What is Honors in the Major?
The honors program allows highly motivated undergraduate cognitive science majors to receive additional mentoring, professional development, and research supervision. To graduate with honors in the major, students must have a 3.5 major GPA at the time of graduation, and have completed either COGS 308 (Advanced Research Workshop I, offered every fall) OR COGS 309 (Advanced Research Workshop II, offered every spring) with a final grade of A. Only 5-8 undergraduate students are permitted to enroll in these courses each semester.
How to become an honors student
COGS 308 and 309 are enrollment via instructor permission only. In both courses, students will develop a research topic (theoretical or empirical), and work on it with the input of other workshop members to produce final papers. Students who want to be in the honors program must follow this process:
1. Make sure you meet the following requirements: You are a cognitive science major, and you can achieve a 3.5 major GPA by the time you graduate. (If you’re not sure about your GPA, use your SIS records and a GPA calculator to see what grades you’d have to earn to meet that requirement.)
2. Choose a sponsor. Your sponsor must be a faculty member in the department of cognitive science, and must know your work well enough to recommend you for the honors program. See this page for a list of faculty members. Both “faculty” and “affiliated faculty” can serve as sponsors!
3. Contact that faculty member well in advance of the enrollment period for 308/309 with a request for a recommendation for the honors program. We encourage you to provide a link to this page and to refer her or him to FAQ #8. This recommendation can be as simple as “Yes, I recommend you for the honors program.” The sponsor can provide additional input on the work you do for 308/309, but the sponsor’s role is simply to determine whether or not you fit the profile of a highly motivated undergraduate cognitive science major who will be able to achieve honors in the major.
4. Once you have a sponsor’s recommendation, contact the instructor of 308 or 309 asking for permission to enroll in the course. Include a) a copy of your sponsor’s recommendation (e.g., an email), b) a sentence describing the research area you plan to explore, c) an unofficial transcript, and d) an explanation of why you want to take the course that semester (e.g., I’m graduating, I’m going abroad, etc.).
5. Use SIS to request permission to enroll in COGS 308 or 309. The instructor of the course will review your materials and either grant the permission so you can enroll in the course or contact you explaining why permission has not been granted.
1. How is the honors program different from a capstone? The capstone is a SAGES requirement that all undergraduates must fulfill in order to graduate. COGS majors can do a capstone in any department. 308/309 does NOT replace the capstone–honors students must take 308 or 309 and complete a capstone. The work students do for 308/309 must be new work, but students can work on a topic related to their capstone work. For example, a student might write a theoretical paper summarizing an area of research and proposing an empirical study to fulfill the requirements of 308/309, then carry out that study for her capstone research.
2. Can I do the honors program and the capstone at the same time? Absolutely! Students who are doing the two in the same semester or sequential semesters should work with the 308/309 instructor and their capstone supervisor to figure out how to best use the student’s time. You can work on related or entirely different topics for the two requirements.
3. What happens if I’ve taken COGS 308 or 309 and earned an A, but don’t have a 3.5 GPA when I graduate? You will not be awarded honors in the major.
4. Do COGS 308 or 309 fulfill any requirements? These courses count as general COGS electives or general social science electives.
5. Can I take COGS 308 or 309 if I don’t want to be in the honors program? Yes. Students interested in the honors program will receive priority for enrollment, so you may not be able to enroll in the course in a given semester.
6. Can I take both COGS 308 and 309? Yes. Students who need to take the courses to be eligible for honors in the major will receive priority for enrollment, so you may not be able to enroll in the course in a given semester.
7. When should I take COGS 308 or 309? The optimal time is junior or senior year, after you have acquired a solid background in cognitive science. We also strongly encourage students to take 308 or 309 before the capstone, so that the course can be used to produce a higher quality capstone. However, there are no prerequisites for 308 or 309, which means that you can take the course at any time.
8. What does the honors sponsor do? The sponsor can provide additional input on the work you do for 308/309, but the sponsor’s role is simply to determine whether or not you fit the profile of a highly motivated undergraduate cognitive science major who will be able to achieve honors in the major, and provide a recommendation.This recommendation can be as simple as: “Yes, I recommend you for the honors program.” Some students may work closely with the sponsor and instructor of 308/309, while others may not work with the sponsor at all. The sponsor may be the same person as the student’s capstone supervisor, or may be someone else.