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.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Major in Neuroscience will demonstrate:

  • Mastery of the fundamentals of neuroscience spanning the breadth of the field, from the theoretical to the experimental, and across multiple levels of analysis; for example, how does the functional neuroanatomy of sensory processing support language ability and/or what cellular features and molecular mechanisms lead to neurodegenerative disorders?
  • Competency in relating physical and mathematical principles to fundamental concepts in neuroscience, for example, constructing mathematical models of biological systems.
  • Competency in evidence-based reasoning and experimental design, for example, identifying manipulated and measured variables, measurement metrics, experimental controls, power, validity, and reliability.


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 neuroscience major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in neuroscience will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Scientific & Social Inquiry, Quantitative Reasoning, Communication, and the Intellectual Toolkit. 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.

  • 17 four-credit courses are required for the neuroscience major, and they are 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 & molecular, cognition & 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 102/116 and NE 203/218;
    2. Participate in two consecutive semesters of a faculty-mentored research experience for 4 or more credits each 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 101 and 116; 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 MA 124 (or MA 122).
  • One course in statistics: CAS NE 212 (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* (or NE 116*), NE 202, NE 203* (or NE 218* or BI 325), and NE 204*. (Note: NE 102*/116* is a prerequisite for NE 203*.) Successful completion of both NE 102*/116* and NE 203*/218* satisfies the research requirement. Students who elect BI 325 instead of NE 203*/218* will be required to either conduct research with a faculty member, or take an upper-level elective with a lab component to satisfy the research requirement.

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 & Molecular

CAS NE 230, NE 322*, BI 349, NE 445*, NE 455, NE 481, NE 520, NE 525, NE 535, NE 542, BI 599.

Group 2: Cognition & Behavior

CAS NE 234, NE 327*, NE 328*, NE 329*, NE 333, NE 337, NE 338, NE 499, NE 521, NE 528, NE 529, NE 544.

Group 3: Computational

CAS CN 510*, CN 530*, CS 542, CS 565, MA 421, MA 565, MA 578, NE 340*, NE 449*, NE 526, NE 530.

Restricted Electives (maximum of 2 toward the major)

CAS BI 203 or BI 213, BI 315, CH 203 or CH 218, CS 111, CS 112, MA 226, MA 242, MA 416; ENG EK 127.

Students may not receive credit for both CAS NE 101 and PS 231.

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