Today was supposed to be my first day of lab work in our new lab space in the gorgeous new building, but it’s taking longer to get the lab up and running than everyone thought it would, so I decided to come home between classes and write an entry about the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department instead. (There are not so many good pictures on that link to the new building. Perhaps I will take some later this week.)
Brain and Cognitive Sciences (or BCS, or course 9) is a small-to-moderately sized department in the School of Science. There are usually about 30-40 undergrads per class year in course 9, although I think that number has been steadily rising as the brain has gotten more trendy over the past few years. Upper-division classes tend to be small (20-30 people), and grades are often based on tests and written work (although some classes give problem sets instead of papers). There is often a significant amount of assigned reading.
In order to graduate with a degree in course 9, there is a rather reasonable and succinct list of requirements to fulfill.
- 9.01, Intro to Neuroscience. This class has changed since I took it (for the better, I hear) — generally, it’s an introduction to the brain, while 9.00 is an introduction to the mind.
- 9.07, Statistical Methods. The dataphile that I am, I loved this class. Quantifying uncertainty? I’m there!
- A lab class: 9.12 (molecular/cellular neurobiology lab), 9.02 (brain lab — more whole-organism based), or 9.63 (cognitive science lab). I took 9.12, while (I think) Jessie took 9.02, so if you have any specific questions about those labs, direct them toward the appropriate person. Course 9 students are also required to take at least one semester of UROP for credit — so if you’re course 9, I categorically guarantee you’ll be involved in undergraduate research!
- 6 classes chosen from 3 lists. The lists are “neuroscience”, “cognitive neuroscience”, and “cognitive science”, and you must pick from at least two lists. (For example, I’m taking/have taken 9.04, 9.09, 9.15, 9.18, and 9.30 [no longer offered] from the neuroscience list and 24.900 from the cognitive science list.) Basically, if you only like neurons/systems/psychology, you can design your program such that you only really deal with neurons/systems/psychology. If you like all of it, you can dabble in everything. Have it your way.
The last time we gathered together, Merudh asked “How well do you think MIT’s BCS program is for med school?”
Not being premed, I won’t try to answer that from a fully authoritative point of view, but I do know course 9 is a popular major for the premed-minded. The major is pretty flexible, so it’s easy to take the required premed classes plus the course 9 workload. (Course 9 is also a popular double-major for that reason.)
At any rate, one of the course 9 premed seniors last year won a Rhodes scholarship. Premeds are, of course, advised to major in something they like for undergrad, as medical schools don’t require a specific major. So if you’re interested in course 9, it’s a good choice for medical school!
And luckily for those of us who faint at the sight of blood, there are lots of other things you can do with a course 9 degree.
So that’s that. Any other questions?