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Behavioral Decision Sciences

Leading to a Bachelor of Arts, the study of decision making at Brown covers descriptive questions like how people, institutions, and nations make judgments and decisions; normative questions about rationality, such as what constitutes the best judgments and decisions; and prescriptive questions, such as how the process of decision making can be improved to make actual decisions closer to optimal ones. By virtue of its broad interdisciplinary nature, the study of decision making covers work found in a variety of more traditional disciplines including psychology, cognitive science, economics, philosophy, computer science, and neuroscience. Professor Steven Sloman is the concentration advisor. (David Yokum will be acting concentration advisor from January 2020 to December 2020). Upon declaring, concentrators are also encouraged to speak with the appropriate area specialist from among those listed here.

Standard Program for the AB Degree

CLPS Classes:
CLPS 0220Making Decisions1
Choose one of the following:1
Cognitive Neuroscience
Human Cognition
Social Psychology
Choose two of the following:2
Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making
Affective Neuroscience
Psychology in Business and Economics
The Moral Brain
Distribution Requirements:
Select one Introductory Course from the following: 1
Principles of Economics
Introduction to Scientific Computing and Problem Solving 1
Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming and Computer Science
Computer Science: An Integrated Introduction
Computer Science: An Integrated Introduction
Accelerated Introduction to Computer Science
Select Two Advanced Courses From:2
Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning
Intermediate Microeconomics
Intermediate Microeconomics (Mathematical)
Big Data
Theory of Behavioral Economics
Game Theory and Applications to Economics
Philosophy of Economics
Decision Theory: Foundations and Applications
Methods Classes:
Choose One From the Following:1
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Statistical Methods
Data Fluency for All
Probability for Computing and Data Analysis
Introduction to Econometrics
Plus One of the Following:1
Laboratory in Social Cognition
Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming and Computer Science 1
Computer Science: An Integrated Introduction 1
Applied Research Methods for Economists
Mathematical Econometrics I
Electives: 3
Students will choose three additional courses in consultation with a concentration advisor that will constiture an integraded specialization in some area of decision science. Such courses might include, but are not limited to:
Psychology and Cognitive Science
Introduction to programming
Introduction to Programming for the Mind, Brain and Behavior
Directed Reading in Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences
Theory of Behavioral Economics
Game Theory and Applications to Economics
Applied Mathematics:
Introduction to Modelling
Computational Probability and Statistics
Theory of Probability II
Neural Dynamics: Theory and Modeling
Moral Philosophy
Moral Theories
Computer Science:
Computer Vision
Computational Linguistics
Data Science
Political Science:
Polarized Politics
Prosperity: The Ethics and Economics of Wealth Creation
International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Public Health:
PHP 1740
Principles of Health Behavior and Health Promotion Interventions
Fall seminar in which students write an integrative paper or do a project covering their areas of study in their senior year.
Total Credits13

Students will be expected to take no more than 6 courses below the 1000-level within the concentration.  Students with multiple concentrations may not apply more than 2 courses from a second concentration to the AB in Behavioral Decision Sciences.  No more than 2 courses can be transferred from another institution to count toward concentration credit.


Students interested in honors should identify a faculty honor's sponsor and sign up with the concentration advisor during Semester 6.  Although there is no minimum grade point average to enter the program, admission to the program is limited to students who have accumulated a strong academic record, and show evidence that they will meet the program's requirements.  It is expected that honors candidates will conduct a year-long research project under the direction of a faculty sponsor culminating in a written thesis at the end of Semester 8.  Honors theses can serve to satisfy the capstone requirement, although honors students are expected to attend the capstone seminar in the fall of their senior year.