Academics / Undergraduate program


Have you ever wondered how your mind works? How do babies see the world, or how do they learn to walk? Do you wonder why you remember some things and forget others? Or how you coordinate your movements? How do you see and why do your eyes sometimes fool you? How do intelligence or language develop from infancy? How do all of your thoughts and emotions arise out of the activity of your brain? The faculty and students in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences are trying to answer these and other fundamental questions concerning intelligent processes and brain organization. To this end, the department focuses on two main themes: (1) cellular and systems neuroscience, and (2) cognitive science. The field of cognitive neuroscience combines both themes.

Current Research

The research in the department integrates a broad spectrum of disciplines including neuroscience, biology, psychology, linguistics, and artificial intelligence. Some areas include: studying the brain from molecules through neurons and neuronal systems; exploring the perception, thinking, and behavior of people; investigating the development of the brain and of human cognitive capacities, including the acquisition of language; using computers to model intelligence; uncovering the rules governing thought; the chemistry and physiology of the brain; and most importantly, discovering how the brain gives rise to the mind.

After Graduation

The majority of people who major in Brain and Cognitive Sciences attend graduate school, in fields such as medicine, neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, or computer science. Some attend law or business school. With or without advanced degrees, majors work in a diverse array of careers, as researchers and professors, in telecommunications, financial advising, human resources and human relations, counseling, teaching K through 12, ergonomics, environmental design, robotics, AI.

Learning About the Department

Seminars: Regular seminars and talks are given, including a department colloquium on Thursdays at 4 pm in 46-3002. Check out the BCS website here.

IAP: Independent Activities Period subjects are offered every January. See the MIT IAP website for information on specific listings.


BCS Undergraduate Office: 46-2005, 617-253-0482
BCS Undergraduate Administrator: Susan Lanza,
BCS Undergraduate Officer: Prof. Laura Schulz,
BCS Academic Administrator: TBD see Pia Handsom

General Institute Requirements

A total of 17 subjects, broken down as follows:

Science Requirement (6 Subjects)

At present, no subjects from the Departmental Program fulfill the Science Requirement.

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences(8 Subjects)

To fulfill your HASS Concentration, you may only double count 9.00, as part of your Course 9 requirements.

REST Requirement (2 Subjects)

You may select 9.01 from the Departmental Program as part of the REST Requirement.

Laboratory Requirement (1 Subject)

The Laboratory Requirement can be satisfied by 9.02 / 9.17, 9.12, 9.59, 9.61^ or 9.63 in the Departmental Program.

NOTE: NO SUBJECT can be counted BOTH 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.

Revised Course 9 Requirements

***(EFFECTIVE FALL 2013) ***

Tier 1 Subjects
(all five subjects required):
Transfer credit will not be given for 9.00, 9.01 or 9.40.

Term Course # Title Prerequisites
FA & SP 6.00 Introduction to Computer Science and Programming 12, REST
SP 9.00 Introduction to Psychological Science 12, HASS-S
FA 9.01 Introduction to Neuroscience 12, REST Physics II (GIR)
SP 9.40 Introduction to Neural Computation 12; 6.00, 9.01











Probabilistic Systems Analysis


Introduction to Probability and Statistics


Probability and Random Variables

12, REST; Calculus II


12, REST; Calculus I


12, REST; Calculus II


Tier 2 Subjects (three subjects required; up to seven may be taken):

Term Course # Title Prerequisites
FA 9.04 Sensory Systems 12; 9.01
SP 9.09J Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 12; 7.05
SP 9.10 Behavioral Neuroscience 12; 9.01
SP 9.14 Brain Structure and Its Origins 12; 9.01



Neuromodulatory and Neuroendocrine Systems

12; 9.40
FA 9.16 Cellular Neurophysiology 12; 9.40
SP 9.18J Developmental Neurobiology 12, CI-M; 9.01
FA 9.20 Animal Behavior 12, HASS-S; 9.00
FA 9.31 Neurophysiology of Learning And Memory 12; 9.01
SP 9.35 Sensation and Perception 12; 9.40
FA 9.54 Computational Aspects of Biological Learning 12; 9.40
SP 9.65 Cognitive Processes 12, HASS-S; 9.00
FA 9.66J Computational Cognitive Science 12; 9.40


