Major in Neuroscience

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS) administers the Neuroscience major. The majority of Neuroscience courses are taught by PBS and Biology faculty and, thus, most Neuroscience course numbers are designated as PSYCxxx or BIOxxx.  All Neuroscience majors are advised by the Chair of the PBS Undergraduate Committee (Prof. Cathy Cramer, Moore Hall, Rm. 258). The Chair of the Neuroscience Major Steering Committee is Prof. Paul Whalen, Moore Hall, Rm 352.

Potential majors are encouraged to begin planning their course of study by the end of their first year. A checklist for designing a major in Neuroscience is available to help plan your coursework.  This checklist is meant to augment your seeking advice from the Neuroscience advisor (Prof. Cramer) as well as your Neuroscience course Professors as you progress through the major.


The Neuroscience Major comprises:

6 Prerequisite courses

4 Core Courses

4 Elective Courses

and 1 Culminating Experience

See Headings below for details

Core courses provide a strong background in the measurement of behavior as it relates to the brain. 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. The electives list is meant to be adaptive.  For example depending on one's interests/future goals, electives in Computer Science and Mathematics could be selected that emphasize computational methods. Alternatively, a student might choose electives emphasizing cell or molecular biology. Students fulfill their culminating experience by either conducting research in neuroscience under the direction of a PBS faculty advisor (PSYC 90 or 91) or taking an upper level seminar (PSYC 80's) with an emphasis in neuroscience (See 'Electives' section below for explanation). We encourage students considering further graduate school study in Neuroscience to opt for the reasearch experience option (PSYC 90 or 91).

Students interested in the research experience option as their Culminating Experience can learn about ongoing reasearch in PBS through their coursework as well as exploring the People section of this website to learn more about the Faculty. Click here for information on how to find a research advisor and how to obtain funds for research projects. PBS Faculty provide a core resource for research opportunities for students; however, neuroscience research opportunities for undergraduate majors can 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

  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 (Note: Students cannot get major credit for taking both PSYC 10 and BIOL 29)

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


  • 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.
  • You can NRO prerequisite classes EXCEPT Psychology 6 and 10 and Biology 29 and 34.

Core Courses

Must complete four

  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 with Laboratory Note: Online permission form required.


  • 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.
  • Core courses CANNOT be taken as an NRO.



Elective Courses

Must complete four

Two courses must be at the 40's level or higher:

At the beginning of each academic year, the Neuroscience Steering Committee will post here which courses qualify for elective and culminating experience credit. Below is a link to the currently approved Electives that count towards the Neuroscience major.  We recommend that you not save a copy of this pdf to your computer at the beinnging of the year, but instead use this link each time you wish to access this list.  This is because we may add classes as the year progesses and those updates will appear here.

Approved Neuroscience Elective courses for 2015-2016

Previously approved courses:

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


  • Elective courses CANNOT be taken as an NRO.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Not all 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 Neuroscience Elective Courses for each year (via the link above).
  • Students who take Physiology 150 or PEMM 211 should register for Psychology 90 and have permission of the instructor.
  • Courses that are taken as part of another major/minor cannot be used as elective courses for Neuroscience.
  • For permission courses at 60's and 80's level, students should fill out an online permission form.

Culminating Experience

Must complete one


  • Culminating experience cannot be used to satisfy the electives requirement.
  • Culminating experience cannot be taken as an NRO.

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 permission form for enrolling in Independent Neuroscience Research must be completed and submitted.