Cognitive Systems (BSc)

at UBC's

Vancouver Campus

This Science program provides you with a grounding in the principles and techniques used by intelligent systems, both natural and artificial. It emphasizes the study of existing systems (i.e., linguistics), the design of new ones (i.e., machine intelligence), and the design of interfaces between different forms of intelligent agents. You can choose to specialize in either Cognition and the Brain, or Computational Intelligence and Design.

Why this program?

  • Use tools from computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology to study the basis of human thought, its development, and the ways in which it can be used effectively.
  • Gain skills that you can use in academic, industrial, and governmental and non-governmental organizations to help make the world a better place.
  • Establish deep and broad foundations on which to build an understanding of the mind.
Visit program website

Program information

  • Campus: Vancouver
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science
  • Degree: Bachelor of Science
  • Length 4 yrs
  • Co-op Yes
    You can combine your studies with full-time, paid work at top local and international organizations.
  • Honours No
    You can study intense specialization in a single field.

Cognitive Systems sits at the intersection of computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. It is the study of the systems that enable people to think, of the systems that can help and hinder our thinking, and of the artificial systems in which something like cognition is accomplished.

We teach, use, and re-conceptualize the most important and in-demand tools of the 21st century: the tools that every organization, business, and government is hoping to benefit from. We know how to understand data, and we know that data never speak for themselves. We know how to design effective cognitive systems, and we understand the ethical complexities of doing so.

As a student in the Cognitive Systems program, you’ll have hands-on research experiences that will equip you to work at the outer limits of scientific understanding, pushing to increase knowledge of those aspects of human nature that have proved most resistant to scientific explanation.

Life at UBC's Vancouver campus

UBC's Cognitive Systems program covers dangerous and powerful ideas. You'll encounter the most ancient of philosophical enquiries and the most recently developed branches of computational engineering. You'll learn how this knowledge can be used as a force for change

Find out more

Your future

As a Cognitive Systems graduate, you’ll be equipped with the skills and knowledge required to put information to work for the human good: you’ll have an understanding of information, an understanding of the human, and an understanding of the good. Strong, multidisciplinary foundations established through the Cognitive Systems program will provide you with a unique, multifaceted perspective and prepare you to think flexibly. Cognitive Systems graduates are in demand in any number of professions in which computer science, the human mind, and other complex systems interact.

Program graduates

  • Founder and CEO, PatentPal
  • Data Science Consultant, Cardinal Path
  • Business Intelligence Consultant, Visier
  • Software Engineer, Microsoft

Program requirements

English-language requirements

English is the language of instruction at UBC. All prospective students must demonstrate English-language competency prior to admission. There are numerous ways to meet the English Language Admission Standard.

General admission requirements

IB Diploma Programme

  • Completed IB Diploma, including at least three Higher Level courses.

IB Certificate Courses

  • IB Certificate courses (Standard and Higher Level) may be used in an admissions average if you are graduating from a recognized high school curriculum that can be used as your basis of admission.
  • IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL, or IB Math Studies, do not satisfy the math requirement for admission to UBC’s science-based programs, the Faculty of Management, the UBC Sauder School of Business, or the Vancouver School of Economics.

Degree-specific requirements: Science

  • IB Math Analysis and Approaches SL or HL, or IB Math Applications and Interpretations HL (IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL, or IB Math Studies, are not acceptable)
  • One of IB Biology, IB Chemistry, or IB Physics
  • Grade 11 or equivalent Chemistry, and
  • Grade 11 or equivalent Physics (may be waived with grades of 5 in IB Chemistry and in your IB Mathematics course)

Note: Grade 11 Chemistry and Physics requirements listed are only relevant to students who are not completing the equivalent IB Diploma Chemistry and/or Physics courses.

For students studying outside of Canada, some examples of courses that may be accepted as Grade 11 equivalents are junior-level courses for American students, and IGCSE and O Level for those following British-patterned curricula.

Related courses

The following subject categories are particularly relevant for this degree. Consider taking courses in these areas in your junior year and senior year.

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics and Computation
  • Sciences
Visit program website