Major in Neuroscience

Potential majors are encouraged to begin planning their course of study by the end of their first year. See the front office in PBS for a Neuroscience advisor.

A checklist for designing a major in Neuroscience is available to help plan your coursework.

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2014-2015.  

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2015-2016.  


Required courses are also intended to provide a strong background in the measurement of behavior. Then, students are expected to choose a set of electives that will lead them towards a broad understanding of the neuroscience field, as well as techniques used by neuroscientists to study the brain.  With this background, students are then encouraged to engage in a research project with a specific emphasis in neuroscience. For example electives in Computer Science and Mathematics could be selected that emphasize computational methods, leading towards a senior research project in computational neuroscience. Alternatively, a student might choose electives emphasizing cell or molecular biology, leading towards a research project in cellular neurobiology. The list of electives is adaptive. Students develop an elective list with an advisor that is subject to approval by the Neuroscience Steering Committee.

We encourage students to work closely with sponsoring faculty to learn experimental methods in neuroscience. Students fulfill their culminating experience by either conducting research in neuroscience under the direction of a faculty advisor or taking an upper level seminar with an emphasis in neuroscience. Faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences provide a core resource for research opportunities for students; however, neuroscience research opportunities for undergraduate majors also involve faculty in the School of Medicine, the Thayer Engineering School, and other departments within the College of Arts and Sciences subject to approval by the Neuroscience Steering Committee.

Prerequisite Courses

Must complete six courses:

  1. PSYC 6 Introduction to Neuroscience OR
    BIOL 34 Introduction to Neurobiology
    Note: Students cannot get major credit for taking both PSYC 6 and BIOL 34
  2. PSYC 10 Statistics OR
    BIOL 29 Statistics

And any 4 of the following courses:

  • MATH 3 Introduction to Calculus
  • MATH 4 Calculus with Applications
  • MATH 8 Calculus of Functions
  • CHEM 5, 6 General Chemistry
  • PHYS 3, 4 General Physics
  • COSC 1 Introduction to Computer Science
  • COSC 10 Problem Solving with Computer Science
  • COSC 31 Algorithms
  • ENGS 20 Introduction to Computer Science with applications in Engineering

Required Courses

Must complete four core and four elective courses:

Core Courses:

  1. PSYC 21 Perception OR
    PSYC 28 Cognition OR
    PSYC 27 Cognitive Neuroscience (note, students cannot get major credit for both PSYC 27 and 28)

  2. PSYC 45 Behavioral Neuroscience

  3. PSYC 46 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience OR
    BIOL 12 Cell Structure and Function AND BIOL 13 Gene Expression and Inheritance

  4. PSYC 65 Systems Neuroscience

Elective Courses (two courses must be at the 40's level or higher):

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2014-2015.  

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2013-2014.

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2012-2013.

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2011-2012

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2010-2011



  • Courses are approved as neuroscience electives on a yearly basis.  Thus, while it is highly likely that subsequent offerings of a course would also count as an elective, it is not guaranteed.  This is because the instructor may change and/or the amount of neuro-relevant content may change over time. Please consult each year's list of approved electives to be sure the course you plan to take counts as an elective!
  • With permission of the Neuroscience Steering Committee, other courses that are appropriate given the student's area of specialization may be taken for elective credit.
  • Students who elect to take the Biology 12/13 sequence to satisfy their cellular/molecular neuroscience requirement can take Psychology 46 as one of the four elective credits.
  • Whichever course is taken to satisfy the Psychology 21/27/28 requirements the other course may be taken for elective credit. Note, however that students cannot get major credit for both Psyc27 and Psyc28.
  • Multiple offerings of Psychology 50, 51, 52, and 80s-level courses of the same number may be taken as long as they cover different topics.
  • ***Note that only certain 50s, 51s, 52s, and 80s-level courses count for neuroscience credit.*** In other words, there may be to two courses that are both numbered 'PSYC 83' however, one might be approved for neuroscience elective credit and the other may not! So you must consult the list of approved courses for each year (via the links above).
  • You can only get major credit for taking Psychology 6 or Biology 34, but not both.
  • Students who take Physiology 150 or PEMM 211 should register for Psychology 90 and have permission of the instructor.
  • Psychology 6 and 10 and Biology 34, and required courses, electives and culminating courses cannot be taken as an NRO.
  • Courses that are taken as part of another major/minor cannot be used as elective courses for Neuroscience.
  • At the beginning of each academic year, the Neuroscience Steering Committee will announce which courses qualify for elective and culminating experience credit.
  • For permission courses at 60's and 80's level students should fill out an online permission form (link to permission/checklist form).



Culminating Experience

Must complete one course:


  • Culminating experience cannot be used to satisfy the electives requirement.

Independent Neuroscience Research


This course is designed to enable students to engage in independent laboratory research under the direction of a neuroscience faculty member.  Students may take up to two terms of independent research (Note: if one term is to serve as the Culminating Experience, the other term cannot be used as an elective). Students are required to write a final report of their research.  Prerequisite: PSYC 6 or BIOL 34 and PSYC 10 or BIOL 29.  Enrollment is via the PBS Department website along with written permission of the advisor and then written permission of the Chair of the Neuroscience Steering Committee.  A checklist for enrolling in Independent Neuroscience Research must be completed and submitted.