What's in a name?

If you major in Physics, people will say “Wow!”
If you major in Computer Science,  people will say “Of course!”
If you major in Philosophy, people will say “Why?”
But if you major in Symbolic Systems, people will most likely say “Huh?”

We admit that Symbolic Systems isn’t exactly the most obvious name. In fact, most other schools call it Cognitive Science. But that was just too limiting. Here’s why we chose Symbolic Systems.

  • The name stands for exactly what you will study and seek to understand:
    • Systems that are built with symbols, like natural language, programming, languages, and formal logic; and
    • Systems that work with symbols, such as minds and brains, computers, networks, and complex social systems.
  • It’s a blend of technology and liberal arts—no more techy-fuzzy divide.
  • Having an unpredictable name without any preconceived expectations means you won’t get pigeonholed.
  • It’s 100% distinctive and 100% unique to Stanford. Which is exactly the way we like it.

Explore the Degree