Neuroscience Major, B.S.

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Visit Program Website

Davie Hall, CB# 3270

(919) 843-0174

Donald T. Lysle, Chair

dlysle@email.unc.edu

Regina M. Carelli, Associate Chair

rcarelli@email.unc.edu

Karen Gil, Associate Chair

kgil@email.unc.edu

Jeannie Loeb, Director of Undergraduate Studies

loeb@unc.edu

Desiree Griffin, Director of Undergraduate Psychology Advising

dgriffin@unc.edu

Kelly Giovanello, Director of Neuroscience Curricula

kgio@email.unc.edu

Rachel Penton, Director of Undergraduate Neuroscience Advising

pentonre@email.unc.edu

Peter Gordon, Director of Cognitive Science Minor

pcg@email.unc.edu

Kaitlin Blakemore, Student Services Manager

blakek@email.unc.edu

Christopher Coffey, Undergraduate Instructional Program Coordinator

ctcoffey@email.unc.edu

Neuroscience embodies the liberal arts experience as it draws on techniques and findings from several academic disciplines including biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, and psychology. This program provides students with the fundamental knowledge and exposure needed to pursue careers and post-graduate studies in fields related to psychology, human development and aging, health and disease, rehabilitation, biomedical research, human-machine interactions, and other emerging disciplines.

The neuroscience major is open to all undergraduate students.

Department Programs

Majors

Minors

Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the neuroscience program, students should be able to:

  • Knowledge Base: Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and trends in neuroscience including its links to other science disciplines
  • Research Methods: Apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Demonstrate critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes
  • Application: Apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues
  • Values: Demonstrate use of empirical evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinning of neuroscience as a science

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
NSCI 175Introduction to Neuroscience (with a grade of C or better) 13
PSYC 210Statistical Principles of Psychological Research H3-4
or PSYC 215 Applied Data Science in Psychology and Neuroscience
or STOR 155 Introduction to Data Models and Inference
PSYC 270Research Methods in Psychology 23
or NSCI 276 Cellular Electrophysiology Laboratory
or NSCI 278 Molecular Imaging of the Brain
NSCI 222Learning H3
NSCI 225Sensation and Perception H3
Knowledge Electives (select at least six credit hours from list below)6
Mathematics, Methods, Statistics Electives (select at least six credit hours from list below)6
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
101L
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
4
BIOL 202Molecular Biology and Genetics H4
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
CHEM 241Modern Analytical Methods for Separation and Characterization H2
CHEM 241LLaboratory in Separations and Analytical Characterization of Organic and Biological Compounds1
CHEM 261Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H3
CHEM 262Introduction to Organic Chemistry II H3
CHEM 262LLaboratory in Organic Chemistry1
COMP 116Introduction to Scientific Programming3
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H4
MATH 232Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H4
Select one course:4
General Physics I
General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences
Mechanics H
Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity
Select one course:4
General Physics II
General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences
Electromagnetism and Optics H
Introductory Calculus-based Electromagnetism and Quanta
PSYC 101General Psychology3
Total Hours75-76
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Knowledge Electives (6 Credit Hours)

