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Courses in the Neuroscience Major and Minor

Revised: September 14, 2018

The Neuroscience major listed here is open to all students and required for the classes of 2020, 2021 and thereafter. Students in the class of 2019 who are fulfilling the old version of the major have the option, in consultation with their adviser, of continuing with that version. Tables of suggested paths through the neuroscience major will help in your planning.

1) Required Core Courses (28 credits)

Take each of these core courses, beginning with BIO 132/133:
BIO 132/133 Cells, Physiology and Development + lab
CHM 111 (or CHM 118), CHM 222 Chemistry, one year
NSC 210 Fundamentals of Neuroscience or NSC 110 Introduction to Neuroscience
NSC 230 Experimental Methods in Neuroscience
SDS 201 (formerly MTH/PSY 201) or MTH 219 or MTH 220 Statistics

2) Intermediate Biology Courses (8 credits)

Take two of these biology courses:
BIO 200 Animal Physiology
BIO 202 Cell Biology
BIO 230 Genomes and Genetic Analysis

3) Advanced Lecture/Lab Courses (8-12 credits)

Take three advanced courses, at least one of which must be a lab course and one a lecture course, from these options:
Lecture courses:
NSC 314 Neuroendocrinology (4)
NSC 318 Systems Neurobiology (4)
BIO 300 Neurophysiology (4)
BIO 302 Developmental Biology (4)
BIO 310 Cell and Molecular Neuroscience (4)
BIO 362 Animal Behavior (3)
Lab courses:
NSC 324 Research in Behavioral Neuroscience (3)
NSC 328 Research in Systems Neurobiology (3)
NSC 330 Research in Cellular Neurophysiology (2)
BIO 303 Research in Developmental Biology (3)
BIO 363 Research in Animal Behavior (3)
PSY 320 Research in Biological Rhythms (4)

4) Seminars (3-4 credits)

Take one seminar from these options:
NSC 312 Seminar in General Anesthesia (3)
NSC 313 Seminar in Organismal Neuroscience (4)
NSC 316 Neuroscience in the Public Eye (3)
BCH 380 Topics in Biochemistry: Protein Misfolding (3)
BIO 323 Topics in Developmental Biology (4)
PSY 314 Seminar in Foundations of Behavior (4)
PSY 315 Seminar in Autism Spectrum Disorders (4)
PSY 326 Seminar in Biopsychology: Behavioral Epigenetics (4)
PSY 327 Seminar in Mind and Brain: Alzheimer's Disease (4)

5) Elective Courses (4 credits)

Complete one elective course:
PSY 120 Human Cognition
NSC 125 Sensation and Perception
NSC/PSY 130 Clinical Neuroscience
PSY 227 Brain, Behavior, and Emotion
PSY 230 Psychopharmacology


  • The Neuroscience major requires 51-56 credits, depending on which courses are chosen.
  • The S/U option may not be used for courses in the major.
  • A student who places out of required courses with AP or IB credits is expected to replace them with other courses offered in the major.
  • NSC 230 (Experimental Methods in Neuroscience) is not open to seniors.

The Five College Certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience is offered for students enrolled at Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and Hampshire College. It encourages students to follow a program of courses on "the mind as manifested in the human brain" as a complement to a major in neuroscience. For details, consult the certificate website.

Study Abroad is possible in Neuroscience. Mary Harrington is the advisor for study abroad; interested students should consult the online advice page early in their careers to plan their programs.


Director: Adam Hall

NSC 430d, Thesis (8 credits) Full-year course; offered each year. Students have the option of counting one semester of Honors as fulfilling the requirement for one Advanced (300-level) Lab Course.

Requirements:  The same as for the major, with 8 thesis credits in the senior year involving an individual investigation, a written thesis, and two oral presentations (one at midyear and one following submission of the thesis). The thesis is graded by two readers: the thesis adviser and another faculty member. The final honors determination is based on overall GPA (20%), final oral presentation (20%) and the quality of the thesis (60%). The thesis course (430d) receives a grade which is calculated in the overall GPA.

Eligibility:  3.3 GPA in the major through the junior year and a thesis proposal (1000-1500 words) approved by the thesis adviser and the members of the program prior to the college deadline for submission of honors applications.

The Minor in Neuroscience

Note: Students in the classes of 2019 and 2020 have the option of completing the former version of the neuroscience minor.

The Neuroscience minor consists of six courses:

1) BIO 132 Cells, Physiology and Development, or the equivalent

2) NSC 210 Fundamentals of Neuroscience

3) NSC 230 Experimental Methods in Neuroscience

...and three elective courses, chosen in consultation with the NSC minor advisor from courses that count towards the NSC major, with at least two courses at the 300 level.


  • PSY 202 can substitute for NSC 230, but only if one of the 300-level elective courses is also a lab course.

  • Students with AP or IB credit in Biology can opt to omit Bio 132 and take a further elective.