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Michigan State UniversityCognitive Science Program

FAQ - Interdepartmental Undergraduate Minor in Cognitive Science

What is cognitive science?

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes, whether embodied in the biological stuff of neurons in a brain, or in the silicon stuff of computer chips in an artificial brain-like system. Cognitive science encompasses multiple disciplines, including psychology, computer science, neuroscience, linguistics, zoology, education, and philosophy.

Why would I want a minor in cognitive science?

A minor in cognitive science is a good idea for a number of reasons. Taking courses and being involved in research in fields outside of your major will broaden your educational experience and give you valuable interdisciplinary research training. You will be exposed to different ways of thinking and problem solving that may give you novel insight in your major discipline. Having the cognitive science minor on your transcript will highlight these factors to future employers and graduate schools.

What does the Cognitive Science Program do throughout the year?

Along with offering an undergraduate and graduate course on cognitive science, PSY/LIN/ZOL 463 and 867 respectively, the Cognitive Science Program hosts a number of events bringing researchers from other schools to MSU, as well as events to share the research of different members of the cognitive science program. One of the largest events is the Distinguished Speaker Series.

How do I declare the undergraduate minor in cognitive science?

Send an email to the undergraduate adviser for Cognitive Science, Cindy Walter ( that includes your full name, PID and primary major. You should also schedule an appointment or come to her walk-in advising hours to discuss the requirements. Her contact information can also be found here.

Is there a deadline for applications?

No. You can declare the minor whenever you want. It is best to do it as early as possible, however, to give yourself enough time to complete the requirements.

What majors can enroll in the minor?

MSU undergraduate students from any department can declare the minor.

What are the requirements of the minor?

The Academic Program's list of minor requirements can be found here.

Can I double count courses for my major or another minor with those for the cognitive science minor?

Double counting courses may be possible with the minor. Please check with your academic adviser for approval, as this can vary by department.

If I don't see a specific class listed on the website, can it count towards the minor?

If you believe a specific class may be suitable for the minor, please email The list of approved classes listed here will certainly count, but should not be considered comprehensive. From time to time, other courses that are in the domain of cognitive science are offered, but not necessarily listed on the website. The only way to know if an unlisted course can count is to ask.

I took some cognitive science courses before I enrolled in the minor, will they still count?


Some of the approved cognitive science courses have prerequisites. Do I need to take them first?

Yes, unless you have approval from the instructor or department to have the prerequisites waived.

Who should I contact with questions?

Questions regarding the undergraduate minor should be sent to or to the undergraduage adviser, Cindy Walter, at

Who are the faculty members associated with the minor?

The faculty members affiliated with the Cognitive Science Program are listed here.
MSU CogSci in the News and Announcements

Dr. Mark Becker has published five papers so far this year in Perception,Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance,Packaging Technology and Science,Visual Cognition, and Applied Ergonomics.

Sunpreet Arora and Anil Jain were part of a team that won Best Paper at BioSig 2016 for their paper titled "3D Whole Hand Targets: Evaluating Slap and Contactless Fingerprint Readers".

Dr. Anil Jain was part of a team that won Best Poster at BioSig 2016 for a poster titled "Advances in Capturing Child Fingerprints: A High Resolution CMOS Image Sensor with SLDR Method".

Dr. Anil Jain and Dr. Arun Ross were awarded a three-year NSF grant under the Secure & Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program for their proposal entitled "Imparting Privacy to Biometric Data in Cyberspace".

Dr. Arun Ross (with Dr. Nasir Memon, NYU) was awarded a three-year NSF grant for their project entitled "The Master Print: Investigating and Addressing Vulnerabilities in Fingerprint-based Authentication Systems".

Science writer Carl Sherman's story on stuttering for the Dana Foundation website, titled Seeking Clues to Stuttering Deep Within the Brain, featured research by Prof. Devin McAuley.

Summer 2016
Dr. Mark Becker was invited by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to present his work investigating individual differences in cognition and personality that predict rare target detection at their Workshop on Developing Personnel Selection Tools for Forensic Scientists.

Summer 2016
Prof. Mark Reimers and colleague Bruce McNaughton received an NSF grant to study the dynamics of hippocampal-cortical communication during memory formation and recall.

Summer 2016
Prof. Susan Ravizza became a senior editor for the journal Brain Research.

Summer 2016
Prof. Mark Reimers received a Templeton Foundation grant to study the molecular coherence of genetic variants related to behavioral traits, including IQ.

Prof. Kim Fenn did an interview with Michigan Radio about the link between sleep deprivation and false confessions. You can listen to the story here.

Prof. Devin McAuley and colleagues' research on stuttering has been featured in a piece by WLNS. You can watch the video and read the story here.

Prof. Kim Fenn and colleagues recently had their sleep deprivation and false confession study featured in Time magazine, CBS news, IFLS, and on the subreddit /r/news.

Prof. William Hartmann and colleagues published their study "Transaural experiments and a revised duplex theory for the localization of low-frequency tones" in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Prof. Carol Myers-Scotton, adjunct professor in MSU's linguistics department, published a chapter in The Cambridge handbook of bilingual processing titled "Cross-language asymmetries in code-switching patterns, implications for bilingual language profuction."

Prof. Susan Ravizza's recent work on students' technology use in the classroom was featured in an article on Healthline.

Prof. Mark Reimers is leading an NSF-funded working group on data analysis for the new BRAIN technologies.

Prof. Jeremy Gray was co-author on a recent publication in Science, “Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science”.

Recent graduate Mina Hirzel was awarded the Baggett Fellowship, a one year post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the University of Maryland, College Park. Mina was an undergraduate researcher in the MSU Language Acquisition Lab for two and a half years.

For older news, check out our news archive here.