Course 6-9: Computation and Cognition

Course 6-9: Computation and Cognition









As human brains increasingly interact with technology that mimics their own capabilities, the need for students to understand both the science and engineering of intelligence continues to grow as well. Addressing these challenges will require a deeper understanding of how the brain produces intelligent behavior and how we may be able to replicate intelligence in machines.

The Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) at MIT offer a joint curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science in Computation and Cognition that focuses on computational and engineering approaches to brain science, cognition, and machine intelligence. Students in the program are full members of both EECS and BCS.

The Course 6-9 curriculum provides flexibility to accommodate students with a wide diversity of interests in this area. This includes topics from neuroengineering ( reverse engineering circuits in the brain and developing brain interfaces) to biologically-inspired approaches to artificial intelligence.



Students will learn the fundamentals required for understanding neural circuits and designing and building interfaces between neurons and artificial neural hardware. Suggested subjects are 6.002, 6.003 and 6.009.

Human and Machine Intelligence

Students will learn to tackle the challenges of designing and building artificial intelligent systems that attain or exceed human-level performance in complex tasks. Suggested subjects are 6.034, 6.006 and 6.009.

The 6-9 major will jointly reside in EECS and BCS. Enrolled students will have a primary academic advisor in BCS with a secondary advisor in EECS. Advisors are assigned to students by the BCS Academic Office. 

Degree Chart

The MIT subject listing and schedule can be found here.



The Course 6-9 Roadmap can be found here.



General Institute Requirements (GIRs)

The General Institute Requirements include a Communication Requirement that is integrated into both the HASS Requirement and the requirements of each major; see details below.

Summary of Subject Requirements Subjects
Science Requirement 6
Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement [two subjects can be satisfied by 9.46 and 9.85 in the Departmental Program]; at least two of these subjects must be designated as communication-intensive (CI-H) to fulfill the Communication Requirement. 8
Restricted Electives in Science and Technology (REST) Requirement [can be satisfied by 9.01 and 6.042[J]18.03, or 18.06 in the Departmental Program] 2
Laboratory Requirement (12 units) [can be satisfied by a laboratory in the Departmental Program] 1
Total GIR Subjects Required for SB Degree 17

Physical Education Requirement  
Swimming requirement, plus four physical education courses for eight points.  


Departmental Program

Choose at least two subjects in the major that are designated as communication-intensive (CI-M) to fulfill the Communication Requirement.

Required Subjects Units
6.0001 Introduction to Computer Science Programming in Python 6
9.01 Introduction to Neuroscience 12
Select one of the following: 12
Mathematics for Computer Science  
Differential Equations  
Linear Algebra  
Select one of the following: 12
Introduction to Inference  
Introduction to Probability  
Statistics for Brain and Cognitive Science 1  
EECS Program Subjects  
6.036 Introduction to Machine Learning 1 12
6.003 Signals and Systems 12
or 6.034 Artificial Intelligence
Select two of the following: 24
Circuits and Electronics  
Introduction to Algorithms  
Fundamentals of Programming  
BCS Program Subjects  
Brain Systems/Neurophysiology  
Select one of the following: 12
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology  
The Human Brain  
Developmental Neurobiology  
Cellular Neurophysiology and Computing  
Introduction to Neural Computation 1  
Computation and Cognition  
Select one of the following: 12
Computational Psycholinguistics 1  
Neural Circuits for Cognition  
Emergent Computations Within Distributed Neural Circuits  
Computational Cognitive Science  
Infant and Early Childhood Cognition (CI-M) 1  
Program Electives  
One subject from the BCS/EECS Joint Electives list 12
One subject from the BCS Electives or BCS/EECS Joint Electives list 9-12
One subject from the Laboratory Subjects list 12
Advanced Undergraduate Project  
Select one of the following: 9-18
Seminar in Undergraduate Advanced Research (12 units, CI-M)  
Oral Communication (CI-M)  
Research and Communication in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (CI-M)  
Projects in the Science of Intelligence (CI-M)  
Units in Major 156-168
Unrestricted Electives 48-84
Units in Major That Also Satisfy the GIRs (36-60)
Total Units Beyond the GIRs Required for SB Degree 180

The units for any subject that counts as one of the 17 GIR subjects cannot also be counted as units required beyond the GIRs.


