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


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Biology with a Specialization in Neurobiology (NB) will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Scientific Inquiry and Quantitative Reasoning, as well as some of the requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Through the NB breadth course, students may also satisfy some requirements in Communication and/or Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

The specialization in Neurobiology requires a total of 12 biology courses (introductory, foundation, breadth, and elective courses). Students must also complete a total of six to seven related courses in chemistry, math/computer science, and physics.

Excluding Introductory Biology courses (CAS BI 107 and BI 108 or equivalents):

  • at least three biology courses must have a laboratory component
  • at least three biology courses must be at the 300+ level
  • at least five biology courses must be taken in the BU Biology Department (or be cross-listed with BI courses in CAS or MET)

Biology course requirements can overlap (e.g., BI 306 simultaneously counts as a breadth requirement, as a lab course, and as a 300+ level course. Nonetheless, BI 306 is only counted as a single course toward fulfillment of the major).

A grade of C or higher is required for major credit in all courses (except corequisite chemistry courses). A grade of C– or higher is required for major credit in 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 (or BI 116)

Foundation Courses (3 courses)

  • CAS BI 203 (or BI 213 or BI 218*)
  • CAS BI 315*
  • CAS BI 325 (or NE 203*)

* Course will also count toward the three lab requirement.

Breadth Requirement (1 course)

Choose one course from the following area of biology:

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution (EBE)

  • CAS BI 225 or
  • CAS BI 260 or
  • CAS BI 303* or
  • CAS BI 306* or
  • CAS BI 309 or
  • CAS BI 407* recommended

* Course will also count toward the three lab requirement.

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

Neurobiology Electives (6 courses)

Choose six elective courses from the following list and/or from the eligible courses under the Optional Programs section of this Bulletin page. Three electives must be BI (or BI cross-listed) courses.

  • CAS BI/NE 230
  • CAS BI 407*
  • CAS BI/CH 421*
  • CAS BI/NE 445*
  • CAS BI/NE 449*
  • CAS BI/NE 455
  • CAS BI/NE 481
  • CAS BI/NE 520
  • CAS BI/NE 525
  • CAS BI/NE 535
  • CAS BI/NE 542
  • CAS BI/NE 545
  • CAS BI 551
  • CAS BI 552
  • CAS BI/NE 598
  • CAS BI 599
  • CAS CH 373
  • 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 count toward the three lab requirement.

Related Requirements (6–7 courses)


Choose one of the following tracks (in consultation with your major advisor):

Standard track (recommended):
  • Choose one of the following general chemistry sequences:
Sequence I Sequence II Sequence III
CAS CH 101 &
CAS CH 102 (or CH 116)
CAS CH 109 &
CAS CH 110
CAS CH 111 &
CAS CH 112


  • Choose one of the following organic chemistry courses: CAS CH 203 (or CH 211 or CH 218)
Alternative track (not acceptable for most pre-health careers):
  • CAS CH 171^

^ Or any completed general chemistry sequence from the standard track


  • CAS CH 172 or CH 174

Note: It is recommended that the standard track general chemistry sequence (or alternative track’s CH 171 & 172 or CH 171 & 174) be taken concurrently with BI 107 and BI 108 during freshman year. Most Biology majors complete the standard track and continue onto a fourth semester of chemistry (CH 204 or 214), which is a requirement for medical and other professional schools. Students intending to apply to medical school are also advised to take biochemistry (CAS BI 421/422 or CH 373) in their junior or senior year.

Mathematics/Computer Science

Choose a total of two courses from the lists below. At least one course must be calculus or statistics:

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

Note: Students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 121 or 123; similarly, students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 122, 124, 127, or 129.

Statistics Courses
  • CAS MA 115
  • CAS MA 116
  • CAS MA 213
  • CAS MA 214

Note: MA 113 will not satisfy major requirements. Students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 113, 115, or 213; similarly, students cannot take more than one of the following for credit: CAS MA 116 or 214.

Computer Science Courses
  • CAS CS 105
  • CAS CS 108
  • CAS CS 111


Choose one of the following sequences:

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

Optional Programs

Undergraduate Research in Biology

While research is not required by the major, undergrads are encouraged to participate in research during their time at Boston University. Undergraduate research courses are available at all levels and require students to submit an application and receive approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Freshman BI 191/192 2 credits
Sophomore BI 291/292 2 credits
Junior BI 391/392 2 or 4 credits
Senior BI 491/492 4 credits

Notes: Up to two 4-credit semesters can be used to fulfill major electives (these semesters do not need to be taken consecutively). One of these two semesters can be used toward the three lab requirement. Both 2- and 4-credit research count toward graduation credits.

Seniors may pursue Honors Research in Biology; see information below

Please visit the Biology Department website for additional information regarding Undergraduate Research in Biology.

Additional Information

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

  • Advanced Credit (AP & IB Exams)
  • Department Residency Requirement
  • Intercollege Cross-Registration
  • Premedical Students
  • Study Abroad Programs

Honors in the Major

Honors Research in Biology requires senior standing and an overall GPA of 3.5. Students complete two semesters of 4-credit research (CAS BI 401 & 402) and one semester of the Honors Seminar (CAS BI 497 or 498). In addition, Honors students must complete and defend a written senior thesis.