Required for the Major

The major includes required background and foundations courses, electives, and senior work. Required background courses in biology, psychology, and chemistry, establish a foundation in science necessary for upper-level study. Foundation courses teach students to approach neuroscience from three intellectually different, but related directions. Elective courses offer opportunities to explore a wide variety of neuroscience related areas. Senior work requires all majors to integrate their specific training through research or a senior seminar.  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. 

Please note that in accordance with the general college policy regarding interdisciplinary majors, majors in Neuroscience cannot declare more than one minor.

Required Background Courses

  • PSYC 0105 Introduction to Psychology
  • BIOL 0145 Cell Biology and Genetics
  • CHEM 0103 General Chemistry I or CHEM 0104 General Chemistry II or CHEM 0107 Advanced General Chemistry
  • PSYC 0201 Psychological Statistics or BIOL 0211 Experimental Design and Statistical Analysis or STAT 0116 Introduction to Statistical Science or STAT 0201 Advanced Introduction to Statistical and Data Sciences . (The program strongly recommends that majors take PSYC 0201 or BIOL 0211, unless they have special interests that favor taking STAT 0116 or STAT 0201.)   
  • PSYC 0105, CHEM 0103, and BIOL 0145 should be taken as early as possible.  
  • We strongly recommend that PSYC 0201 or BIOL 0211 be taken by the end of the third year.

Foundations Courses

All are required:

  • NSCI 0251 Fundamentals of Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (Not open to seniors) 
  • NSCI 0252 Fundamentals of Behavioral Neuroscience (Currently only open to NSCI Majors with the prerequisites of PSYC 0105 and NSCI 0251)


Majors must take three electives chosen from within or across the Biological, Psychological, or Philosophical groupings below:

Biological Studies of Neuroscience

  • BIOL 0216 Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 0235 Sexual Selection
  • BIOL 0270 Neural Disorders
  • BIOL 0305 Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 0333 Receptor Biology
  • BIOL 0350 Endocrinology
  • BIOL 0370 Animal Physiology
  • NSCI 0200 Pioneers of the Brain
  • NSCI 0225 Brain Evolution
  • NSCI 0320 Clinical Neuroscience
  • NSCI 0345 Neurodevelopment

Psychological Studies of Neuroscience

  • PSYC 0202 Research Methods
  • PSYC/NSCI 0205 Emotions
  • PSYC/NSCI 0206 Brain Plasticity
  • PSYC/NSCI 0227 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC/NSCI 0302 Conditioning and Learning
  • PSYC/NSCI 0303 Sensation and Perception
  • PSYC/NSCI 0309 Psychopharmacology
  • PSYC/NSCI 0317 Biobehavioral Addiction
  • PSYC/NSCI 0343 Behavioral Genetics
  • PSYC/NSCI 0353 Social Neuroscience
  • RELI/PSYC 0209 Mindfulness and Psychology
  • LNGT 0226 Phonetics & Phonology

Philosophical Studies of Neuroscience

  • PHIL 0214 Science and Society
  • PHIL 0216 Science and the Quest for Truth
  • PHIL 0220 Knowledge and Reality
  • PHIL 0230 Moral Psychology (formerly PHIL 0310)
  • PHIL 0252 Philosophy of Mind
  • PHIL 0280 Semantics, Logic, and Cognition
  • PHIL 0316 Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL/LNGT 0354 Philosophy of Language
  • PHIL 0360 Consciousness
  • RELI/PHIL 0320 Yogacara Depth Psychology and Philosophy of Mind 

Senior Work

A senior seminar in a neuroscience area, approved by the program. Offerings vary year by year, but possible courses include: 

  • BIOL/NSCI 0420 Neurogenetics
  • BIOL 0475 Neuroplasticity
  • BIOL/NSCI 0480 Neurobiology
  • NSCI 0410 Neural Coding
  • NSCI 0425 Methods in Neuroscience
  • PSYC 0408 Family in Psychology
  • PSYC/NSCI 0414 Rhythms of the Brain
  • PSYC/NSCI 0418 Psychobio & Sex Diff. Critique
  • PSYC/NSCI 0430 Memory: A User’s Guide
  • PSYC/NSCI 0434 Genes, Brain and Behavior
  • PSYC/NSCI 0437 Social/Emotional Brain or a NSCI relevant BIOL, PSYC or PHIL 0400 level course approved in advance by the NSCI Program) OR senior research (NSCI 0500, NSCI 0700 and NSCI 0701)

If a student completes their senior work by taking NSCI 0500/0700/0701, they may use one (and only one) senior seminar as an elective towards the major. In that case the seminar will be counted as an elective only after NSCI 0500/0700/0701 is completed.   However, if a student fulfills their senior work requirement using a senior seminar, they may not count an additional senior seminar as an elective, unless approved by the instructor in consultation with the program director

During winter term and as course offerings change there may be others that are available for NSCI seminar credit.  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.

Neuroscience does not allow joint majors.

Independent Research and Program Honors

Majors are encouraged to undertake independent research (NSCI 0500, NSCI 0700, NSCI 0701) with any faculty member in the program. Students considering any senior research should begin conversations with faculty early in their junior year. Those eligible for honors in neuroscience must (1) complete at least two semesters of thesis-related research (one term of NSCI 0500 or NSCI 0700 and one term of NSCI 0701); (2) have a minimum GPA of 3.3 in major courses (excluding NSCI 0500/0700/0701); (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 composed of at least two Neuroscience faculty members, plus others as needed who may recommend High Honors after considering these five components of a thesis.

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, with the exception of courses satisfying the Fundamentals of Philosophical Neuroscience requirement, the required courses listed for the major specifically by number (i.e. PSYC 0105, BIOL 0145, PSYC 0201 or BIOL 0211, NSCI 0251, NSCI 0252) would be completed at Middlebury. Students may satisfy the Fundamentals of Philosophical Neuroscience requirement by means of an equivalent course taken abroad, but should seek approval for this course before going abroad.  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.

Advanced Placement

Psychology Department placement exam: Students who receive a passing score on the Psychology Department placement exam may bypass PSYC 0105, however they will need to take an additional elective to fulfill their Neuroscience Requirements. (More details can be found on the Psychology Requirements page.)

Statistics AP Exam: Students matriculating Fall 2016 or later may not use the Statistics AP Examination in place of taking PSYC 0201 (Psychological Statistics) or BIOL 0211 (Biostats). Credit for PSYC 0201 is given to students matriculating prior to Fall 2016 who achieve a score of 4 or 5 on the Statistics AP Examination. These students do not need to take an additional course for the major.  

Chemistry AP and Placement Exam: Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP Exam, or who pass the Chemistry Department Placement Exam, may bypass CHEM 0103 and take CHEM 0104 or CHEM 0107 instead.

Credit/No Credit

In accordance with handbook guidelines, courses taken under the Credit/No Credit option may not be used to satisfy major requirements, with one exception: a first course taken under the Credit/No Credit option in a department or program in which a student subsequently declares a major or minor may, with the approval of the department chair or program director, be counted toward major requirements.

Accordingly, the NSCI program director permits the following:
If PSYC 0105 is taken CR/NCR, the student must take an additional elective for a grade
If CHEM 0103 is taken CR/NCR, the student must then take CHEM 0104 or CHEM 0107 for a grade
If BIOL 0145 is taken CR/NCR, the student must take an additional elective for a grade
PYSC 0201/BIOL 0211/STAT 0116 cannot be taken CR/NCR