Image of retinal ganglion cells






Welcome to the Smith College Neuroscience Program.

paths through the major

Courses: A description of the major and minor in Neuroscience, the requirements for Honors, suggested paths through the major, and information about the Five College Certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience.

neuroscience faculty

Faculty: Professors who teach and advise in the Neuroscience Program.

a national role

National Role: Smith faculty and alumnae take leadership roles in the neuroscience community. This page also includes photos of students presenting their work at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

photo of lab group

Photo Gallery: See a slide show of Smith neuroscience students (and a few faculty!) at work and at play.

What is Neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the study of nervous systems, touching diverse fields such as biology, psychology, biochemistry, philosophy, and computer science. Students of neuroscience are also diverse. For example, some students are primarily interested in questions of how consciousness arises from the human brain, while others become fascinated with the inner workings of individual nerve cells, and still others with the development of these complex neural systems. Neuroscience students at Smith receive excellent preparation for a wide range of careers including research, medicine, biotechnology, pharmacology, and a variety of other careers. The breadth of neuroscience encourages learning about many areas of science.

Smith Neuroscience students graduate with a thorough appreciation for:

  • Neuroscience content. Through core courses students are taught fundamental principles of our understanding of the nervous system at multiple levels of analysis (molecular, cellular, systems, behavioral and cognitive).

  • Scientific writing, quantitative and oral skills. These skills are taught through extensive exposure to drafting reports, training in scientific writing, and opportunities for oral reports and poster presentations in classes and at regional and national neuroscience meetings.

  • The process of scientific research. All our students engage in research-based laboratories, whether it be through one-on-one mentoring with a faculty member or through course-based research laboratories associated with our upper-level offerings.

  • Critical evaluation of the literature. Students are introduced to the scientific literature in a sophomore methods course and then continue to analyze and critique current research papers in upper level courses and seminars.

What do Neuroscience students do?

Some students as seniors join the national neuroscience honor society for undergraduates, Nu Rho Psi. Smith hosts a Nu Rho Psi chapter.

After graduation, many go to graduate school or health-professions schools, often after taking some time to explore various job opportunities. Recent grads have worked as research assistants in laboratories investigating areas as diverse as anesthesia, cognition, vision, and sleep. Or they've taken a variety of other jobs including working for public health agencies and environmental services agencies and even as horse trainers!

Some recent Neuroscience alums have gone to graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. degree at a variety of universities, including Caltech, MIT, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCSF, UC Berkeley, the University of Virginia, and Washington University.

Neuroscience majors have also gone to medical schools, including Albert Einstein, Case Western Reserve, Harvard, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, SUNY Stony Brook, Touro University, Tulane, and the University of Iowa.

Others have gone to nursing schools, including Yale and Columbia... and to programs in clinical psychology... and to law school.... Smith Neuroscience majors are pursuing interesting careers in other important areas too. They are, for example, elementary and secondary school teachers, and administrators of social service programs.

The images on our web pages are of retinal ganglion cells stained with a lipophilic dye. They were prepared by the late Professor Stefan Bodnarenko. You can view an enlarged version of this page's image.

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