Division of Biology and Medicine
Department of Neuroscience

Concentration Requirements

Learn more about academic requirements for the undergraduate concentration in neuroscience.

Review the tabs below for information on how to fulfill the requirements of the concentration in neuroscience.

Declaring a concentration in Neuroscience requires some homework on your part and a bit of paperwork by all of us. 

  1. Acquaint yourself with the course requirements of the concentration and with other relevant courses offered at Brown that might form part of your program. You can also discuss the concentration at open houses in the Department of Neuroscience and with department representatives at various informational sessions held during the year or reach out to the Neuroscience Education Program Manager with questions or to set up a pre-advisor meeting.
  2. Lay out a schedule, semester by semester, of the courses you will need to complete the concentration during your remaining years at Brown. Make sure that courses taken in the same semester are given at different times, paying close attention to laboratories. Make sure that you have arranged to complete the prerequisites for the courses you schedule. You may use the Course Plan Worksheet as a guide.
  3. Please email neuroundergrad@brown.edu be assigned a concentration advisor. You and your new advisor will be sent an email as confirmation; in addition, you will be pre-assigned to your advisor on the ASK (Advising Sidekick) online concentration declaration system.
  4. Make an appointment to see this advisor to discuss your plans and preferences.
  5. After consulting with your advisor, using the ASK online forms, you should officially declare your concentration. Once completed, your concentration declaration will automatically be sent to your concentration advisor for approval.
  6. Changes in your concentration courses can be made but this should never be done without first consulting your concentration advisor. You are responsible for the consequences of any changes made without departmental approval.

The following courses are required for a Neuroscience concentration:

Background Courses

  • MATH0090 and MATH0100 or equivalent
  • CHEM0330 and CHEM0350 (or higher)
  • PHYS0030 and PHYS0040 or equivalent*
  • BIOL0200 or equivalent*

*For equivalents, see Frequently Asked Questions.

Basic Lecture Series

  • NEUR0010: The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience
  • NEUR1020: Principles of Neurobiology
  • NEUR1030: Neural Systems

Research Methods

  • Statistics: 1 approved course (see below)
  • Laboratory methods: 1 approved course (see below)

Critical Reading Course

  • 1 approved course (see below)

Four Thematic Electives

See FAQs for more guidance on electives, including a list of approved and commonly used courses.

The following courses are approved for concentration credit in their respective categories (however other courses may also be suitable, check with your advisor):

Statistics Courses

PHP0501, PHP1501, PHP1510, PHP2510, APMA0640, APMA0650, APMA1650, CLPS0900, SOC1100, EDUC1110, EDUC1230, BIOL0495

Laboratory Methods Courses

  • NEUR0680: Computational Neuroscience
  • NEUR1440: Neural Dynamics (when a lab component is offered)
  • NEUR1600: Experimental Neurobiology
  • NEUR1630: Big Data Neuroscience Lab
  • NEUR1640: Behavioral Neurogenetics Lab
  • NEUR1650: Structure of the Nervous System
  • NEUR1660: Neural Computation in Learning & Decision 
  • NEUR1670: Neuropharmacology 
  • NEUR1680: Computational Neuroscience
  • NEUR1970: Independent Laboratory Research (two semesters)
  • CLPS1190: Techniques in Physiological Psychology
  • CLPS1194: Sleep and Chronobiology Research
  • CLPS1490: fMRI: Theory and Practice
  • CLPS1491: Neural Modeling Laboratory
  • CLPS1492: Laboratory in Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
  • BIOL0800: Principles of Physiology
  • BIOL1170: Mammalian Physiology
  • BIOL1880: Comparative Biology of the Vertebrates

Critical Reading Courses (list is not limited to these courses)

  • NEUR1440: Neural Dynamics
  • NEUR1510: Neurotechnology: Molecular Tools and Methods for Neurobiology
  • NEUR1530: Communication In the Brain: What We Know and How We Know It
  • NEUR1560: Developmental Neurobiology
  • NEUR1660: Neural Computation in Learning & Decision
  • NEUR1930: Topics in Neuroscience
  • NEUR1940: Topics in Neuroscience
  • NEUR1970: Independent Laboratory Research (two semesters)
  • BIOL1100: Cell Physiology and Biophysics
  • BIOL1110: Topics in Signal Transduction
  • BIOL1190: Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity
  • CLPS1400: The Neural Bases of Cognition
  • CLPS1760: The Moral Brain
  • PHP1890: The Craving Mind

Note: Two semesters of independent study can replace only one course for the concentration (Critical Reading, Lab Methods, or an Elective)

Some Important Notes on Choosing Your Intro Courses

There are several possible ways to complete the introductory neuroscience sequence. One that works well is when students take Neuro 10, in the fall of their first year, Bio 200 later that spring, and then take Neur 1030 and 1020 their sophomore year. This gives them the best possible preparation for 1030 and 1020, which are a bit more demanding. Many other students opt to take Neur 1020 the spring of their freshman year and then 1030 next fall. While students who do this sequence typically do just as well, they sometimes lose some of the more complicated aspects of 1020. It is also important to remind students that both 1020 and 1030 can count towards a biology concentration, so they are not committing to neuroscience by taking these classes. For both of these courses it is essential students go to all the lectures and complete the assignments.

Completing the Concentration Research Requirement

As with other ScB concentrations, neuroscience concentrators are required (beginning with the class of 2023) to do the equivalent of one semester of independent study, research or design. This is a chance for the student to explore and apply the concepts that they have learned in their concentration courses. The following are ways in which this research requirement can be met.

  1. Enrolling in independent study courses (NEUR 1970, CLPS 1970/80 or BIO 1950/60) for work in a lab. Keep in mind to count this towards your concentration two semesters or one semester and a summer are required.
  2. Enrolling in independent study (NEUR 1970) to work with a faculty member to explore an integrative topic related to neuroscience. See our section on independent study for more information.
  3. Enrolling in a course-based research experience, also known as a CURE course. Current related CURE courses are NEUR 1630, NEUR 1640, CLPS 1195, CLPS 1591, but there might be new ones coming down the pipeline.
  4. Participating in a structured summer research program (eg. an UTRA or an REU) that is equivalent in scope and scale as would be pursued during a semester of independent research.
  5. Participating in a research-focused Fall or Spring UTRA
  6. Pursue a design or independent research project related to neuroscience that could be associated with a different course.
  7. Anyone writing an honors thesis automatically fulfils the research requirement, in order to document your research requirement, please describe your plan in your Concentration Agreement and in ASK, be sure to discuss it with your concentration advisor to make sure it is appropriate.

Certain courses in other departments may satisfy this requirement with written approval of NUCC.