Cognitive Science Graduate Certificate

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 heavily involved in cognitive science. Pioneering work in cognitive science depends on identifying new questions and approaching these questions in novel ways. Although this can be done within the boundaries of a traditional discipline, contact with individuals from related disciplines can provide students and researchers with the skills needed to explore important issues in cognition and cognitive science in greater depth than would be possible within the limits of a single discipline. In addition, the contact with faculty and students in other departments afforded by participating in this interdisciplinary program often has unforeseen benefits to all involved. 

The Cognitive Science Certificate was designed to promote this type of interdepartmental collaboration through student participation in a flexible but coherent program that draws on the academic strengths of the University and the interests and talents of individual students. 

A steering committee composed of faculty representatives from each of the departments listed above administers the certificate program and considers student requests to participate in the program. Current members of the Cognitive Science Steering Committee include: 

  • Andrew Cohen, Psychology, Committee Chair
  • Jane Baran, Communication Disorders
  • Roderick Grupen, Computer Science
  • Lyn Frazier, Linguistics
  • Hilary Kornblith, Philosophy 


Matriculated graduate students at the master's or Ph.D. level in the 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 their completion of this program. Matriculated graduate students in other departments may petition the Cognitive Science Certificate Steering Committee for admission to the program. Program requirements are: 

  • 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 Cognitive Science website. Students may appeal to the steering committee to substitute up to six credits of course work 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. In addition, up to six of the 15 credits may be earned for conducting original research outside the student's major department.
  • Students must submit a plan of study to the steering committee as early as possible in their graduate careers. 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 the adviser for the student's certificate program and the adviser must indicate his or her approval of the plan of study. 

  • The steering committee must review each student's accomplishments prior to the time that the student receives his or her terminal degree and, if the student has fulfilled the requirements, vote to award the certificate.
  • 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 Cognitive Science website.