Contacts | Program of Study | Declaring the Major | General Education | The Major | Grading | Summary of Requirements for the Major in Neuroscience | Honors | Minor Options | Courses

Department Website: http://neuroscience.uchicago.edu/undergraduate

Program of Study

Neuroscience is the study of neurons and neural systems and their outputs: sensation, perception, homeostasis, and behavior. Neural function is investigated at the levels of molecules, cells, circuits, organisms, and species, making neuroscience inherently multidisciplinary. In addition to established neuroscience career paths in academia, medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry, new careers for students of neuroscience are emerging in economics, software development, and other fields requiring "big data" analysis or a mechanistic understanding of how humans think. The course of study in the undergraduate major in neuroscience provides students with the background and skills appropriate for these diverse careers.

The University of Chicago offers a bachelor of arts (BA) degree and a bachelor of science (BS) degree in Neuroscience. The Neuroscience major is designed to accommodate students with the range of scientific variety that one finds at the professional level of neuroscience, including physics, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, biology, psychology, and medicine. Neuroscience faculty at the University of Chicago have expertise in all of these areas and are distributed across the Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, and Physical Sciences Divisions. Majoring students have the opportunity to take a broad range of courses or to specialize in a particular area.

Declaring the Major

Students who wish to major in Neuroscience should declare the major in their second year.

(Because the Neuroscience major was introduced in the 2016–17 academic year, the Class of 2020 and subsequent classes can design a plan of study in Neuroscience from their first year. Students in the Classes of 2018 and 2019 may also be able to major in Neuroscience, depending on the courses they have already taken, although there is no way to guarantee this. Students in these classes should consult with their College advisers to see if majoring in Neuroscience is feasible.)

General Education

Students majoring in Neuroscience typically begin their general education requirement in the Biological Sciences with BIOS 20186 Fundamentals of Cell and Molecular Biology.  Attaining a proper grounding in cell biology is essential before delving into neuroscience as a discipline. To complete the requirement, students may choose to take one of the following: BIOS 20150 How Can We Understand the Biosphere?, BIOS 20151 Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology (Basic), BIOS 20152 Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology (Advanced), BIOS 20187 Fundamentals of Genetics, BIOS 20188 Fundamentals of Physiology, or BIOS 20191 Integrative Physiology.  (Note: The general education requirement for the NSCI major can be fulfilled by courses in the Biology Fundamentals Sequences [20186-20190] without the Biological Sciences prerequisites [BIOS 20150-20151/20152] unless a student pursues a double major in Biological Sciences. Students who choose this path will be expected to possess the competency in mathematical modeling of biological phenomena covered in BIOS 20151 or BIOS 20152.)  

Two alternative paths to fulfilling the General Education requirements exist.  1)  Neuroscience majors may petition to take the Pre-Med Sequence for Non-Biology majors. In this case, BIOS 20170 Microbial and Human Cell Biology and BIOS 20171 Human Genetics and Developmental Biology will satisfy the core.  (Note that BIOS 20171 must be taken concurrently with BIOS 20172 Mathematical Modeling for Pre-Med Students .)  2)  A score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam allows students to enter the Advanced Biology sequence in the Autumn of their first year. This three-quarter, lab-intensive sequence is for students with a strong background in research. Upon completion of the sequence students are awarded two credits, which satisfy the general education requirement in Biological Sciences. 

The Major

The basic degree in Neuroscience is the BA, for which requirements are described below. A BS is awarded to students who complete an additional three quarters of Neuroscience electives, which must include one to three quarters of faculty-supervised research (scholarly or experimental) resulting in a written thesis (see Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Neuroscience below).

The major curriculum includes nine required Neuroscience courses, which provide a comprehensive overview of the field. The BA requires another 700 units of elective courses, which must be selected from the list below. Electives can be chosen for a broad exposure or tailored for depth in a particular area, such as cellular/molecular, systems, cognitive, and computational neuroscience and machine learning.

Students must have their program of elective courses approved by the office of the director of undergraduate studies. The Student Elective Approval Form should be filled out by the end of the third year and submitted to the Neuroscience major director of undergraduate studies for approval at neuromajor@uchicago.edu.