Infant and Early Childhood Cognition

12, HASS-S, CI-M; 9.00


Tier 3 Subjects (up to four subjects):

Term Course # Title Prerequisites
SP 9.24 Disorders and Diseases of the Nervous System 12; 9.00, 9.01, 9.09
SP 9.26J Principles and Applications of Genetic Engineering for Biotechnology and Neuroscience 12; 7.28, 9.01
SP 9.46 Neuroscience of Morality 12, CI-M; 9.00, 9.01, 9.10
FA 9.56J Abnormal Language 12, HASS-S; 24.900



Language Acquisition

12, HASS-S; 24.900

FA 9.71 Functional MRI Investigations of the Human Brain 12, CI-M; 9.40


Laboratory (one subject required):

Term Course # Title Prerequisites
FA 9.12 Experimental Molecular Neurobiology 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.01 Biology GIR
SP 9.17 Systems Neuroscience Laboratory 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.40
SP 9.59J Laboratory in Psycholinguistics 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.00
SP 9.63 Laboratory in Visual Cognition 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.00, 9.40


Research (one subject required):
Laboratory cannot be double counted

Term Course # Title Prerequisites
FA 9.12 Experimental Molecular Neurobiology 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.01 Biology GIR
SP 9.17 Systems Neuroscience Laboratory 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.40
FA 9.41 Research and Communication in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science permission of Instructor, 18, CI-M; 9.URG
FA & SP 9.50 Research in Brain and Cognitive 12, 9.00; permission of Sciences Instructor
SP 9.59J Laboratory in Psycholinguistics 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.00
SP 9.63 Laboratory in Visual Cognition 12, LAB, CI-M; 9.00, 9.40
FA, SP, IAP 9.URG Undergraduate Research 12


Restricted Electives

Up to FOUR may be counted towards degree requirements:

Course # Course Title
2.003J Dynamics and Control
2.184 Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement
5.07J Biological Chemistry I (or 7.05-NOT both)
5.12 Organic Chemistry I
6.003 Signals and Systems
6.034 Artificial Intelligence
6.045J Automata, Computability, and Complexity
6.801 Machine Vision
7.03 Genetics
7.05 Genera Biochemistry (or 5.07- NOT both)
18.03 Differential Equations
18.034 Differential Equations
18.06 Linear Algebra
18.404J Theory of Computation
18.510 Mathematical Logic and Set Theory
18.511 Mathematical Logic and Recursion Theory
20.309 Instrumentation and Measurement for Biological Systems
24.211 Theory of Knowledge
24.900 Introduction to Linguistics
24.901 Language and its Structure I: Phonology
24.902 Language and its Structure II: Syntax
24.903 Language and its Structure III: Semantics

In addition, any graduate subject in Course 9 that is approved both by the advisor and by the course instructor may be taken as a restricted elective (Note that a graduate subject may substitute for a required undergraduate subject that covers the same material – but graduate and undergraduate versions of the same subject cannot both be taken).

Double Counting

The 14 required subjects for the Course 9 major may overlap with your GIRs: for example, 9.01 is a REST subject (but only one departmental requirement can count as a REST); 9.00 is a HASS; 9.02 / 9.17, 9.12, 9.61 and 9.63 are Institute labs; and several other Course 9 subjects are HASS subjects (only a total of 3 HASS subjects, including 9.00, can count both as Course 9 requirements and as GIRs).

It is also acceptable to count 9.00 toward both the Course 9 major and a HASS Concentration in Psychology.

If you are a double degree major candidate, there are no restrictions in double-counting for the two majors.

If you are a double major candidate there are no restrictions in double-counting for the two majors but you may not combine a Course 9 degree with Course 21S.