Course 9: Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Course 9: Brain and Cognitive Sciences

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is rooted in a tradition of intensive academics and research, where rigorous coursework is coupled with hands-on, collaborative research. Lectures are taught by world-class faculty, and students have access to their professors in the lab. Together, they seek answers to questions about how humans think, learn, behave, and feel.

The Department has created a tiered undergraduate curriculum that ensures graduates have the skills and preparation needed to excel as leaders in their chosen fields. The undergraduate program begins with foundational courses in a broad range of subjects, including computer science and programming, neural computation, and probability and statistics. The second and third tiers allow for increased focus and deeper exploration through course offerings in areas such as cellular neurobiology, psycholinguistics, and genetic engineering.  

Degree Chart

The MIT subject listing and schedule 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 9.00 and one other HASS subject 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 6.0001/6.0002and 9.01 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
Tier I  
6.0001 Introduction to Computer Science Programming in Python 6
6.0002 Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science 6
9.00 Introduction to Psychological Science 12
9.01 Introduction to Neuroscience 12
9.40 Introduction to Neural Computation 12
9.07 Statistics for Brain and Cognitive Science 12
Tier 2  
Select three of the following; up to seven may be taken: 36-84
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology  
The Human Brain  
Developmental Neurobiology  
Computational Psycholinguistics  
Cellular Neurophysiology and Computing  
Principles and Applications of Genetic Engineering for Biotechnology and Neuroscience  
Neural Circuits for Cognition  
Emergent Computations Within Distributed Neural Circuits  
Computational Cognitive Science  
Infant and Early Childhood Cognition (CI-M)  
Tier 3  
Select up to four of the following: 0-48
Disorders and Diseases of the Nervous System  
Current Topics in Developmental Neurobiology (CI-M)  
Genes, Circuits, and Behavior  
The Brain and Its Interface with the Body  
Neuroscience of Morality (CI-M)  
Select one of the following: 1 12
Experimental Molecular Neurobiology (CI-M)  
Systems Neuroscience Laboratory (CI-M)  
Laboratory in Psycholinguistics (CI-M)  
Machine-Motivated Human Vision (CI-M)  
Select one of the following (Laboratory cannot also count for Research): 12-18
Experimental Molecular Neurobiology (CI-M)  
Systems Neuroscience Laboratory (CI-M)  
Research and Communication in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (CI-M)  
Research in Brain and Cognitive Sciences  
Laboratory in Psycholinguistics (CI-M)  
Machine-Motivated Human Vision (CI-M)  
Undergraduate Research  
Restricted Electives  
Select zero to four subjects. 9.URG cannot count as a Restricted Elective 0-48
Units in Major 168-174
Unrestricted Electives 54-72
Units in Major That Also Satisfy the GIRs (48-60)
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.


These subjects can count toward either the Laboratory or or the Research requirement, but not both.

Restricted Electives

2.003[J] Dynamics and Control I 12
2.184 Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement 12
5.07[J] Biological Chemistry I 12
5.12 Organic Chemistry I 12
5.13 Organic Chemistry II 12
6.003 Signals and Systems 12
6.027[J] Biomolecular Feedback Systems 12
6.034 Artificial Intelligence 12
6.036 Introduction to Machine Learning 12
6.042[J] Mathematics for Computer Science 12
6.045[J] Automata, Computability, and Complexity 12
6.046[J] Design and Analysis of Algorithms 12
6.801 Machine Vision 12
6.803 The Human Intelligence Enterprise 12
6.806 Advanced Natural Language Processing 12
6.819 Advances in Computer Vision 12
7.03 Genetics 12
9.72 Vision in Art and Neuroscience 12
18.03 Differential Equations 12
18.06 Linear Algebra 12
18.404 Theory of Computation 12
24.211 Theory of Knowledge 12
24.900 Introduction to Linguistics 12
24.901 Language and Its Structure I: Phonology 12
24.902 Language and Its Structure II: Syntax 12
24.903 Language and Its Structure III: Semantics and Pragmatics 12
24.904 Language Acquisition 12
Minor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences

The Minor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences consists of six subjects arranged in two tiers of study, intended to provide students breadth in the field as a whole and some depth in one or two areas of specialization. To find out more, please visit the course catalog.

How to Declare a Minor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences

  1. The Minor Application should be filled out by the end of your sophomore year, but no later than Add Date one full term before the term in which you expect to receive the S.B. degree.
  2. Visit the Registrar website to print out the Minor Application form.
  3. Please contact to set-up a time to discuss applying for a minor in BCS, and completion of minor.  You must bring your unofficial transcript which can be obtained from Student Services in 11-120.

NOTE: If you decide not to earn a Minor after applying for one, it is essential that you promptly notify the Academic Office. 

Undergraduate Research in BCS (UROP)

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 gives students an incredible opportunity to be a part of the exciting research taking place here in Bldg. 46.

Please take some time to explore BCS faculty profiles on our website 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

Graduates of our program are superbly equipped for the next stage of their career, whether they plan to enter the field directly or pursue further education and training. The paths they choose are as varied as the interests that brought them to MIT. From medicine and computer science to K-12 education, robotics, artificial intelligence, and academia, BCS alumni can be found working in many different settings.  

Example careers of alumni who entered the Cell/Molecular Neuroscience field:
- Pharmaceutical Scientist 
- Senior Research Scientist 
- Project Manager 
- Graduate school or Medical School 

Example careers of alumni who entered the Systems Neuroscience field: 
- Data Scientist
- Research Technician
- Senior Business Analyst 
- Graduate school or Medical School 

Example careers of our alumni who entered the Cognitive Neuroscience field: 
- Clinical Research Coordinator 
- Management Consultant 
- Analyst 
- Graduate school, Medical School, or Law School 
Example careers of alumni who entered the Computational Neuroscience field:
- Computational Neuroscientist 
- Software Developer 
- Computational Modeling and Machine Intelligence Scientist 
- Data Analytics Specialist 
- Graduate school


For more information, contact:

BCS Academic Office

Building 46 Room 2005