Major in Neuroscience

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS) administers the Neuroscience major.  Potential majors are encouraged to begin planning their course of study by the end of their first year. Review the information below and utilize the checklist to guide you in planning your coursework.


The Neuroscience Major comprises

  • 6 Prerequisite courses
  • 4 Core Courses
  • 4 Elective Courses
  • 1 Culminating Experience

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 80s) 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 research experience option (PSYC 90 or 91).

Utilize the appropriate checklist  neuroscience major checklist for class of 2023 and earlier or ​ neuroscience major checklist for class of 2024 and later​ to guide your major plans and view the major flowchart for the recommended order in which to progress through the courses in the major.  These materials can augment your seeking advice from your Neuroscience course instructors as you progress through the major.  When you are ready to declare your Neuroscience major, follow the instructions from the Registrar's Office.

Students interested in the research experience option as their Culminating Experience can learn about ongoing research in PBS through their coursework as well as exploring the People section of this website to learn more about the Faculty. Learn 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.

The Chair of the Neuroscience Major Steering Committee is Professor Matt van der Meer. 


Notes on major modification:

Students in the class of 2025 and earlier: The neuroscience major cannot be modified with another major.  However, students can petition to modify another major with neuroscience (e.g., Comp Sci modified with Neuro) if the primary major department allows it.  If so, when submitting the major plan in DartWorks the student should include in the modification rationale information as to why a modification is preferable to minoring in Neuroscience, and explaining which 4 neuroscience courses (in addition to the prerequisite PSYC 6) will be used for the modification, and why they are suitable.

Students in the class of 2026 and later: The Neuroscience major cannot be modified.  This includes both Modified Majors in which Neuroscience is the primary component (e.g., Neuroscience Modified with Biology) and those in which it is the secondary component (e.g., Biology Modified with Neuroscience).  Students who seek to modify a major in another department with courses in Neuroscience may do so by using the option of a modified major without indication of the secondary department (e.g., Biology Modified).  Students who wish to have a more substantial study of Neuroscience noted on their transcript are encouraged to declare a Neuroscience minor.


If you have questions about the major requirements or your major plan, please contact Professor Catherine Cramer, Chair of the PBS Undergraduate Committee.

Prerequisite Courses

Must complete six

  1. PSYC 6 Introduction to Neuroscience 
  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. (Students in the class of 2023 and earlier may take any 4 courses from the lists below.  Students in the class of 2024 and later must take at least one course from each category.)

Category 1:

  • CHEM 5 General Chemistry
  • CHEM 6 General Chemistry
  • PHYS 3 General Physics I
  • PHYS 4 General Physics II

Category 2:

  • MATH 3 Introduction to Calculus
  • MATH 4 Calculus with Applications
  • MATH 8 Calculus of Functions
  • 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


  • You can NRO prerequisite classes EXCEPT PSYC 6 and 10 and BIOL 29. 
  • You must obtain a grade no lower than a C in PSYC 6. Students who fail to obtain a C or better in PSYC 6 may still complete the major in the event that they earn a C or better in their next two Neuroscience courses.
  • Completion of CHEM 10 or CHEM 11 is accepted in lieu of CHEM 5 and CHEM 6 combined.
Core Courses

Must complete four

  1. PSYC 28 Cognitive Psychology OR
    PSYC 38 (Previously offered as PSYC 27) Cognitive Neuroscience
    Note: While PSYC 28 or PSYC 38 are strongly recommended, students in the class of 2023 or earlier may alternatively fulfill this requirement by taking PSYC 21.

  2. PSYC 37 (Previously offered as PSYC 45) Behavioral Neuroscience

  3. PSYC 35 (Previously offered as PSYC 46) Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience OR
    BIOL 12 Cell Structure and Function AND BIOL 13 Gene Expression and Inheritance

  4. PSYC 36 (Previously offered as PSYC 65) Systems Neuroscience with Laboratory


  • Students who elect to take the Biology 12/13 sequence to satisfy their cellular/molecular neuroscience requirement can take Psychology 35 as one of the four elective credits.
  • Students cannot get major credit for both PSYC 28 and PSYC 38.
  • 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 courses that count towards the Neuroscience major.  We recommend that you not save a copy of this pdf to your computer at the beginning 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 progresses and those updates will appear here.

​​Approved Neuroscience Elective Courses for 2024-2025​​ (Revised April 25, 2024)

Previously approved courses:

​​​​Approved Neuroscience Elective Courses for 2023-2024​​​

​​​​​​​​Approved Neuroscience Elective Courses for 2022-2023 ​​ 
Approved Neuroscience Elective Courses for 2021-2022


  • 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!
  • Not all 50s, 51s, 52s, and 80s-level courses count for neuroscience credit. You MUST consult the list of Approved Neuroscience Elective Courses for each year (via the link above).
  • 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

  • BIOL 74 Advanced Neurobiology Seminar OR
  • PSYC 80s level seminar - Approved seminar with neuroscience emphasis OR
  • PSYC 90 Independent Neuroscience Research (see Independent Research for permission form) OR
  • PSYC 91 Honors Neuroscience Research


  • The culminating experience is in addition to the requirement of four qualifying elective courses.
  • The culminating experience cannot be taken as an NRO.
  • For PSYC 90, 91, and 80's level seminars, neuroscience students will not be granted instructor permission until they fulfill the prerequisite of completing at least two of the core courses in the major, in addition to any course-specific prerequisites.