BSN Graduate Option. Students can study in the BSN option through two different tracks: the Computation and Neural Systems (CNS) graduate program track, and the Social Sciences (SS) graduate program track. Both tracks offer courses in computation, neuroscience, psychology, and economics and provide the same opportunity to work with each of the faculty who participate in the BSN option. However, there is a different emphasis in each track, which means that you might be better suited to one or the other, depending on your background, skills, and interests.
Computation and Neural Systems (CNS) Track. If you apply through CNS, you will be a student pursuing the BSN degree through the multi-divisional Computation and Neural Systems program. The goal of the CNS program is to develop an understanding of how the brain mediates computation, as well as to use knowledge gained from how neural systems work to build artificial systems. Because of the emphasis on computation, students entering this program tend to have a strong background in math, computer science, physics, or another quantitative discipline. As a CNS student in the BSN track, you will be expected to have this type of quantitative background as well as some experience in neuroscience, or, at minimum, to show strong evidence of quantitative abilities and experience in computational modeling. As a graduate of the BSN track of the CNS program, you will have the training and skills needed to pursue a career in neuroeconomics, decision neuroscience, computational systems, or cognitive neuroscience. More details on the Computation and Neural Systems BSN track are available here.
Social Sciences Track. If you apply through the Social Sciences track, you will pursue your degree from the Social Sciences graduate program in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech. Students in this program are given rigorous training in the formal methods needed to perform research in the social sciences, particularly in the domains of economics and political science. The training program demands strong quantitative abilities. Evidence of prior mathematical training is essential, and prior exposure to economics and finance is desirable. As a BSN student through the Social Sciences track, you will gain core training in these disciplines, as well as in neuroscience and computation. As a graduate of this BSN track, you will have the skills and training necessary to pursue an academic career in neuroeconomics or in computational, decision, or cognitive neuroscience. Depending on the research pathway you choose during your PhD, you should also receive the training necessary to pursue a career in more traditional economics or finance. More details on the Social Sciences BSN track are available here.
Admissions. Applicants for graduate admission to the option should have an undergraduate major in economics, psychology, biology, physics, mathematics, or computer science, and a general background that will permit enrolling in advanced courses in the other relevant disciplines. All applicants for admission, including those from foreign countries, are strongly urged to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores for verbal and quantitative aptitude tests and for an advanced test in physics, biology, engineering, mathematics, or computer science. All applications must be submitted online via the graduate admissions page of the Graduate Studies Office website.