Neuroscience

BA in Neuroscience

How do some individuals achieve superhuman feats of physical ability, while others suffer the debilitating effects of neurodegenerative disease? How do creativity and failure serve the process of discovery? What makes it possible for a mere thought to control a robotic limb or computer? The undergraduate major in Neuroscience is motivated by an enthusiasm for exploration and an urgency to foster scientific literacy amidst a constant stream of news stories heralding “life-changing” discoveries. Growing academic interest and popular fascination with the brain signal a dynamic time for the field of neuroscience and inform our two broad goals: preparation for standard science-oriented careers in both academia and private industry; and nurturing of skills and competencies that apply to a range of postgraduate trajectories, including education, law, public policy, communication, sales and marketing, engineering, public health, and clinical and behavioral therapy.

  • A total of 17 four-credit courses is required for the neuroscience major, and is distributed among seven basic science courses that provide an appropriate background for neuroscience, five core neuroscience courses, and five electives within the three principal domains (cellular and systems, cognition and behavior, and computational). Students must complete at least one course from a second domain, no more than two courses from a restricted electives list, and a research requirement.
  • Students may complete the research requirement in one of three ways:
    1. Successfully complete CAS NE 102 and NE 203;
    2. Participate in two consecutive semesters of a faculty-mentored research experience as a junior or senior conducted under guidelines established by the program:
      a. Directed Study in Neuroscience (CAS NE 391, 392, 491, or 492)
      b. Neuroscience Honors Thesis (CAS NE 401/402);
    3. Successfully complete an upper-level lab course.
  • A grade of C or higher is required in all 17 courses to receive credit toward the major.

Required Basic Science Courses (7 total)

  • Two courses in chemistry: CAS CH 101 and 102 (or CH 109 and 110; or CH 111 and 112).
  • Two courses in physics: CAS PY 105 and 106 (or PY 211 and 212; or PY 241 and 242; or PY 251 and 252).
  • Two courses in calculus: CAS MA 123 (or MA 121) and CAS MA 124 (or MA 122).
  • One course in statistics: CAS PS 211 (or CAS MA 115 and 116; or MA 213 and 214).

Required Core Courses (5 total)

Courses marked with an asterisk (*) contain a lab component.

CAS NE 101, NE 102*, NE 202, NE 203* (or BI 325), and NE 204*. (Note: NE 102 is a prerequisite for NE 203.) Successful completion of both NE 102 and NE 203 satisfies the research requirement. Students who elect BI 325 instead of NE 203 will be required to either conduct research with a faculty member, or take an upper-level lab course.

Upper-Level Electives (5 total)

Choose five courses from the following three groups. At least one course must come from a second group in order to satisfy the breadth requirement; up to two courses may come from a fourth, restricted electives list (these courses will not satisfy the breadth requirement or the research requirement).

Group 1: Cellular and Systems Neuroscience

CAS NE 230, NE 322*, NE 444*, NE 445*, NE 455, NE 481, NE 520, NE 525, NE 545, NE 554, PS 594, BI 599; GMS AN 718.

Group 2: Cognition and Behavior

CAS NE 234, NE 323*, NE 333, NE 337, NE 338, NE 528, NE 529, NE 544, PS 222.

Students may count either CAS NE 337 or NE 338 as an upper-level elective, but not both.

Group 3: Computational Neuroscience

CAS BI 502, CN 500, CN 510*, CN 520*, CN 530*, CN 540*, CN 550*, CN 560*, CN 570*, CN 580, CS 542, CS 565, MA 421, MA 565, MA 578, NE 330*, NE 340*, NE 360/SAR HS 361*, NE 530.

Restricted Electives (2 total)

CAS BI 203, BI 315, CH 203, CS 108, CS 111, CS 112, MA 226, MA 242, MA 416; ENG EK 127.

Undergraduate Research Requirement Options

Students may take CAS NE 191/192 or NE 291/292 for credit, although only CAS NE 391/392, or 491/492 or NE 401/402 will satisfy the research requirement.

Premedical Students

Premedical students concentrating in neuroscience should visit the Pre-Professional Advising Office, 100 Bay State Road, 4th floor, as early as possible to discuss premedical requirements.