Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses



Neuroscience Advisory Committee: Professors Baird, Cohen, Kim, Trapani †, Turgeon (Chair), Visiting Assistant Professor Roche.

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Clotfelter and Goutte.

The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which includes attending neuroscience seminars and a comprehensive examination. Neuroscience majors may also choose to do a senior honors research project in the laboratory of a Neuroscience faculty member or affiliated Biology faculty member (and in some cases a faculty member from UMass-Amherst). Neuroscience majors must preregister for all courses that they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than assume they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR 301 and/or NEUR 351). Courses in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" are not counted towards the Neuroscience major.

To receive Advanced Placement (AP) in a neuroscience course, you must have fulfilled the following requirements:

Chemistry: with a Chemistry AP score of 4 or 5, follow the recommendation made during orientation (many students with AP credit still take CHEM 151).Math: you may place out MATH 111 with a score of 4 or 5 on the AB exam or a 3 on the BC exam. In this case, you still need to satisfy the Physics/Mathematics requirement with a higher-level.Biology: you may place out of BIOL 191 with a score of 5 on the Biology AP exam. In this case you must substitute BIOL 251 or BIOL 291 for BIOL 191.

Neuroscience majors must complete the following requirements:

(1) General science requirements:

Chemistry: All of the following:

CHEM 151 (or 155)CHEM 161CHEM 221 (most majors also take CHEM 231)


BIOL 191Note: BIOL 181 is optional for Neuroscience, but should be considered by students in their first year that are considering majoring in Biology or Neuroscience but haven't decided between them yet.

Statistics: One of the following:

STAT 111 (formerly MATH 130) orMATH/STAT 135 orSTAT 230 (formerly MATH 230) orBIOL 210 orPSYC 122

Physics/Mathematics: At least two of the following courses:

PHYS 116, 117, 123, 124MATH 111, 121, 211If you have Advanced Placement in any of these subjects, take more advanced courses.MATH 111 or Advanced Placement (at least 4 on AB or 3 on BC) is a prerequisite for CHEM 161 and PHYS 117.The Statistics requirement above is a separate requirement and does not count towards this Physics/Math requirement.

(2) Introduction to Neuroscience course:

Neuroscience Majors must take the following two courses:

NEUR 213: Neuroscience: Systems and Behavior (with lab)NEUR 214: Neurobiology (non lab)Note: The NEUR 213 course must be taken in the spring semester of your sophomore year. The NEUR 214 course may be taken in the fall of either sophomore or junior year but must be completed prior to the end of junior year.

(3) Upper-level Behavioral Neuroscience:

One of the following seminar courses:

NEUR 325 PsychopharmacologyNEUR 356 Neurophysiology of Motivation

(4) Upper-level Cellular/Molecular Neuroscience:

One of the following lab courses:

NEUR 301 Molecular Neurobiology with laboratoryNEUR 351 Neurophysiology with laboratory

(5) Upper-level Human Neuroscience:

Neuroscience Majors must take one of the following courses:

NEUR 361 Consciousness and the BrainNEUR 367 Human Neuroscience

(6) Upper-level Elective:

One additional upper-level elective from the following courses:

An additional behavioral neuroscience course from item (3) aboveAn additional molecular/cellular neuroscience course from item (4) aboveAn additional human neuroscience course from item (5) aboveNEUR 350 Neurophysiology (non-lab section of NEUR 351)NEUR 425 Systems NeuroscienceNEUR 450 Seminar in PhysiologyBIOL 221 Developmental Biology (w/ lab)BIOL 241 Genetic Analysis (w/ lab)BIOL 251 Molecular Genetics (w/ lab)BIOL 260 Animal PhysiologyBIOL 271 Microbiology (w/ lab)BIOL 281 Animal Behavior (w/ lab)BIOL 291 Cell Structure and Function (w/ lab)BIOL 331 Biochemistry (w/ lab)BIOL 381 Genome Biology (w/ lab)BIOL/NEUR 411 Seminar in Synapses: Synaptic Development and PlasticityPSYC 233 Cognitive PsychologyPSYC 234 MemoryPSYC 236 Psychology of AgingPSYC 357 History of Psychiatry

* On leave 2022-23.† On leave fall semester 2022-23. ‡ On leave spring semester 2022-23.

117 Pleasure and Addiction

​This course will explore the brain mechanisms underlying motivated behaviors and the dysfunctions that can lead to addictive and compulsive behaviors. Why can some people be casual gamblers while others are hooked into a spiral of addiction after just one betting experience? Are these the same brain circuits as those affected by drugs, and can we look to them to also understand eating disorders, pathological social media use, etc.? The course will use a neurobiological orientation to study the neurocircuitry and neurochemistry underlying addiction in its many forms. We will explore topics in motivation considering theories of motivation and addiction; how drugs such as opiates, stimulants, and depressants function in the brain to lead to addictive behaviors; and how cravings, hedonics, and withdrawal influence addiction. We will also explore the roles of stress, fear, and inflammation in the development of addiction. The neural systems underlying basic learning processes such as conditioning and habit formation will be reviewed and we will assess how they become dysfunctional in addiction. Finally, what is the role of decision-making in sustaining or resisting addiction—why is the decision to quit, made with the strongest of convictions, often not enough? The merits and limitations of current approaches to treatment will be evaluated with the goal of finding what more is needed and ways to achieve it. The readings and discussions will be based on primary research articles published in scientific journals. ​This course is for non-science majors and will not count toward the Neuroscience major.

Spring semester. Professor Baird

245 Systems Neuroscience

The course will survey behavioral neurobiological systems. Students will explore recent research findings in areas pertaining to the role of neural circuits in several behavioral processes including but not limited to echolocation, mating, prey location, flight control, spatial navigation, song development in birds, mineral appetites, social functions, aggression, and learning and memory mechanisms in several species. Through instructor supervision, discussion, group presentations, and peer review, each student develops a specific research project that results in a research proposal. The course will place significant emphasis on the development of writing skills. Key goals of the course are to prepare juniors for upper-level seminars and to provide an intensive literature-research and writing experience. This course will count as a Group A/List A elective course for the neuroscience major.

Limited to juniors and seniors who have taken NEUR 226 or NEUR 213/214 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Baird.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

313 Social Neuroendocrinology with Lab

(See BIOL 313)

317 Appetite

(Offered as NEUR 317 and PSYC 317) Although the ingestive act per se is clear and simple, understanding the multifarious influences that are distilled into the decision at any given moment to eat, or not to eat, remains a ponderous challenge for scientists. The obesity epidemic of the last several decades continues to spread across the globe, leading to a rise in metabolic diseases and more pressing need than ever to understand the neurobiological controls of eating and body weight. Through a broad survey of neurobiological research literature, we will explore how various neurobiological systems and behavioral processes influence eating and body weight, including metabolism, neural mechanisms of hunger and satiety, metabolic disorders, dieting, pica, failure to thrive, starvation, taste preference and aversion, obesity, anxiety and depression, food taboos, and all eating disorders. Strong emphasis will be placed on biological mechanisms and controlled laboratory research with both human and animal subjects.

Requisite: PSYC212 or NEUR 213. Limited to 20 students. Open to juniors and seniors. Fall semester. Prof. Baird.  

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Spring 2025

498, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Spring semester. The Committee.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Senior Departmental Honors Courses

498D, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

Research in an area relevant to neuroscience, under the direction of a faculty member, and preparation of a thesis based upon the research.

Spring semester. The Committee.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025