Career Exploration

What can I do with a Cognitive Science degree?

There is no limit to what you can do with a B.A. in Cognitive Science. In fact, this degree is great for students who have eclectic interests and may want to have several different career options available to them. 

Most commonly, students with a degree in cognitive science go on to pursue fields such as machine learning, human centered (UX) design, software design/development, etc. They may also go on to pursue advanced degrees in cognitive science, neuroscience, computer science, etc. Others may go on to attain professional degrees such as medicine or law. The options are as endless and wide as the imagination itself. 

Historically, Cal students in this major have gone on to become: 

  • Therapists
  • Teachers
  • Research analysts
  • Product developers/designers
  • UX designers
  • Software developers
  • Linguistic analysts
  • Data analysts
  • HR specialists
  • Founders of their own start-ups

And those looking to continue their education by getting an advanced degree (i.e., M.A. or Ph.D.) have gone into programs such as: 

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Cognitive Science
  • AI and Robotics
  • Computer Engineering
  • Education Neurobiology
  • Law School
  • Medical School

As you can see, there is a wide variety of careers and continuing education that one can pursue with a B.A. in cognitive science. It really depends on your specific interests and how you want to apply what you have learned to your career. Check out the Career Center's First Destination Surveys to see where our students go. 

What if I change my mind? How will I know if I'm qualified for my new field?

To determine whether or not you have the experience necessary for a particular field would be to research, research, research. By finding the job description(s) of your dream, you can identify the skills and qualifications that are required for the position. It is also important to note that you do not have to hit every job requirement perfectly––e.g., if a position requires someone with a psych background and you have focused your CogSci degree in psychology, you can illustrate that with your cover letter. As students with an interdisciplinary degree, you may have to get creative with how you are able to market yourself and this may make you a stronger candidate in the long run. 

Moreover, if you are interested in continuing your education in a field different from cognitive science you may not necessarily need to change your major or get another bachelor’s degree. Again, research different programs to see if what they are looking for in prospective students. Some programs may not even want you to have a relevant background (e.g., some counseling psychology Ph.D. programs would prefer their students to have a background in a non-psychology field; one way to find out whether or not a program will admit students with a similar background you can ask, “Historically, what have been the undergraduate majors of students admitted to this program?”). Where other programs may have pre-requisite courses (e.g., medical schools often require specific courses before entry, however they do not require a degree in biology related fields––in fact, some programs even encourage students from variant educational backgrounds), you may still be able to fulfill these requirements through post-baccalaureate programs designed to prepare you for your next steps. There are so many paths to take!

The possibilities are broad and endless. 

How the Tang Center’s Career Counseling Library can help you:

One way to help you figure out what career may be right for you would be to go over a career assessment with the career counseling interns at the Tang Center. There, they can help you identify what careers may be potentially satisfying and clarify what you want from your career. 

  • Career Counseling Library - signing up for a account is a great way to explore career options and how to get there. It also has a list of programs for different degrees in the U.S. (if you are looking to study abroad for your M.A. or PhD, you will need to search elsewhere).