Courses & Requirements

Courses & Requirements

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.  

The course catalog provides more information on classes available in each tier. The tabs below outline department-specific information.  

General Institute Requirements

Students must take a total of 17 subjects, broken down as follows:

Science Requirement (6 subjects)
At present, no subjects from the Departmental Program fulfill this requirement.

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) (8 subjects)
Subjects 9.00, 9.20, and 9.85 are all HASS subjects, and can also count towards a student's Course 9 requirements.

REST Requirement (2 subjects)
As part of the REST Requirement, students may select 9.01 from the Departmental Program.  

Laboratory Requirement (1 subject)
The Laboratory Requirement can be satisfied by 9.12, 9.17, 9.59, or 9.63 in the Departmental Program.

Note: No subject can be counted as part of the 17-subject GIRs and as part of the 180 units required beyond the GIRs. Every subject in the Departmental Program will count toward one or the other, but not both.

Double counting

The 14 required subjects for the Course 9 major may overlap with GIRs. For example:

  • 9.01 is a REST subject (but only one departmental requirement can count as a REST). 
  • Subjects 9.00, 9.20, and 9.85 are all HASS subjects 
  • 9.12, 9.17, 9.59J and 9.63 are Institute labs. 

Please note that up to three HASS subjects, including 9.00, can count both as Course 9 requirements and as GIRs.

Restricted Electives

Here you will find the Department's current list of restricted electives:

2.003J Dynamics and Control
2.184 Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement
5.07J Biological Chemistry 1 (or 7.05 – NOT both)
5.12 Organic Chemistry 1
5.13 Organic Chemistry II
6.003 Signals and Systems
6.034 Artificial Intelligence
6.045J Automata, Computability, & Complexity
6.046 Design and Analysis of Algorithms
6.141 Robotics: Science and Systems I
7.03 Genetics
7.05 General Biochemistry (or 5.07 – NOT both)
18.03 Differential Equations
18.034 Differential Equations
18.06 Linear Algebra
18.404J Theory of Computation
18.515 Mathematical Logic
20.309 Instrumentation and Measurement for Biological Systems
24.211 Theory of Knowledge
24.900 Introduction to Linguistics
24.901 Language and It’s Structure I: Phonology
24.902 Language and It’s Structure II: Syntax
24.903 Language and It’s Structure III: Semantics and Pragmatics
24.904 Language Acquisition


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

If you have questions about the process of becoming a UROP, don’t hesitate to contact our UROP Coordinator, Jillian Auerbach in BCS’s Academic Office. Email:,
Phone: (617) 253-0482
Office: 46-2005L