ELECTIVES
No more than three of the following BIOS courses:300
Mathematical Modeling for Pre-Med Students
Perspectives of Human Physiology
Biochemistry and Metabolism
Fundamentals of Genetics
Fundamentals of Physiology
Integrative Physiology
Fundamentals of Developmental Biology
Principles of Developmental Biology
Molecular Biology of the Cell
Biological Systems
Biological Dynamics
Principles of Physiology
No more than one of the following two-course CMSC sequences:200
Computer Science with Applications I-II
Introduction to Computer Science I-II
Honors Introduction to Computer Science I-II
BIOS 20200Introduction to Biochemistry100
BIOS 24206Peering Inside the Black Box: Neocortex100
BIOS 24208Survey of Systems Neuroscience100
BIOS 24217Conquest of Pain100
BIOS 24231Methods in Computational Neuroscience100
BIOS 24232Computational Approaches to Cognitive Neuroscience100
BIOS 24408Modeling and Signal Analysis for Neuroscientists100
BIOS 26210Mathematical Methods for Biological Sciences I100
BIOS 26211Mathematical Methods for Biological Sciences II100
BIOS 27721Observing Proteins in Action: How to Design and Build Your Own100
LING 27010Psycholinguistics100
NURB 32400Synaptic Physiology100
PSYC 20300Biological Psychology100
PSYC 23800Introduction to Learning and Memory100
PSYC 25560Body & Mind: How our bodies reveal & change emotion & thought100
PSYC 25750The Psychology and Neurobiology of Stress100
CMSC 15400Introduction to Computer Systems100
CMSC 25020Computational Linguistics100
CMSC 25025Machine Learning and Large-Scale Data Analysis100
CMSC 25050Computer Vision100
CMSC 25400Machine Learning100
PHYS 12300General Physics III100
or PHYS 13300 Waves, Optics, and Heat
NSCI 29100Neuroscience Thesis Research100
NSCI 29101Neuroscience Thesis Research100
NSCI 29102Neuroscience Thesis Research100
NSCI 29200Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research100
NSCI 29201Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research100
NSCI 29202Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research100

While it is possible to complete a double major in Neuroscience and another program, this is not encouraged. Neuroscience majors are generally better suited to achieving breadth through a combination of courses that provides the desired expertise in neuroscience and carefully selected courses outside of neuroscience.

Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree in Neuroscience

Students can earn a BS in Neuroscience by completing three quarters of Neuroscience elective courses over and above the BA requirements, which must include one to three quarters of faculty-supervised research that results in a written thesis (NSCI 29100, NSCI 29101, NSCI 29102 Neuroscience Thesis Research). The additional courses and the thesis work require approval by the office of the director of undergraduate studies and the thesis advisor. The thesis may be either research-based or literature-based.

Grading

All courses used to satisfy prerequisites and requirements must be taken for quality grades. Students must pass all required courses with an average GPA of 2.0 or higher to continue in the program.

Summary of Requirements for the Major in Neuroscience

GENERAL EDUCATION
One of the following BIOS sequences:*200
Fundamentals of Cell and Molecular Biology
Plus one of the following
How Can We Understand the Biosphere?
Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology (Basic)
Introduction to Quantitative Modeling in Biology (Advanced)
Fundamentals of Genetics
Fundamentals of Physiology
Integrative Physiology
OR
Microbial and Human Cell Biology
   and Human Genetics and Developmental Biology #
One of the following two-course MATH sequences:200
Elementary Functions and Calculus I-II
Calculus I-II *
Honors Calculus I-II
One of the following two-course CHEM sequences:200
Introductory General Chemistry I
   and Introductory General Chemistry II
Comprehensive General Chemistry I-II *
Honors General Chemistry I-II
Total Units600
MAJOR: BACHELOR OF ARTS
CHEM 11300Comprehensive General Chemistry III *100
or CHEM 12300 Honors General Chemistry III
PHYS 12100-12200General Physics I-II (or higher) *200
STAT 22000Statistical Methods and Applications *100
NSCI 20110Fundamental Neuroscience 100
NSCI 20120Cellular Neuroscience100
NSCI 20130Systems Neurobiology 100
NSCI 20140Sensation and Perception100
NSCI 20100Neuroscience Laboratory100
Seven electives700
Total Units1600
MAJOR: BACHELOR OF SCIENCE
CHEM 11300Comprehensive General Chemistry III *100
or CHEM 12300 Honors General Chemistry III
PHYS 12100-12200General Physics I-II (or higher) *200
STAT 22000Statistical Methods and Applications *100
NSCI 20110Fundamental Neuroscience 100
NSCI 20120Cellular Neuroscience100
NSCI 20130Systems Neurobiology 100
NSCI 20140Sensation and Perception100
NSCI 20100Neuroscience Laboratory100
Seven electives700
Three additional electives **300
Total Units1900
*

Credit may be granted by examination.

#

BIOS 20171 must be taken concurrently with BIOS 20172.

