able to effect positive change in social, economic, and political arenas.

Inwardly: cognitive science will hopefully open up new intellectual frontiers to you, which you find uniquely self-enriching and stimulating. For many cognitive scientists, the study of the mind offers endlessly fascinating puzzles unmatched by anything else in the world.