BIOL 205Cellular and Developmental Biology H4
BIOL 425Human Genetics3
BIOL 431Biological Physics3
BIOL 450Neurobiology 13
BIOL 455Behavioral Neuroscience 13
BIOL 458Sensory Neurobiology and Behavior 13
BIOL 542Light Microscopy for the Biological Sciences 13
BIOL 547Synaptic Plasticity: Analysis of Primary Literature3.0
BIOL 552Behavioral Endocrinology 13
BIOL 553Mathematical and Computational Models in Biology 13
BIOL 554Introduction to Computational Neuroscience3.0
CHEM 430Introduction to Biological Chemistry H3
COMP 401Foundation of Programming H4
COMP 410Data Structures3
COMP 411Computer Organization4
COMP 555Bioalgorithms 13
COMP 560Artificial Intelligence 13
COMP 562Introduction to Machine Learning 13
COMP 576Mathematics for Image Computing 13
COMP 581Introduction to Robotics 1, H3
COMP 631Computer Networks 13
COMP 633Parallel and Distributed Computing 13
COMP 651Computational Geometry 13
COMP 665Images, Graphics, and Vision 13
EXSS 175Human Anatomy3
EXSS 275LHuman Anatomy Laboratory1
EXSS 276Human Physiology3
EXSS 380Neuromuscular Control and Learning3
NSCI 320Neuropsychopharmacology3
NSCI 325Neuroscience of Psychiatric Disorders3
NSCI 401Animal Behavior3
NSCI 415History of Neuroscience3
NSCI 420Functional Neuroanatomy3
NSCI 421Principles of Brain Circuits3.0
NSCI 422Genetics of Brain Diseases3
NSCI 424Neural Connections: Hands on Neuroscience3
NSCI 427Neurobiology of Aging3
NSCI 428Neuroscience, Society, and the Media3
NSCI 434Cognitive Neuroscience3
NSCI 437Neurobiology of Learning and Memory3
NSCI 507Autism3
NSCI 568Emotion3
NSCI 571Social Neuroscience3
NSCI 573Neuropsychobiology of Stress3
PHYS 133How Bio Works3
PHYS 405Biological Physics3
PSYC 245Psychopathology H3
PSYC 404Clinical Psychopharmacology3
PSYC 469Evolution and Development of Biobehavioral Systems3
PSYC 517Addiction3
PSYC 559Applied Machine Learning in Psychology3
PSYC 602Evolutionary Psychology3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Mathematics, Methods, and Statistics Electives (6 Credit Hours)

BIOL 226Mathematical Methods for Quantitative Biology3
BIOL 226LMathematical Methods for Quantitative Biology Laboratory1
BIOS 500HIntroduction to Biostatistics 13
BMME 207Biomedical Electronics 14
BMME 301Human Physiology : Electrical Analysis 14
BMME 445Systems Neuroscience 13
BMME 550Medical Imaging I: Ultrasonic, Optical, and Magnetic Resonance Systems 13
COMP 283Discrete Structures 2, H3
MATH 233Calculus of Functions of Several Variables H4
MATH 347Linear Algebra for Applications3
MATH 381Discrete Mathematics 2, H3
MATH 383First Course in Differential Equations 1, H3
MATH 383LFirst Course in Differential Equations Laboratory 11
MATH 523Functions of a Complex Variable with Applications 13
MATH 528Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences I 13
MATH 528LLaboratory for Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences I 11
MATH 529Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences II 13
MATH 529LLaboratory for Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences II 11
MATH 535Introduction to Probability3
MATH 555Introduction to Dynamics 13
MATH 564Mathematical Modeling in the Life Sciences 13
MATH 566Introduction to Numerical Analysis 13
MATH 577Linear Algebra 13
MATH 661Scientific Computation I 13
MATH 662Scientific Computation II 13
MATH 668Methods of Applied Mathematics I 13
MATH 669Methods of Applied Mathematics II 13
NSCI 276Cellular Electrophysiology Laboratory 33.0
NSCI 278Molecular Imaging of the Brain 33.0
NSCI 395Independent Research3.0
NSCI 403Advanced Biopsychology Laboratory H3
NSCI 405Advanced Molecular Neuropharmacology3
NSCI 423Neurotechnology in Modern Neuroscience Research3
NSCI 493Internship in Neuroscience3.0
NSCI 693HHonors in Neuroscience I3.0
NSCI 694HHonors in Neuroscience II3.0
PSYC 533The General Linear Model in Psychology H3
STOR 215Foundations of Decision Sciences 23
STOR 415Introduction to Optimization 13
STOR 435Introduction to Probability 13
STOR 445Stochastic Modeling 13
STOR 455Methods of Data Analysis 13
STOR 555Mathematical Statistics 13
STOR 556Advanced Methods of Data Analysis 13
STOR 565Machine Learning 13
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Sample I

