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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. 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
Special Topics in Cognition: Collective Cognition
Mechanisms of Motivated Decision Making
Affective Neuroscience
Visually-Guided Action and Cognitive Processes
Psychology in Business and Economics
Blame and Punishment
The Moral Brain
The Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness
Distribution Requirements:
Select one Introductory Course from the following: 1
Principles of Economics
Introduction to Scientific Computing and Problem Solving 1
Computing Foundations: Data
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
Introduction to Game Theory
Intermediate Microeconomics
Intermediate Microeconomics (Mathematical)
Welfare Economics and Social Choice Theory
History of Economic Thought
Economics in the Laboratory
Theory of Behavioral Economics
Game Theory and Applications to Economics
Decision Theory: Foundations and Applications
Micro-Organizational Theory: Social Behavior in Organizations
Macro-Organizational Theory: Organizations in Social Context
Methods Classes:
Choose One From the Following:1
Essential Statistics
Statistical Inference I
Statistical Methods
Data Fluency for All
Advanced Introduction to Probability for Computing and Data Science
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
Big Data
Market and Social Surveys
Market Research in Public and Private Sectors
Electives: 3
Students will choose three additional courses in consultation with a concentration advisor that will constitute an integrated specialization in some area of decision science. Any advanced course taught at Brown is eligible. Such courses might include, but are not limited to:
Psychology and Cognitive Science
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:
Computational Probability and Statistics
Theory of Probability II
Neural Dynamics: Theory and Modeling
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.  Students are responsible for satisfying all prerequisites for courses they plan to take.


The Honors Program in BDS gives undergraduates a special opportunity to carry out a research project under the direction of a faculty member that they have developed a relationship with.  The program also provides the opportunity for senior concentrators to receive their undergraduate degree with Honors.  Participation in the program allows students to develop an understanding of research and acquire research skills and background.

Candidates for Honors in BDS must meet all of the requirements of the BDS concentration as described above.  Candidates submit their application for the program at the beginning of semester 7.  We encourage students to seek out a faculty mentor prior to semester 7 and to complete their methods courses and two of their three electives before semester 7. Please refer to the CLPS Honors Program page for detailed information about the specific requirements for the Honors Program in BDS.