Required for the major: The major includes required background courses, upper-level courses, and senior study. Required background courses in biology, psychology, and chemistry, establish a foundation in science necessary for upper-level study. Upper-level core courses in biology, psychology, and philosophy teach students to approach neuroscience broadly from intellectually different directions. Upper-level elective courses offer opportunities to explore a wide variety of specific topics. Senior study requires all majors to integrate their specific training through research or a senior seminar.
Required Background Courses:
BIOL 0145 Cell Biology and Genetics
NSCI/BIOL 0216 Animal Behavior (completion recommended before end of sophomore year)
CHEM 0103 Fundamentals of Chemistry 1
PSYC 0105 Introduction to Psychology
PSYC 0201 Psychological Statistics or BIOL 0211 Experimental Design and Analysis
Upper-Level Core Courses:
NSCI/BIOL 0370 Animal Physiology
PHIL 0352 Philosophy of the Mind or PHIL 0360 Consciousness or PHIL 0362 Philosophy of Psychology
NSCI/PSYC 0301 Physiological Psychology (complete before end of Junior year)
Three electives to be chosen from (NSCI/BIOL 0225; NSCI/BIOL 0235; NSCI/BIOL 0270; BIOL 0305; NSCI/BIOL 0350; PHIL 0352, PHIL 0360, or PHIL 0362 (at least one must be taken as a required course); NSCI/PSYC 0302; NSCI/PSYC 0305; NSCI/PSYC 0309; NSCI/PSYC 0311). During winter term and as course offerings change there may be other electives in BIOL, PHIL, or PSYC that are available for NSCI elective credit.
Senior Study: A Senior Seminar (from NSCI/BIOL 0475, NSCI/BIOL 0480; NSCI/PSYC 0411; NSCI/PSYC 0419; NSCI/PSYC 0430; NSCI/PSYC 0433; NSCI/PSYC 0435; or a PHIL 0400-level senior seminar, if approved in advance) OR independent research (NSCI 0500 or NSCI 0700 and NSCI 0701). During winter term and as course offerings change there may be other seminars in BIOL, PHIL, or PSYC that are available for NSCI seminar credit.
Note: If students elect to pursue independent research (NSCI 0500 or NSCI 0700 and NSCI 0701), then a 0400-level senior seminar may fulfill one of the three required upper-level electives.
Students may be exempt from some introductory courses through placement or bypass exams. For more information on placing out of a specific course, contact the chairperson of the relevant department. Seniors can do research with any faculty in the program, or with certain faculty in other departments provided the research project is approved by the neuroscience faculty and the project is related to understanding the nervous system and the mind.
Optional Cognate Courses
Note: there are several optional cognates desirable for those considering post-baccalaureate study. For example, those interested in the health professions or graduate study in neuroscience may wish to take some or all of the following courses. Students should consult with their advisor for assistance.
BIOL 0140 Ecology and Evolution
CHEM 0104 Fundamentals of Chemistry 2
MATH 0121 Calculus 1
MATH 0122 Calculus 2
CHEM 0241 Organic Chemistry 1
CHEM 0242 Organic Chemistry 2
CHEM 0322 Biochemistry of Macromolecules
PHYS 0109 Mechanics
PHYS 0110 Electricity and Magnetism
Study Abroad: Study abroad can be a valuable experience that is encouraged, though majors must consult with the Office of Off-Campus Study and their advisor about the advisability of specific programs. Because the requirements for the NSCI major are complex, we recommend that students study abroad for a single term rather than an entire year. It is expected that the required courses listed for the major specifically by number (i.e. BIOL 0145, BIOL 0216, PSYC 0105, PSYC 0201 or BIOL 0211, BIOL 0370, PSYC 0301, PHIL 0352, PHIL 0360, or PHIL 0362) would be completed at Middlebury. However, NSCI electives may be taken abroad if they are determined to satisfy program requirements and are approved by the advisor and program director. Students generally receive major credit for a maximum of two courses taken abroad. The NSCI program does not grant major credit for Independent Study projects completed abroad.
Program Honors: Majors are encouraged to undertake independent research (NSCI 0500, NSCI 0700) with any faculty member in the program (primary or resource). Students considering any senior research should begin conversations with faculty early in their junior year. Those eligible for high honors in neuroscience must (1) complete at least two semesters of thesis-related research (at least one term of NSCI0700 and one term of NSCI 0701); (2) have a minimum GPA of 3.3 in major courses (excluding NSCI 0700/0701); (3) present a public seminar describing the background, methodology, results, and greater significance of their research; (4) submit a written thesis and (5) successfully defend their thesis before a committee comprised of at least two Neuroscience faculty, plus others as needed, who may recommend High Honors after considering these five components of a thesis.