**

Must include one to three courses of NSCI 29100, 29101, 29102 Neuroscience Thesis Research or NSCI 29200, 29201, 29202 Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research

Honors

To obtain honors in Neuroscience, students must have a minimum cumulative GPA (3.25) at the point of entering the honors track, no later than the end of the third year. Entry into the honors track must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Students must do experimental research for three quarters and submit a thesis (NSCI 29200, NSCI 29201, NSCI 29202 Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research). As part of the research course work, honors students participate in regular group meetings in which they share their research with each other and supervising faculty, and receive guidance on formulating testable hypotheses, experimental design, report writing, and oral presentations. They also receive training in the responsible conduct of research. Experimental research may not be credited toward honors in more than one major.

Minor Options

A minor in Neuroscience is not offered. The College offers a minor program in Computational Neuroscience, and students majoring in Biological Sciences have the option of completing a Specialization in Neuroscience.

Neuroscience Courses

NSCI 00292. Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Research Thesis and Seminar

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Grove     Terms Offered: Summer
Prerequisite(s): Acceptance into the Neuroscience Honors Program

NSCI 20100. Neuroscience Laboratory. 100 Units.

This course has three components in series, representing (1) molecular neuroscience, (2) cellular electrophysiology, and (3) computation and psychophysics. The course meets one afternoon each week for four hours of laboratory time, including a didactic introduction. Students will be graded on their laboratory reports.

Instructor(s): J. Maunsell; E. Heckscher; C. Hansel; M. McNulty     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): This course will be offered in the 2017–18 academic year and each year thereafter.

NSCI 20110. Fundamental Neuroscience. 100 Units.

This course is a rigorous introduction to the study of neurons, nervous systems and brains. The systems anatomy and physiology of the vertebrate brain will be covered in depth. Common features of neural circuits, such as those subserving the stretch reflex, will be examined. The biology of brain evolution and development will be introduced. A highlight of this course will be student dissections of sheep brains and the laboratory presentation of human brain dissections by the instructors.

Instructor(s): C. Ragsdale, P. Mason      Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): At least two quarters of Biological Sciences instruction (including courses taken concurrently) or consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 24110

NSCI 20120. Cellular Neuroscience. 100 Units.

This course describes the cellular and subcellular properties of neurons, including passive and active electrophysiological properties, and their synaptic interactions.  Readings are assigned from a general neuroscience textbook. 

Instructor(s): R. A. Eatock, W. Wei, Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): NSCI 20110, along with completion of MATH 13100, or MATH 15100, or MATH 16100
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 24120

NSCI 20130. Systems Neurobiology. 100 Units.

This course covers vertebrate and invertebrate systems neuroscience with a focus on the anatomy, physiology, and development of sensory and motor control systems. The neural bases of form and motion perception, locomotion, memory, and other forms of neural plasticity are examined in detail. We also discuss clinical aspects of neurological disorders.

Instructor(s): D. Freedman, Staff      Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): NSCI 20110, and NSCI 20120 or consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 24130

NSCI 20140. Sensation and Perception. 100 Units.

What we see and hear depends on energy that enters the eyes and ears, but what we actually experience—perception—follows from human neural responses. This course focuses on visual and auditory phenomena, including basic percepts (for example, acuity, brightness, color, loudness, pitch) and also more complex percepts such as movement and object recognition. Biological underpinnings of perception are an integral part of the course.

Instructor(s): K. Ledoux     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PSYC 20700

NSCI 29100. Neuroscience Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Scholar or Research Thesis.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter
Prerequisite(s): By consent of instructor and approval of major director.

NSCI 29101. Neuroscience Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Scholar or Research Thesis.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter
Prerequisite(s): NSCI 29100, and consent of instructor, and approval of major director.

NSCI 29102. Neuroscience Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Scholar or Research Thesis.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter
Prerequisite(s): NSCI 29100, and consent of instructor, and approval of major director.

NSCI 29200. Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Research Thesis and Seminar.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter
Prerequisite(s): By consent of instructor and approval of major director. Open to Neuroscience majors who are candidates for honors in Neuroscience.

NSCI 29201. Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Research Thesis and Seminar.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter
Prerequisite(s): NSCI 29200, and consent of instructor, and approval of major director. Open to Neuroscience majors who are candidates for honors in Neuroscience.

NSCI 29202. Neuroscience Honors Thesis Research. 100 Units.

Research Thesis and Seminar.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Summer,Winter
Prerequisite(s): NSCI 20201, and consent of instructor, and approval of major director. Open to Neuroscience majors who are candidates for honors in Neuroscience.


Contacts

Undergraduate Primary Contact

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Peggy Mason
SBRI J239
773.702.3144
Email

Administrative Contact

Administrator
Stephanie L. Thomas
5812 S. Ellis, P-421
773.702.7388
Email