Subject has prerequisites that are outside of the program.


Subjects that also appear in one of the electives lists can count as either a BCS Program Subject or a Program Elective, but not both.

BCS/EECS Joint Electives1

6.027[J] Biomolecular Feedback Systems 12
6.034 Artificial Intelligence 12
6.141[J] Robotics: Science and Systems 12
6.801 Machine Vision 12
6.803 The Human Intelligence Enterprise 12
6.806 Advanced Natural Language Processing 2 12
6.819 Advances in Computer Vision 2 12
9.19 Computational Psycholinguistics 12
9.21[J] Cellular Neurophysiology and Computing 2 12
9.35 Perception 12
9.40 Introduction to Neural Computation 12
9.49 Neural Circuits for Cognition 12
9.66[J] Computational Cognitive Science 12

BCS Electives1

9.09[J] Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 12
9.13 The Human Brain 12
9.18[J] Developmental Neurobiology 12
9.24 Disorders and Diseases of the Nervous System 2 12
9.26[J] Principles and Applications of Genetic Engineering for Biotechnology and Neuroscience 2 12
9.42 The Brain and Its Interface with the Body 2 12
9.46 Neuroscience of Morality 2 12
9.53 Emergent Computations Within Distributed Neural Circuits 12
9.85 Infant and Early Childhood Cognition 2 12

Laboratory Subjects

6.101 Introductory Analog Electronics Laboratory (CI-M) 12
6.111 Introductory Digital Systems Laboratory 12
6.115 Microcomputer Project Laboratory (CI-M) 12
6.129[J] Biological Circuit Engineering Laboratory (CI-M) 12
6.141[J] Robotics: Science and Systems (CI-M) 12
6.161 Modern Optics Project Laboratory (CI-M) 12
6.182 Psychoacoustics Project Laboratory (CI-M) 12
9.17 Systems Neuroscience Laboratory (CI-M) 12
9.59[J] Laboratory in Psycholinguistics (CI-M) 12
9.60 Machine-Motivated Human Vision (CI-M) 2 12

Subjects that also appear in the list of BCS Program Subjects can count as either a BCS Program Subject or a Program Elective, but not both.


Subject has prerequisites that are outside of the program.

undergraduate research in BCS and EECS

MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) cultivates and supports research partnerships between MIT undergraduates and faculty. Participating in a UROP through the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences  and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science gives students an incredible opportunity to be a part of the exciting research taking place here at MIT.

Please take some time to explore BCS and EECS faculty profiles and learn about what their labs are investigating!

Browse current UROP opportunities posted on MIT’s UROP website.

For more information or questions please contact 

Career Outlook

The Computation and Cognition major provides students with outstanding preparation for research and development in the science and engineering of intelligent systems. The problem of intelligence — how the brain produces intelligent behavior and how it can be replicated in machines — is one of the greatest engineering and scientific challenges of our time. The fields of neuroscience and computer science are complementary and interacting. Transformative advances in machine intelligence will require an understanding of the mechanisms of the human mind and brain in engineering terms.

Graduates of the program will be well-positioned for careers in two rapidly emerging fields: 1) the science and engineering of computational approaches to cognition and intelligence, and 2) computational approaches to understanding the architecture, circuits and physiology of the brain. Our expectation is that graduates of the new joint program will be extremely attractive to companies working in the area of machine intelligence (Google, IBM, DeepMind, Facebook, GE, etc.), and will be highly competitive in graduate programs in the brain and cognitive sciences.

Sample Job Titles:

Perceptual Image Processing Engineer
Computational Neuroscientist
Machine Learning Scientist
Quantitative System Neuroscientist
Research Support Specialist
Research Engineer, Language
Software Engineer, Computer Vision
Systems Software Engineer
Companies Looking for this Expertise:
Apple Inc.
SR Research



For more information, contact:

BCS Academic Office

Building 46 Room 2005