Neuroscience Major/Minor FAQs

If you are considering majoring or minoring in Neuroscience, the information below may be helpful.

Q. I am interested in both Psychology and Neuroscience as a major. Which course should I take between PSYC 1 vs. PSYC 6?

A. PSYC 6 is required for the Neuroscience major, so if you know that you are interested in neuroscience, then PSYC 6 may be your best choice. However, if you are unsure, then selecting PSYC 1 (required for the Psychology major) is a good option, because you will cover the field of psychology in more breadth and it will include some neuroscience.  Many students end up taking both to help with the decision.

Q. What is the difference between the Psychology major and the Neuroscience major?

A. Psychology is the study of behavior–from the level of brain mechanisms of behavior to social interactions. It encompasses a large breadth of topics including: applied, social, developmental, clinical cognitive, and physiological psychology. Majoring in psychology will expose you to many of these disciplines. In contrast, neuroscience is the study of brain mechanisms and encompasses material from the molecular and cellular level of how neurons work, to cognitive and behavioral levels where questions of how neural processes lead to behavior and cognitive thought is studied. In between these two levels, neuroscience also involves anatomical and system level analyses of brain function.

Q. Why would I want to take the two course Bio 12/Bio 13 sequence to satisfy the cellular/molecular neuroscience requirement instead of the one course–Psyc 35?

A. Taking the BIOL 12 and 13 sequence (in lieu of PSYC 35) for the cellular/molecular neuroscience requirement) would fulfill the premed recommendations, since both these Biology courses have laboratories (PSYC 35 does not contain a laboratory). However, PSYC 35 has more content directly related to neuroscience than the BIOL 12/13 sequence.

Q. Can I get neuroscience elective credit for taking PSYC 35 even if I've taken BIOL 12 and 13?

A. Yes. The content of PSYC 35 is sufficiently different from BIOL 12 and 13; thus, we allow elective credit for it.

Q. I have AP Credit for some of the prerequisites (e.g., Math 3). Does this mean I have credit for one prerequisite?

A. Yes. If you have AP credit and were given a Dartmouth college credit for the course, then this course can count as one of your prerequisites.

Q. Can I count an elective course for the neuroscience major or minor that is used to count as an elective course in another major?

A. No. For example, if a student is majoring in Psychology and is counting PSYC 50.01 as one of their elective courses for the Psychology major, then he/she cannot use this course to count towards required credits for any other major or minor (Neuroscience included).

Q. Can I NRO (non-recording option) neuroscience courses?

A. You may NRO any of the prerequisites except PSYC 6, PSYC 10, BIOL 29. You may not NRO any required, elective, or culminating experience courses.

Q: Can I modify the neuroscience major?


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.

Q: How do I calculate my neuroscience major GPA?

A: The major GPA in Neuroscience is calculated by averaging all of the currently-completed courses that are part of the major, excluding PSYC 10  (or it's equivalent, e.g. ECON 10) and the non-PSYC prerequisite courses (e.g. CHEM 5 or CHEM 6).  This includes PSYC 6, core courses, approved electives, and culminating courses, and is independent of the departmental designation of those courses. Please note that grades for independent/honors research courses (PSYC 70, 90, and 91) are also excluded from the major GPA calculation.

Q. Do I need to add exact course numbers in my major declaration plan?

A. When selecting courses in your major declaration, please scroll down until you come to the exact course number. Please note that course numbers with decimals come later than course numbers without decimals. Courses are listed in order based on the first number (i.e., PSYC 83.08 will come later than PSYC 085 and PSYC 174).