BA in Biology—Neurobiology Specialization

Our understanding of the human brain and diseases of the nervous system is rapidly expanding. The Neurobiology specialization for Biology majors provides an opportunity for students to understand the brain from a biological perspective, combining a broad-based biology education with access to advanced neuroscience courses. In addition, students will have research opportunities in areas such as sensory biology at cellular, network, and behavioral levels; the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurological diseases and dysfunctions including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, neuronal cell death, and traumatic brain injuries; neuroethology; computational and network analysis of sensory-motor learning; and membrane excitability at a subcellular level. Upon completion of this specialization, students are prepared for careers in biomedical research, medicine, or the biotechnology industry.


The requirements for the specialization in Neurobiology include two introductory biology courses, four foundation courses in biology, six additional advanced electives in biology and/or psychological & brain sciences, and seven related chemistry, math/computer science, and physics courses.

A grade of C or higher is required for credit toward the major in all biology (and/or psychological & brain sciences), mathematics or computer science, and physics courses. A grade of C- or higher is required for credit toward the prerequisite and corequisite chemistry courses.

Course titles and full descriptions are located in the Courses portion of this Bulletin. Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.

Introductory Biology Courses (2 courses)

  • CAS BI 107 or CGS NS 201
  • CAS BI 108

Foundation Courses in Biology (Breadth Requirement, 4 courses)

  • Cell & Molecular Biology (CM)
    • CAS BI 203 (or BI 213)
  • Physiology and Neurobiology (PN)
    • CAS BI 315 and
    • CAS BI 325 (or NE 203*)
  • Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE)
    • CAS BI 225 or
    • CAS BI 407* recommended or
    • CAS BI 303* or
    • CAS BI 306* or
    • CAS BI 309

*Course will also satisfy one of the three lab requirements.

Note: A course cannot fulfill a breadth requirement and a Neurobiology elective simultaneously.

Neurobiology Electives (6 courses)

Six elective courses are required. Three must be biology courses.

  • CAS BI 230
  • CAS BI 407*
  • CAS BI 421*
  • CAS BI 444*
  • CAS BI 445*
  • CAS BI 449*
  • CAS BI 455
  • CAS BI 481
  • CAS BI 502
  • CAS BI 520
  • CAS BI 525
  • CAS BI 535
  • CAS BI 542
  • CAS BI 545
  • CAS BI 551
  • CAS BI 552
  • CAS BI 554
  • CAS BI 594
  • CAS BI 599
  • CAS PS 323 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
  • CAS PS 333
  • CAS PS 336
  • CAS PS 337
  • CAS PS 338
  • CAS PS 339
  • CAS PS 528
  • CAS PS 530
  • CAS PS 544
  • SAR HS 370 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)

*Course will also satisfy one of the three lab requirements.

Note: Among the ten required foundation and principal courses, at least three must be 300–500 level, and three must have a laboratory component. A 300–500-level course with a laboratory simultaneously counts as one of the biology courses beyond BI 107/108, a 300-500-level, and a laboratory requirement. Nonetheless, it is still counted as a single course toward fulfillment of the major.

Undergraduate Research Options

While research is not required by the major, undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in research during their time at Boston University.

CAS BI 191/192 or BI 291/292 may be taken for elective credit by freshmen and sophomores, respectively; these courses may only be taken for 2 credits per semester and do not count toward the major.

To receive credit toward the major, research must be done on an approved topic in courses open to juniors and seniors. Students must take two consecutive semesters of research to receive the maximum of 8 credits (two courses) toward principal courses requirement. Only 4 credits (one course) can be applied toward the laboratory requirement.

  • CAS BI 391/392
  • CAS BI 401/402
  • CAS BI 491/492

Please visit the Biology Department website for additional information regarding undergraduate research opportunities and instructions on how to apply for credit.

Prerequisite and Corequisite Chemistry Courses

Three courses in chemistry are required for the neurobiology specialization and may be chosen from the following tracks.

Standard (recommended) track:

  • CAS CH 101/102 (or 109/110 or 111/112); plus
  • CAS CH 203 (or 211)

Alternative track (will not fulfill requirements of medical school or some other health-related professions):

  • CAS CH 171; plus
  • CAS CH 174; plus
  • CAS CH 273

Note: CAS CH 101/102 (or 171/174) should be taken concurrently with CAS BI 107/108. CAS CH 203 (or 211 or 273) is a corequisite for CAS BI 203 and a prerequisite for BI 206. Some students elect to take a fourth semester of chemistry, CAS BI 204 (or 212 or 214), which is a requirement for medical and other professional schools.

Required Mathematics or Mathematics/Computer Science Courses

Two courses in mathematics (calculus or statistics) or one course in mathematics and one in computer science, from the list below:

Calculus Courses

  • CAS MA 121
  • CAS MA 122
  • CAS MA 123
  • CAS MA 124
  • CAS MA 196
  • CAS MA 127
  • CAS MA 129

Note: Only one of CAS MA 121 and 123 can be taken for credit; similarly, only one of CAS MA 122, 124, 127, or 129 can be taken for credit.

CAS MA 127 or MA 129 satisfies the two-course mathematics or mathematics/computer science requirement for this major.

Statistics Courses

  • CAS MA 115
  • CAS MA 116
  • CAS MA 213
  • CAS MA 214

Note: Only one of CAS MA 113, 115, or 213 can be taken for credit; similarly, only one of CAS MA 116 or 214 can be taken for credit. MA 113 will not satisfy the Neurobiology major math requirement.

Computer Science Courses

  • CAS CS 105
  • CAS CS 108
  • CAS CS 111

Required Physics Courses

Two courses in physics from one of the following four sequences:

  • CAS PY 105/106 or
  • CAS PY 211/106 or
  • CAS PY 211/212 or
  • CAS PY 241/242