Academic program

Neuroscience is a rigorous, time-intensive major that examines the bidirectional interrelations between the nervous system and behavior and includes perspectives from biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, and other disciplines. Neuroscience majors become familiar with neurobiology, physiological psychology, and cognitive neuroscience through classroom and laboratory experiences that include a senior capstone. More information on the neuroscience program is available on the website (

Students interested in declaring the major may take the introductory course in their first or second year. As performance on the examinations in the introductory course is predictive of future academic success in the major, students whose exam performance is below a B- who wish to pursue the major should consult with the program chair about their academic preparedness for subsequent neuroscience courses and may be cautioned against majoring in neuroscience. Given the emphasis on quantitative reasoning in neuroscience, prospective majors whose score on the college’s Quantitative Reasoning Assessment (QRA) entrance exam is at or below the fiftieth percentile are cautioned against majoring in neuroscience without further intensive preparation in mathematics. Students in this situation must consult with the program chair to identify a suitable plan to address their level of college mathematics preparedness.

Major Requirements. Students take fourteen courses, some of which have prerequisites:

1) Foundational science courses:

All of the following:
BIO 190. Organismal Biology.
BIO 242. Cellular and Molecular Biology.
CHEM 107A. Atomic and Molecular Structure.
CHEM 108A. Chemical Reactivity.
CHEM 217. Organic Chemistry I.

One of the following:
BIO 244. Biostatistics.
PSYC 218. Statistics.

2) Core neuroscience courses:
NS/PY 160. Introduction to Neuroscience.
BI/NS 308. Neurobiology/Lab.
NS/PY 330. Cognitive Neuroscience/Lab.
NS/PY 363. Physiological Psychology/Lab.

NS/PY 160 must be taken prior to junior year. At least two of the three 300-level courses must be taken prior to senior year.

3) Electives. Three upper-level courses from the two elective lists below, either all three from list A or two from list A and one from list B. Students are encouraged to take these courses from different faculty members. Students may count PSYC 357 or s51B toward the major but not both. When choosing the three electives, students are encouraged to take courses in at least two different deprartments. Only one Short Term course can count toward the major.

List A: Courses Related to Neuroscience:
BIO 316. Molecular Aspects of Development.
BIO 321. Cellular Biochemistry.
BIO 328. Developmental Biology.
BIO 330. Advanced Genetics/Lab.
BIO 331. Molecular Biology/Lab.
BIO 337. Animal Physiology/Lab.
BIO 350. Immunology.
BIO 351. Immunology/Lab.
BIO 473. Seminar and Research in Cell Biology.
BIO s44. Experimental Neuro/Physiology/Lab.
NS/PY 319. Physiological Profiles of Mental Illness.
NS/PY 357. Computational Neuroscience.
NS/PY 361. Topics in Affective Neuroscience.
NS/PY364. Biopsychology of Smell.
PHIL 321H. Computational Modeling: Autononmous Robots and Embodied Cognition (may count in List A or B)
PSYC 305. Animal Learning.

List B: Supplemental Courses.
BI/MA 255A. Mathematical Models in Biology.
BIO 355. Advanced Topics in Evolution.
CHEM 218. Organic Chemistry II.
CHEM 321. Biological Chemistry I.
ENG 395I. Literary Imagination and Neuroscience.
MU/PY 253. Music and the Embodied Mind.
PHIL 211. Philosophy of Science.
PHIL 213. Biomedical Ethics.
PHIL 232. Philosophy of Psychology.
PHIL 235. Philosophy of Mind.
PHIL 236. Philosophy of Knowledge.
PHIL 237. Computational Modeling, Intelligence, and Intelligence Systems.
PHIL 321H. Computational Modeling: Autononmous Robots and Embodied Cognition (may count in List A or B)
PHIL 321J. Topics in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind and Language: Self-Knowledge.
PHIL s21. Science of the Mind.
PHYS 301. Mathematical Methods of Physics.
PSYC 261. Research Methodology.
PSYC 302. Sensation and Perception.
PSYC 303. Health Psychology.

4) Senior Capstone.

Senior Capstone. The senior capstone may take one of three forms: an empirical thesis, a capstone seminar, or a community-engaged learning project. Guidelines concerning the capstone process are available on the neuroscience website.

NRSC 457-458. Capstone Thesis in Neuroscience.
NRSC 459. Community-Engaged Learning Capstone.
NRSC 460. Capstone Seminar on Cellular Neuroscience.
NS/PY 461. Capstone Seminar on Psychoendocrinology.
NRSC 462. Capstone Seminar on Computational Neuroscience.

Double Majoring in Neuroscience and Biological Chemistry, Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology. Students may not double major in neuroscience and biological chemistry, biology, chemistry, or psychology.

Students planning to minor in chemistry may not use CHEM 321 toward both the chemistry minor and the neuroscience major.

Transfer of Courses. Neurscience majors may transfer up to two non-Bates credits toward the major (e.g., courses taken during summer or while abroad), provided that the credits are pre-approved by the program chair.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.