Skip to content ↓
MIT student blogger Mollie B. '06

A lot about course 9 by Mollie B. '06

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.

    • 9.00, Intro to Psychology, with (awesome) Prof. Jeremy Wolfe. This class is a HASS-D humanities class, so lots of people take it, course 9 or not. In the student evaluation guide, the class consistently gets a rating of 6 (out of 7), and Prof. Wolfe gets about a 6.5 (also out of 7).


    • 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?

7 responses to “A lot about course 9”

  1. A little off topic but, do you know anyone who is in Biological Engineering? And if so, how they like it?

  2. Mollie says:

    Hi Candace,

    Technically, the BE major won’t start until after this term — the class of 2008 (current sophomores) is the first class to have the major available, and the lottery which will place interested students in this major won’t be run until after the current fall term.

    So at the moment, I don’t know anyone in BE because there isn’t anyone in BE yet. smile

  3. thekeri says:

    I’ve been thinking of what exactly I’m going into for college. I was looking for a psychobiology major, but I’ve only found that at about four colleges (one of them being Ohio State ^_^).

    But BCS? It looks like it’s right up my alley. Any chance you could tell me just how much it relates to psychology?…

  4. Robb Carr says:

    Thekeri: I am sure Mollie could say alot more in regards to your question however I would suggest looking at to start out it is a complete listing of course 9 classes available this term. Following the links you can find pages for several of the courses, also as Mollie already mentioned Open Course Ware! It is a wonderful resource and you can even find problem sets/exams (and in some cases video lectures) of many courses…I guess it gives you an idea of what they entail to a degree at least.

  5. Yeah, take a look at the OCW. It’s really cool… I even found that some of the p-sets are doable! Ain’t that cool?

    But on a more major note, it really does give you an idea of what kind of course material you’ll deal with if you get into MIT. Best to check it out when you’ve got time – and for me, only after my A levels…

  6. Candace says:

    Wow, I totally overlooked that when I visited their site. Thanks anyway :o)

  7. Jessie says:

    You left out that course 9 students also have to take two course 9 electives approved by their advisor.

    Also, you don’t have to take 9.07. You can take one of any number of probability/stats classes, including 6.041, 18.440, and 18.05.

    And yes, I took 9.02.