Neuroscience Major | Neuroscience Minor

General Distribution Requirement

Many required courses in the Neuroscience major meet various general distribution requirements. Please refer to the department in which they are offered for specific information.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S. identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar's web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects and internships. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Neuroscience Major

Major Requirements

The neuroscience major consists of 15 courses, including the completion of a capstone experience. The distribution of courses presented for the major should conform to the following pattern:

Early Required Courses (7 courses)

These courses provide a foundation in the sciences that are needed for studying the brain; and present the mathematical tools needed for work in neuroscience. Many of these courses are prerequisites for later courses and therefore should be completed as early as possible, ideally before the end of the sophomore year.

CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I: Structure and Equilibrium
CHEM 112 - General Chemistry II: Energetics and Reactivity
(CHEM 115 - Accelerated General Chemistry can substitute for CHEM 111 and CHEM 112)
BIOL 255 - Cell Biology and Genetics Laboratory Methods; 2 credits (taken concurrently with either BIOL 190 or BIOL 200)
BIOL 190 - Genetics
BIOL 200 - Cell Biology
STAT 155 - Introduction to Statistical Modeling
PSYC 100 - Introduction to Psychology or PSYC 180 - Brain, Mind, and Behavior

Intermediate Required Courses (2 courses)

These courses provide coverage of the biological basis of behavior from cellular-molecular and systems-level perspectives. It is recommended that students take these courses as soon as they have the necessary prerequisites, ideally before the end of the junior year.

BIOL 316 - Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
PSYC 248 - Behavioral Neuroscience

Intermediate Elective Courses (2 courses; must take 1 Biology and 1 Psychology)

These courses provide opportunities to explore different approaches to the study of neuroscience.

BIOL 304 - Neuroanatomy
BIOL 300 - Human Physiology
PSYC 240 - Principles of Learning and Behavior
PSYC 244 - Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC 246 - Exploring Sensation and Perception

Advanced Elective Courses (2 courses; must take 1 Biology and 1 Psychology)

These courses provide in-depth coverage of neuroscience topics at an advanced level. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) fulfill the multi-draft paper requirement for the capstone. Courses marked with a hash mark (#) may fulfill the multi-draft paper requirement for the capstone if the paper is on a neuroscience topic and approved by the Program Director. Courses marked with a caret (^) fulfill the research requirement for the capstone. Upper-level topics courses in neuroscience may count as advanced electives with approval of the steering committee.

BIOL 357 - Immunology #
BIOL 364 - Neuroimmunology
BIOL 369 - Developmental Biology #
BIOL 473 - Research in Immunology ^
BIOL 400 - Seminar in Neuropharmacology *
BIOL 406 - Seminar in Immunology
PSYC 382 - Hormones and Behavior *
PSYC 385 - Mind Reading: Understanding Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging *
PSYC 390 - Pain and Suffering #
PSYC 450 - Research in Hemisphere Asymmetries *^

Explorations Course (1 course)

This course provides an opportunity for students to explore the way neuroscience influences and is influenced by other fields. Other suitable courses approved by the neuroscience steering committee may also be used to fulfill this requirement.

BIOL 180 - Biodiversity and Evolution
BIOL 365 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
COMP 484 - Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
ECON 490 - Behavioral and Experimental Economics
PHIL 213 - Philosophy of Mind
PSYC 242 - Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 252 - Distress, Dysfunction, and Disorder: Perspectives on the DSM
PSYC 378 - Psychology of Language
STAT 253 - Statistical Machine Learning

Capstone Experience

The capstone experience for the neuroscience major consists of 3 components: (1) completion of the capstone course (NSCI 488) during the fall or spring of senior year; (2) participation in a research or internship experience after the sophomore year; and (3) completion of a multi-draft paper in an advanced course taken after the sophomore year. Details about these components are provided below.

(1) Capstone course

Taken during the senior year, this 2-credit course provides a forum for students to prepare for post-graduation opportunities, and create the poster that each will present at the Neuroscience Poster Session held every spring. Students' posters will have a central focus on neuroscience and be based on the research/internship experience, the multi-draft paper, or related coursework to be approved by the capstone course instructor. At least one of these components must be completed before the capstone course is taken.

(2) Research or internship experience

Students will gain familiarity with the process of research and/or the application of neuroscience to specific problems through participation in a research or internship experience consisting of 150 hours of work or more. The requirement may be fulfilled in a variety of ways (which may or may not be credit bearing), including an off-campus internship, on- or off-campus research/independent project, summer or study-away research, or by taking a research-intensive course (e.g., BIOL 473 - Research in Immunology or PSYC 450 - Research in Hemisphere Asymmetries), which may also count as an advanced elective course. Work-study experiences, however, do not typically fulfill this requirement. While students are encouraged to have research or internship experiences as early as possible, only experiences conducted after the sophomore year will count towards the requirement. In addition, unless they are completing this requirement in a research-intensive course, students must complete the experience before their last semester at Macalester. Students will consult with a neuroscience faculty member to determine an appropriate experience based on their plans and goals.

(3) Multi-draft paper

Students will write a multi-draft paper during an advanced course or independent project taken after the sophomore year. Courses that fulfill this requirement are denoted with asterisks or hash marks under 'Advanced Elective Courses' above and will be listed as such on the Registrar's web page.

Neuroscience Minor

Minor Requirements

The neuroscience minor consists of 7 courses, distributed as follows.

Introductory Courses (3 courses)

BIOL 255 - Cell Biology and Genetics Laboratory Methods
BIOL 200 - Cell Biology
PSYC 100 - Introduction to Psychology or PSYC 180 - Brain, Mind, and Behavior

Elective Courses (4 courses)

Four of the following courses with at least one from Biology and one from Psychology. Topics courses with a neuroscience focus may also be counted with approval of the Neuroscience Steering Committee.

BIOL 316 - Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
BIOL 304 - Neuroanatomy
BIOL 364 - Neuroimmunology
BIOL 400 - Seminar in Neuropharmacology
PSYC 244 - Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC 246 - Exploring Sensation and Perception
PSYC 248 - Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 382 - Hormones and Behavior
PSYC 385 - Mind Reading: Understanding Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
PSYC 390 - Pain and Suffering
PSYC 450 - Research in Hemisphere Asymmetries