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Courses in the Neuroscience Major and Minor

Revised: September 22, 2017

The Neuroscience major listed here is open to all students and required for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Students in the classes of 2018 and 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 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
MTH 219 or MTH 220 or MTH/PSY 201 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/PSY 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 those with others 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


Two required courses:

* NSC/PSY 110 Introduction to Neuroscience or BIO 132 and NSC/PSY 210 Fundamentals of Neuroscience

* A 300-level course with laboratory, selected in consultation with your advisor.

Four electives (choose any four additional courses from this list):

PSY 105, 120, 230, 314, 315, 326, 327

NSC 125, 130, 230, 312, 314, 316, 318

BIO 230, 200, 202, 230, 300, 302, 310, 323, 362, 363


  • Six courses are required for the minor.
  • One course must include a laboratory component.
  • No more than two courses in the minor can also be counted to fulfill a major.
  • The S/U option may not be used for courses in the minor.