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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

Prof. Arun Ross was one of four panelists in a BBC Newshour Extra program titled Facing the Future, moderated by journalist Owen Bennet Jones. The panel discussed advancements made from automated face recognition and also personal privacy and biometrics. [link]

Prof. William Hartmann was awarded the 2017 Acoustical Society of America (ASA) Gold Medal for his contributions to the field of acoustics. His research has dealt with the perceptual analysis of sounds from varying sources, processing pitch, how humans localize sounds in space, and more. [link]

Profs. Devin McAuley and Natalie Phillips received an NSF Grant, The Role of Narrative in Music Perception, to study the factors which shape narrative listening to music and the relationship between narrative listening and other aspects of musical perception. [link]

Prof. Arun Ross and his colleague from NYU have had their research on the security of mobile fingerprint scanning featured in The New York Times, MSU Today, Popular Science, Homeland Security News Wire, and Science 360 News.

Professors Arun Ross, Xiaoming Liu, and Anil Jain received a 4-year grant from IARPA to conduct research on Presentation Attack Detection for fingerprint, face and iris biometric systems. [link]

CSE student Thomas Swearingen and his adviser Prof. Arun Ross won the runner up award for best paper at ISBA 2017. [link]

Research on laptop use and classroom learning by Prof. Susan Ravizza, Mitchell Uitvlugt, and Prof. Kim Fenn was featured in US News, BYU Radio, The Conversation, and numerous higher education journals [1, 2, 3, 4].

Prof. Cristina Schmitt received an NSF Grant, Effects of Variation and Variability in the Acquisition of Two Dialects of Spanish, to study first language acquisition of Spanish in the context of variability caused by contact between two very different varieties of Spanish: Paraguayan Spanish, which is heavily influenced by Guaraní (an indigenous language), and Rioplatense Spanish (spoken in Buenos Aires). [link]

Prof. Aline Godfroid received a Language Learning Early Career Research Grant for her validation project on "Measuring implicit and explicit L2 knowledge: Synthesizing 12 years of research."

Prof. 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.

For older news, check out our news archive here.