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
CHEM 101
101L
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
4
MATH 231 Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H 4
ENGL 105 English Composition and Rhetoric 3
Foreign language level 2 3
Lifetime Fitness 1
Hours 15
Spring Semester
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
MATH 232 Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H 4
NSCI 175 Introduction to Neuroscience 3
Foreign language level 3 3
Hours 14
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
BIOL 101
101L
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
4
PSYC 101 General Psychology 3
CHEM 241
241L
Modern Analytical Methods for Separation and Characterization
and Laboratory in Separations and Analytical Characterization of Organic and Biological Compounds H
3
COMP 116 Introduction to Scientific Programming 3
Approaches (e.g., VP) 1 3
Hours 16
Spring Semester
BIOL 202 Molecular Biology and Genetics H 4
CHEM 261 Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H 3
NSCI 222 Learning H 3
Approaches (e.g., SS/HS) 1 3
Elective 2 3
Hours 16
Junior Year
Fall Semester
CHEM 262
262L
Introduction to Organic Chemistry II
and Laboratory in Organic Chemistry H
4
PHYS 114 General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences 4
PSYC 210 Statistical Principles of Psychological Research H 4
Approaches (e.g., PH) 1 3
Hours 15
Spring Semester
CHEM 430 Introduction to Biological Chemistry (Knowledge elective #1) 3, H 3
PHYS 115 General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences 4
PSYC 270 Research Methods in Psychology 3
Approaches (e.g., LA) 1 3
Elective 1
Hours 14
Senior Year
Fall Semester
Knowledge elective #2 3
MMS elective #1 3
NSCI 225 Sensation and Perception H 3
Approaches (e.g., HS) 1 3
Elective 2 3
Hours 15
Spring Semester
MMS elective #2 3
Approaches (e.g., SS) 1 3
Electives 2 9
Hours 15
Total Hours 120
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Sample II (for students with MATH 231 and CHEM 101/L credit)

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
Fall SemesterHours
BIOL 101
101L
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
4
NSCI 175 Introduction to Neuroscience 3
ENGL 105 English Composition and Rhetoric 3
Foreign language level 2 3
Lifetime fitness 1
Hours 14
Spring Semester
CHEM 102
102L
General Descriptive Chemistry II
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II H
4
MATH 232 Calculus of Functions of One Variable II H 4
PSYC 101 General Psychology 3
Foreign language level 3 3
Hours 14
Sophomore Year
Fall Semester
CHEM 241
241L
Modern Analytical Methods for Separation and Characterization
and Laboratory in Separations and Analytical Characterization of Organic and Biological Compounds H
3
PSYC 210 Statistical Principles of Psychological Research H 4
COMP 116 Introduction to Scientific Programming 3
Approaches (e.g., VP) 1 3
Elective 2 3
Hours 16
Spring Semester
CHEM 261 Introduction to Organic Chemistry I H 3
BIOL 202 Molecular Biology and Genetics H 4
PSYC 270 Research Methods in Psychology 3
Approaches (e.g., SS/HS) 1 3
Elective 1
Hours 14
Junior Year
Fall Semester
CHEM 262
262L
Introduction to Organic Chemistry II
and Laboratory in Organic Chemistry H
4
NSCI 222 Learning H 3
PHYS 114 General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences 4
Approaches (e.g., PH) 1 3
Elective 2
Hours 16
Spring Semester
CHEM 430 Introduction to Biological Chemistry (Knowledge elective #1) 3, H 3
NSCI 225 Sensation and Perception H 3
PHYS 115 General Physics II: For Students of the Life Sciences 4
Approaches (e.g., LA) 1 3
Elective 2 3
Hours 16
Senior Year
Fall Semester
Knowledge elective #2 3
MMS elective #1 3
Approaches (e.g., HS) 1 3
Electives 2 6
Hours 15
Spring Semester
MMS elective #2 3
Approaches (e.g., SS) 1 3
Electives 2 9
Hours 15
Total Hours 120
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in Psychology and Neuroscience

Honors in Psychology and Neuroscience

Any major in the program with an overall grade point average of 3.3 or higher and prior research experience in a faculty lab (e.g., PSYC 395 or NSCI 395) is eligible for enrollment in the departmental senior honors program. Each candidate for honors participates in a two-semester course sequence (PSYC 693H and PSYC 694H or NSCI 693H and NSCI 694H) and carries out independent research in an area of the student’s choice under the guidance of a psychology and neuroscience faculty member. Please see the department Web site for the application form and additional information.

