Why do students need to apply to the major?

Unlike most majors at Yale, Cognitive Science requires students to apply and be accepted to the major. There are several reasons for this:

  1. By encompassing so many disciplines, cognitive science presents fantastic opportunities for interdisciplinary studies, but also some dangers. In particular, with so much breadth comes the danger that students’ study programs will lack cohesiveness, being a somewhat haphazard collection of unrelated courses. The application process ensures that this is not the case (see How are applications evaluated?).
  2. Similarly, the cognitive science major can appeal to students for the wrong reasons  e.g. because students don’t know what to major in, and cognitive science seems to afford more flexibility than usual. In contrast, we seek majors who have particular ideas about how to craft a focused interdisciplinary plan of study in this area that cannot be satisfied by one of the standard majors. The application essay is designed to assess such things.
  3. Though many courses may count for the major, these choices can only be evaluated in the context of an overall course plan, in order to avoid several pitfalls. These course plans are evaluated as part of the application (again, see How are applications evaluated?).
  4. Because cognitive science requires mastery of so many different approaches and disciplines, it fits best with students who are able to perform well in many different kinds of classes. The application process thus includes an evaluation of students’ academic performance so far at Yale.