Neuroscience is an Interdepartmental Program administered jointly by the Department of Psychology and the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB).

Neuroscience (B.S.)

May be elected as an interdepartmental major

Effective Winter 2014; course list update Winter 2015

Exclusions: Students who elect a major in Neuroscience may not elect the following majors: Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Sciences; Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience; Biology, General Biology; Cell and Molecular Biology; Microbiology; Plant Biology; or Biochemistry. They may also not elect a minor in Biology; Plant Biology; Chemistry; or Biochemistry.

Student double majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience may share a maximum of 3 courses toward their two programs.


The overall goals of this major are to:

  1.  provide a course of study in the discipline of Neuroscience that integrates cell/molecular and behavioral components of the field; and 
  2. provide a course of study that better prepares students for graduate training in the field of Neuroscience than do the current majors in Cellular and Molecular Biology (CMB), Biology, or Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN). 

An understanding of how the nervous system functions spans both molecular and cellular activity that is best taught by cell and molecular neurobiologists, and behavior that is best taught by psychologists. The well-trained student will receive instruction that allows her or him to understand the usefulness of genetics, cellular biology, and behavioral tests in this complex field. This degree will provide the cross-disciplinary training that will provide a head-start into postgraduate studies in Neuroscience.

Prerequisites to the Major

  • BIOLOGY 171 and 172/174 and 173; or BIOLOGY 195 and 173; or BIOLOGY 162 or 163; and
  • CHEM 210/211 and 215/216
  • Quantitative Prerequisites – Two courses from the following:
    • Calculus I (MATH 115, 120, 185, or equivalent)
    • Calculus II (MATH 116, 121, 156, 176, 186, or equivalent)
    • Physics I (PHYSICS 125, 135, 140, 160, or equivalent)
    • Physics II (PHYSICS 126, 235, 240, 260, or equivalent)
    • Any STATS course that has STATS 250 as a prerequisite
    • [With the permission of an advisor, other courses that help students develop quantitative skills can be substituted.]

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 37 credits are required.

  1. Core:

    1.   Neurobiology: BIOLOGY 225 [This course should be taken as early as possible but no later than the end of the first term of the student’s fourth year]
    2.   Genetics: BIOLOGY 305
    3.   Biochemistry: one of MCDB 310, BIOLCHEM 415, or CHEM 351
    4.   Biopsychology: PSYCH 230
    5. Statistics: STATS 250
  2.  Electives (5 courses, minimum 16 credits). 

    1. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. At least two courses from the following (at least one course must be at the 300-level):
      • MCDB 351, 352, 401 (appropriate sections), 402, 403, 418, 421 (effective Winter 2015), 422, 426, 450, 455, 456, 459 (Fall 2015, retroactive to Winter 2011)
    2. Behavioral Neuroscience. At least two courses from the following:
      • PSYCH 240, 245, 345, 402 (appropriate sections, 3-4 credits only), 431, 433, 434, 435, 436, 437, 438, 531, 532, 533
      • ANATOMY 541
      • NEUROSCI 520.
      • PHYSIOL 541
    3. Optional Courses. Elect no more than one course from the following:
      • BIOLOGY 205;
      • MCDB 397, 401 (appropriate sections), 405, 408, 411, 417, 427, 428, 435, 436, 441, 462, 469;
      • EEB 492;
      • PSYCH 346, 420 (3 credits only), 430, 447, 448, 531, 541;
      • Any STATS course that has STATS 250 as a prerequisite and is not used as a QR prerequisite

            [Note: With the permission of an advisor, other upper-level courses that are highly relevant to neuroscience can be substituted.]

  3. Lab requirement. At least two different courses for a minimum of four credits total from the following categories, with at least one course being a Methods-Based laboratory:
    1. Method-Based Laboratory courses: Choose at least one course from:
      • BIOLOGY 226
      • MCDB 306, 308, 419, 423, 424 (Fall 2015, retroactive to Winter 2011), 429
      • PSYCH 302 (effective Winter 2015, retroactive to Fall 2008)
    2. Research-Based Laboratory Courses: 
      • MCDB 300, 400
      • PSYCH 326, 331, 332, 422, 424/426, 428.

  4. Note: Each course must be taken for a minimum of two credits each and be completed in a single academic term. Only three credits of independent study may count toward the major.

    Students who take 6 credits of upper-level psychology lab courses related to neuroscience (Area D1 and D2) can receive a waiver for BIOLOGY 173



Honors Plan

Effective Winter 2014

The Neuroscience B.S. degree is the basis for the Honors degree in Neuroscience. Students must elect two terms of independent research (under PSYCH 424 & 426, MCDB 300, or MCDB 400), maintain an overall and GPA in the major of 3.4, complete an Honors thesis and give a research presentation based on their Honors work.

Prior to applying to the Neuroscience Honors Program students must identify a research mentor from the approved Neuroscience Honors Thesis Sponsor/Co-Sponsor Faculty list. Students may conduct Honors research with faculty in other units on the University of Michigan campus who are not on this list, but must have a formal co-sponsor relationship with a faculty member who is on the approved list.

Students apply to the Honors Program in Neuroscience by submitting a Neuroscience Honors Application with a research proposal. Neuroscience Honors applications are due by no later than the end of the add/drop period one semester prior to graduation (i.e., approximately September 25 for students graduating at the end of Winter term, and approximately January 25 for students graduating at the end of the Fall term or Summer term). When special circumstances apply, the honors committee may accept an application beyond the normal due date. Upon approval by the chair of the Neuroscience Steering Committee students are declared into the Honors plan. Honors theses must be submitted by December 1, April 1, or August 1 of the term of graduation.

Written evaluations of the Honors thesis must be submitted by the mentor and up to two faculty readers. Honors theses must be submitted no later than one calendar month prior to the date of graduation.


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