Departmental Involvement

Membership in the Psychology Club is open to any interested psychology major. There is no minimum grade point average requirement. The club meets frequently to discuss psychology-related topics and learn about careers in psychology.

The Carolina Neuroscience Club brings together students who have an interest in the brain and nervous system. Club members meet regularly to discuss courses, research articles, and post-college neuroscience opportunities. Membership is open to anyone interested in neuroscience.

Psi Chi is the National Honor Society for psychology. UNC's chapter strives to increase awareness of career options as well as the role of psychology in the community, among exemplary psychology students.

The Undergraduate Research Society raises undergraduate awareness of research on campus.The society works to bridge interactions between undergraduates, graduate students and faculty members as well as provides opportunities for undergraduate researchers to further their research interests.

Helping Give Away Psychological Science is a student-based nonprofit organization to improve information about psychology on Wikipedia, on other online sites, and in the community. 

Experiential Education

Several opportunities for experiential education are available. The Karen M. Gil Internship Program offers both course credit and a monthly stipend to selected psychology and neuroscience majors who are placed in approved internship sites in the community. Interns are selected through a competitive process (minimum grade point average is 3.4). Other experiential education opportunities include PSYC 395; NSCI 395PSYC 294; NSCI 294; NSCI 424; APPLES, performed either through the APPLES program or in conjunction with a specific psychology class; and other classes for which service learning is a central focus. See course listings for details.

Undergraduate Awards

The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience administers several undergraduate awards: the Dashiell-Thurstone Prize; the David Bray Peele Undergraduate Award; the Donald T. Lysle Service Award; the Lindquist Undergraduate Research Award; the J. Steven Reznick Award for Diversity Enhancement in Psychological Research; the J. Steven Reznick Diversity and Psychological Research Grant; and the Susan M. McHale Award for Oustanding Psychological Research by a Student Who Enhances Diversity, as well as several fellowships and grants administered through the UNC Office for Undergraduate Research or the UNC Honors Carolina Office. An additional honor is election to Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology undergraduates. Each year, the Lindquist Undergraduate Research Award is given to several undergraduate students to support their research; the Dashiell-Thurstone Prize is awarded to one student for the best undergraduate research project; the David Bray Peel Undergraduate Award is given for the best honors project; and the Donald T. Lysle Service Award is given to a psychology or neuroscience major who has made exemplary service contributions. The Donald T. Lysle Service Award is presented at the Chancellor's Award Ceremony, the only campus-wide recognition at Carolina. The department also supports awards that support diversity. The J. Steven Reznick Award for Outstanding Research That Enhances Diversity is for a graduating senior who has conducted excellent research that contributes to psychological knowledge about diversity, and the J. Steven Reznick Diversity and Psychological Research Grant as well as the Susan M. McHale Award for Outstanding Research by a Student Who Enhances Diversity are awarded to student researchers who identify as being from an underrepresented population. For each of these awards, diversity is broadly defined, including but not limited to diversity based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status. For additional details on these awards, please visit the Psychology and Neuroscience page on undergraduate awards.

Undergraduate Research

Qualified students interested in doing independent research under the direction of a faculty member may enroll for independent research credit (PSYC 395 or NSCI 395). Students interested in this option should speak directly with psychology faculty members regarding opportunities in their laboratories. Additional information is available on the department's Web site. Many other psychology courses also include heavy research components. See the research methods, research intensive, and research exposure courses at the Office for Undergraduate Research.