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CIS Undergraduate Honors Program

Honors Program

The honors program in cognitive science provides students with the opportunity to work hands-on with a faculty member to conduct their own independent research project. Students completing the honors program with a high-quality thesis will graduate from UC Merced with honors and highest honors may be designated for particularly outstanding theses, including the UC Merced Glushko Prize for a Senior Thesis in Cognitive Science.

Applications to begin the honors program in Fall are due April 1 of the previous academic year.


  • Major in Cognitive Science

  • Major GPA of 3.50 or greater

  • Passed COGS 001 and 105

  • Completed COGS 191 with at least an A-

Approximate Timeline

Junior Year (Spring)

  • Complete all prerequisite course requirements

  • Identify thesis topic and a member of the CIS faculty (“faculty supervisor”) who agrees to supervise the thesis project

  • Enroll in COGS 191

  • Conduct literature review of identified thesis topic and write research proposal

  • Submit application by April 1

Summer between Junior and Senior Year

  • Design & finalize research study design with faculty supervisor

  • Submit project protocol to Institutional Review Board (if applicable)

Senior Year (Fall)

  • Enroll in: COGS 195 or COGS 199

  • Begin data collection/analysis

  • Check in with Honors program mentor (graduate student representative to the Cognitive Science Student Association)

Senior Year (Spring)

  • Enroll in: COGS 195 or COGS 199

  • Complete data collection/analysis

  • Write thesis and submit to faculty supervisor for feedback

  • Give an academic talk presenting the honors research at the end-of-year Cognitive Science Research Conference

  • Submit final honors thesis for approval by the CIS Honors Program Committee (by the last day of instruction for the semester)

Associated Coursework

COGS-191 - Senior Cognitive Science Thesis

  • Juniors enrolled in this course will develop a research project proposal, which may have been initiated in another course or lab experience, and can serve as a thesis proposal for the senior thesis research to be completed during their upcoming senior year. This course covers elements such as writing style for a research project and how to present research results in various areas of cognitive science (theoretical work, computer models, behavioral analyses, etc.).

COGS-195/199 – Upper Division Undergraduate Research/ Individual Study

  • Students applying to the Honors Program are expected to be a research apprentice in the laboratory of their intended faculty sponsor. Students are strongly advised to begin planning their research project in the spring of their junior year. In addition, students will continue to be a research apprentice in the laboratory during their senior year.

  • Students should be enrolled in COGS 195 or COGS 199 in the Fall and Spring semesters.

How to Apply

Students seeking to apply for the Cognitive Science Honors Program will be required to identify and contact potential faculty supervisors to discuss possible research projects no later than spring of their Junior year (as part of COGS 191).

  • Faculty Supervisor

    • Enrollment in the Honors Program requires that a faculty member formally agree to supervise the research conduct of the undergraduate student. In certain instances, a graduate student may be allowed to assist in the supervision of an undergraduate student, but a faculty member must be officially listed as responsible for the research conduct of the undergraduate student. The undergraduate student and supervising faculty member will complete and submit the application provided below.

  • Proposal (written in COGS191)

  • Detailed Project Timeline

  • Unofficial transcript

  • Completed required coursework

  • To apply, please submit the completed application form, a copy of your unofficial transcript, and a thesis proposal by e-mail to the Undergraduate Program Chair.