Majoring in Neuroscience at Amherst

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The Neuroscience major consists of science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology, plus senior comprehensives, which in some years includes attending neuroscience seminars. 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). Here are our Learning Goals, information on Study Abroad and thoughts on Animal Experimentation.

Requirements for the major

Enrolling in the major

Amherst College requires enrollment in a major before the start of Fall classes in the junior year. Prospective Neuroscience Majors may not enroll until just prior to the enrollment deadline of the college (typically the second to last week of the spring semester of sophomore year) in order to reach near completion of the NEUR-213 course (and possibly NEUR-214 if taken during the prior fall semester).

Interested majors should submit to the chair of the Neuroscience Program the following two documents:

  1. A one-page plan (a table is fine) with your future coursework in the neuroscience major (refer to major requirements and sample schedules). While the exact courses change from semester to semester, you should roughly lay out your plan for completing the course requirements for the major. You should note if you are planning to double major, study abroad, and whether you’re considering thesis work in your senior year.
  2. Major Declaration form signed by you and your current advisor

These two documents should be submitted to the current Chair of the Neuroscience Program (found on the Neuro Faculty & Staff webpage). The Neuro Program will then forward your form to the Registrar.

Important points about the major

  • MAJORING: To major in Neuroscience, it's necessary to get started with general science courses in the first year (see these sample course schedules of recent Neuroscience majors).
  • INTRODUCTORY COURSES: All prospective Neuroscience majors must take Behavioral Neuroscience with Lab (NEUR-213) in the Spring of their sophomore year. In the Fall of either sophomore or junior year, all neuroscience majors must take Neurobiology (NEUR-214). Note: It is not possible to major in Neuroscience if these introductory courses are not completed before Spring of junior year. 
  • STUDY ABROAD: Potential neuroscience majors may signup for a study abroad program prior* to their enrollment in the neuroscience major. Please note that it is critical to discuss your study abroad plans with both your current advisor and a neuroscience professor.  (*approved by the study abroad office; See the Study Abroad page)
  • DOUBLE MAJORING: Majoring in Neuroscience and another discipline is possible, but difficulties and problems sometimes arise. (see the Double majors page)
  • PRE-REGISTRATION: Majors must preregister for all courses they will use to satisfy requirements for the major, rather than to assume that they will be guaranteed entry into a course during the add/drop period if they did not preregister for it (e.g., you must preregister for NEUR-213, NEUR-214 etc..).
  • GRADES: Any course in which a student has not received a letter grade better than "D" may not be counted towards the Neuroscience major.

In addition to being a rewarding major, Neuroscience is one of the more academically demanding majors at Amherst College. Neuroscience has a large number of required courses, and among the largest number of required laboratory courses. We point this out not to discourage anyone from majoring, but so that students have a realistic view when considering enrolling and are aware that scheduling can be difficult.