BA in Biology—Neurobiology Specialization

Changes to this program will take effect in the 2017–2018 academic year.

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 the biotechnology industry and for graduate studies in the biomedical sciences and medicine.


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.

After introductory biology, three courses must be lab courses taken in the Biology Department. One semester of 4-credit independent research may be used toward the three-lab requirement.

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 (2 courses)

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

Breadth Requirement (1 course)

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE)

  • CAS BI 225 or
  • CAS BI 303* or
  • CAS BI 306* or
  • CAS BI 309 or
  • CAS BI 407* recommended

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

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

Foundation Courses (3 courses)

  • CAS BI 203 (or BI 213)
  • CAS BI 315* and
  • CAS BI 325 (or NE 203*)

Neurobiology Electives (6 courses)

Choose six elective courses from the following list. Three must be BI or BI cross-listed courses.

  • CAS BI 230
  • CAS BI 407*
  • CAS BI/CH 421*
  • CAS BI/NE 445*
  • CAS BI/NE 449*
  • CAS BI 455
  • CAS BI 481
  • CAS BI 502
  • CAS BI/NE 520
  • CAS BI/NE 525
  • CAS BI/NE 535
  • CAS BI/NE 542
  • CAS BI 545
  • CAS BI 551
  • CAS BI 552
  • CAS BI 554
  • CAS BI 594
  • CAS BI 599
  • CAS PS/NE 323 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
  • CAS PS/NE 333
  • CAS PS 336
  • CAS PS/NE 337
  • CAS PS/NE 338
  • CAS PS 339/NE 202
  • CAS PS/NE 528
  • CAS PS/NE 530
  • CAS PS/NE 544
  • SAR HS 370 (NOT accepted toward laboratory requirement)
  • SAR HS 550

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

Note: After introductory biology, at least three courses must be at the 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 course, 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.

Research for credit courses require students to submit an application and receive approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Freshmen and sophomores may take CAS BI 191/192 or BI 291/292 for 2 credits per semester. These courses will not count toward the major.

Juniors and seniors may take CAS BI 391/392 and BI 491/492 for 4 credits toward the major.

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

Honors Research in Biology (CAS BI 401 & 402) requires an overall GPA of 3.0 and a Biology GPA of 3.5. Students must complete two semesters of research and one semester of the Honors Seminar (CAS BI 497/498). Honors Research requires completion and defense of a written senior thesis.

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

Required Related Science Courses (7 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);
  • CAS CH 203 (or 211)

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

  • CAS CH 171;
  • CAS CH 174;
  • 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. For medical and other professional school admission, some students elect to take a fourth semester of chemistry, CAS CH 204 (or 212 or 214), as well as biochemistry.

Mathematics/Computer Science

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 127
  • CAS MA 129
  • CAS MA 196

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

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

Additional Information

Please see the Department of Biology portion of this Bulletin for information on the following topics:

  • Advanced Placement (AP)
  • Department Residency Requirement
  • Intercollege Cross-Registration
  • Premedical Students
  • Study Abroad Programs