The interdisciplinary nature of cognitive science supports a wide variety of career applications. This course of study can prepare students for graduate work or serve as a foundation for entering the job market. These are just a few of the potential fields and industries graduates can explore.
One of the most obvious career directions for graduates, technology is a fast-growing field that offers a wide variety of paths. An understanding of human cognition–especially behavior and reasoning—helps computer programmers and software engineers design and create hardware, apps, and smart objects that are intuitive, user-friendly, equitable, and ethical. For those interested in working on research and applications for artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is particularly valuable.
Academia and Research
Individuals with a formal background in cognitive science can help continue to advance the field and pursue their intellectual interest by engaging in research and studies that support new insights, uncover additional avenues of focus, and lead to innovative applications that can change our world. Scholars can also cultivate the next generation of cognitive science experts by teaching in university programs like this one.
Understanding how the mind works has significant implications for helping people learn. As the nature of work continues to evolve and workers require retraining or supplementary education, there will be a need for experts able to combine an understanding of human cognition with pedagogy and learning theory to design effective educational programs and lessons. These can include university degrees and courses, professional training modules and certifications, and technical or trade training programs.
The cognitive implications of diseases, conditions, and disabilities are a growing area of focus in medicine and healthcare, especially as an aging population becomes prone to dementia and illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic produces more patients with troubling cognitive symptoms seemingly related to brain function.
As a result, both general physicians and specialists can benefit from an understanding of cognitive health, such as memory, speed, visual-spatial ability, executive function, and language. Cognitive science can also support studies in psychiatry to develop a greater understanding of the causes, mechanisms, and treatment of mental illness.
Clinical Psychology and Therapy
As in psychiatry, a background in cognitive science can support careers involving the clinical treatment of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders with an understanding of human perception, decision-making, motivation, information processing, and more.
The workings of human cognition have immense significance for everything from explaining economic behaviors on both an individual and collective level to geographical, demographic, and historical trends. Cognitive science can economists help build more powerful models of behavior, social interaction, and cognitive processes for analysis.
Advertising, Marketing, and Communication
Understanding why consumers and other audiences make the choices they do is key to positioning products and services effectively in a competitive marketplace and an increasingly noisy social landscape. A foundation in cognitive science can be used to enhance personalized messaging, appeal to limited attention spans, and effectively leverage new media and technologies for communication.