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Cognitive Science Graduate Certificate

The Cognitive Science Certificate Steering Committee administers the certificate program and considers student requests to join the program. Current members are:
Kyle Cave, Psychology, convenor
Jane Baran, Communication Disorders
Roderick Grupen, Computer Science
Lyn Frazier, Linguistics
Hilary Kornblith, Philosophy

The Program

Cognitive Science, the study of cognitive systems, cuts across a variety of traditional disciplines. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the departments of Communication Disorders, Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology are most heavily involved in cognitive science. Other members of the Five College consortium—Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith colleges—also provide rich offerings in cognitive science and their faculty often participate in training university graduate students.

Pioneering work in cognitive science depends on identifying new questions and approaching them in novel ways. Although this can be done within the bounds of a traditional discipline, contact with related disciplines may serve as a catalyst. It may equip researchers with the skills needed to take on issues at greater depth than would be possible with a single discipline, and contact with faculty and students in other departments often has unforeseen benefits to all involved.

The Cognitive Science Certificate promotes interdepartmental contact in a self-designed, flexible but coherent program that draws on the academic strengths of the university and the interests and talents of individual students. Further information about the program is available online at


Matriculated graduate students at the master’s or Ph.D. level in the university departments of Communication Disorders, Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology can complete the requirements of the Graduate Certificate Program in Cognitive Science and receive formal recognition of such completion. Matriculated graduate students in other departments may petition the Cognitive Science Certificate Steering Committee for admission to the program. Program requirements are:

a) Students must take 15 credits of approved graduate courses in one or more departments other than their major degree department, selected from the offerings of the departments of Communication Disorders, Computer Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. A list of suitable courses is available from the steering committee or the Cognitive Science website. Students may appeal to the steering committee to substitute up to six credits of courses for courses on this list. Such appeals must be accompanied by persuasive rationales for the substitutions and must be approved by a majority of the steering committee.

b) Up to six of the 15 credits may be earned for conducting original research outside the student’s major department.

c) Students must submit a plan of study to the steering committee as early as possible in their graduate career. They must have completed no more than nine credits of coursework toward the certificate when the plan of study is submitted.

The plan of study must specify a cohesive package of courses to be taken and provide a rationale for the particular selection of courses by demonstrating how the courses constitute a coherent approach to cognitive science. The plan of study must also designate a member of the graduate faculty as a certificate adviser and the adviser must indicate his or her approval of the plan of study.

d) The steering committee must review each student’s accomplishments at or before the time that the student receives his or her terminal degree and, if the student has fulfilled the requirements, vote to award the certificate.

e) The Cognitive Science Certificate will be awarded only at the time the student receives his or her terminal degree in his or her major department.

For further information, contact any member of the steering committee or visit the website