Guidelines for Study Abroad in Cognitive Science

We value the experience of study abroad. If you are in no urgent need for cognitive science credits while overseas, you should consider taking full advantage of the opportunity to study, and live, in another country: take interesting electives, including those that may satisfy general college requirements.

If you are interested in obtaining credits for the major/minor while abroad, you should follow the following steps when you take an international university into consideration. 

(a) Check the list of pre-approved University courses. If a class has been pre-approved (e.g., by precedent) as a Penn equivalent — Department XXXX and course YYY — and the Penn class XXXX YYY is on our list of Cognitive Science classes, you are all set.

Simply sign up for it, submit it to XCAT, which will be transferred as XXXX YYY. When it shows up on your worksheet, which may take a little while passing through the system, we will be able to use it toward the Major/Minor. Remember: As noted on our main page, it is possible that a class from a concentration different from your own may still count toward your concentration; a meeting with, or a simple email confirmation from, the Program Director or Associate Director will suffice.

(b) If you believe that a University class is appropriate for Cognitive Science — and it is likely you would have some idea what is a plausible Cognitive Science topic by now! — but the class has not been pre-approved as a Penn equivalent (not covered by step (a) above), please gather as much information as you can about the class and send the materials to the Program Director or Associate Director. In general, a detailed syllabus is necessary, because a short course description usually does not provide sufficient information for us to make a decision about its appropriateness. Once the Program Director receives sufficient information about a class, they will be able to make an assessment and subsequent recommendations.

  1. If the class is deemed inappropriate, try another class.
  2. If the class is deemed appropriate, the Program Director or Associate Director may recommend that the student approach a specific Penn Department/Program to get the class approved as a Penn equivalent, e.g., if you want transfer credit for a PSYC class, the Psych department will approve that, not us! Sometimes a specific Penn class can be matched, while other times an abroad free elective for that department/program will be assigned. This way, the class in question is given an opportunity to become a pre-approved class by precedent for the convenience of future students. Our recommendations are generally accurate, but the ultimate decision of approval/rejection lies with the Department or Program to which the class is directed. Once the class is approved and appears on the worksheet, we will be able to use it for your major.
  3. In the rare case where an appropriate class cannot find a suitable home Department/Program at Penn, the student can submit to the Cognitive Science Program directly for the class to be approved as COGS 300 (free elective). Once the class credit has worked through the system and appears on your worksheet, we will be able to use it for your major.

The email address for Cognitive Science advising is: or