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Neuroscience is the scientific study of the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (nerves in body) nervous system. The neurobiology major at UW–Madison will provide a rigorous education in neuroscience principles that will prepare students for health-related careers (physician, physician assistant, veterinarian, dentist, neuroimaging technician, speech-language pathologist, neuropsychologist, drug rehabilitation counselor, physical therapists), academic careers (college and university faculty, research scientists, lab technician, K-12 teachers), and careers in pharmaceutical and biotech industries, venture capital and scientific consulting firms, medical and scientific journals, intellectual property law, neuroscience-related nonprofit organizations and foundations, and government agencies. UW–Madison is one of the leading universities in the world with more than 90 faculty engaged in neuroscience research and undergraduates will have access to this research faculty in formal classroom environments and through undergraduate research opportunities. Please see the Neurobiology Major website for more information.


About the Curriculum

The curriculum is designed to give students a solid foundation in basic biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics before going on to study neuroscience at the molecular, cellular, systems, and cognitive levels. Students with interests in non-neuroscience majors are welcome and encouraged to enroll in neuroscience courses. For example, students may be attracted to the diversity and flexibility of courses offered within the biology major in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and still take several neuroscience courses that satisfy requirements in the biology major. Students can also perform independent research in neuroscience laboratories on campus. Students in other majors, such as biochemistry, psychology, genetics, animal sciences, communication sciences and disorders, engineering, and computer science, can enroll in neuroscience courses that uniquely complement courses within their major. The Neurobiology Major Program Committee is committed to increasing opportunities for all students with interests in neuroscience and helping students accomplish their academic goals at UW–Madison. This new major is tailored to attract students from a diverse array of backgrounds. Please see the Neurobiology Major website for more information.

Undergraduate advising in the major: The student services coordinators Catherine Auger and Virginia Jackson, located in Birge Hall, are the primary advisors for the neurobiology major. Students should declare the major no later than the beginning of the junior year. Students can make appointments for general advising and major declarations through the student services coordinators:

Catherine Auger, Schedule an Appointment
Virginia Jackson, Schedule an Appointment

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

Math, Statistics, Chemistry & Physics

Mathematics—one course:5
Calculus
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Statistics—one course:3
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Introduction to Biostatistics
Special Topics
General Chemistry—one course:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Organic Chemistry—one course:3
Elementary Organic Chemistry
Introductory Organic Chemistry
and Intermediate Organic Chemistry
General Physics 1—one course:4
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
A Modern Introduction to Physics
Statics
and Dynamics
General Physics 24
Select one of the following:
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
A Modern Introduction to Physics
Dynamics
Total Credits24-28

30 CREDITS OF BIOLOGY AND nEUROBIOLOGY

Credits will be applied from General Biology, Neurobiology, Lab, and Electives. Courses apply only once.

General Biology

Complete one General Biology sequence:

Introductory Biology10-16
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
BIOCORE 3
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Cellular Biology
Organismal Biology
Biological Interactions
Plus two from:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Organismal Biology Laboratory
Animal Biology
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
General Botany

Neurobiology

Neurobiology:
ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523 Neurobiology3
Behavioral Neuroscience:
PSYCH 454 Behavioral Neuroscience3
or ZOOLOGY/​NTP/​PHYSIOL/​PSYCH  524 Neurobiology II: An Introduction to the Brain and Behavior
Neuroscience Seminar:
ZOOLOGY 500 Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar1
Distributed Neuroscience—three courses from:3
Introduction to Biochemistry 1
General Biochemistry II 1
Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms 1
Neural Basis of Communication
Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language
Mind, Brain and Education
Neural Control of Movement
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Lab Course in Neurobiology and Behavior
Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Memory
Neuronal Mechanisms for Sensation and Memory in Cerebral Cortex
Stem Cells and the Central Nervous System
Neurobiology of Disease
Special Topics (Basic Sleep Mechanisms & Sleep Disorders)
Special Topics (Behavioral Neuroendocrinology)
Special Topics (Functional Brain Imaging of Cognitive Disorders)
Special Topics (Molecular Mechanisms of Brain Damage)
Special Topics (Methods for Neuroimaging Research)
Special Topics (Neuroendocrinology)
Special Topics (Reproductive Neuroendocrinology)
Special Topics (Brain Mapping in Health and Disease: Applications)
Physiology 1
Fundamentals of Human Physiology 1
Psychology of Perception
Current Topics in Psychology (Epigenetics and the Brain)
Current Topics in Psychology (Neuropharmacology)
Current Topics in Psychology (Neural Basis of Cognitive Control)
Current Topics in Psychology (Neuroeconomics)
Cognitive Psychology
Depth Topic in Social Science (Hormones, Brain, and Behavior)
Hormones and Behavior
Systems Neuroscience
Laboratory in Developmental Biology
Endocrinology
Computer-based Gene and Disease/Disorder Research Lab
Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology
Biology of Mind
Neuroethology Seminar
Development of the Nervous System
Total Credits10
1

Students may apply only one of the following courses toward the major:  BIOCHEM 501, BIOCHEM 508PHYSIOL 335, PHYSIOL 435.

Lab/Research Experience  2

Choose one option from:

Neuroscience Lab—one course:
Organismal Biology Laboratory
Lab Course in Neurobiology and Behavior
Fundamentals of Human Physiology
Brain Cell Cultures and Imaging: A Lab Course
Capstone Mentored Research and Seminar
Laboratory in Developmental Biology
Computer-based Gene and Disease/Disorder Research Lab
Comparative Physiology Laboratory
Directed Study—3 credits from: 3
Independent Study
Independent Study
Directed Studies
Special Research Problems
Directed Study
Directed Study
Directed Study
Special Problems
Independent Study
Independent Reading or Research
Independent Study
Directed Study
Directed Studies in Molecular Biology
Neurosurgery: Directed in Study in Research
Neurology: Directed Study in Neuroscience Research
Directed Study in Research
Independent Work
Special Problems
Directed Study
Special Research Problems
Directed Study
Independent Study
Independent Study
Advanced Independent Study
Independent Work
Independent Reading
Directed Study
Independent Study
Directed Study
Independent Study
Directed Studies in Zoology
Thesis—two semesters:
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
2

 Note that Lab courses may also be those that apply in the Neurobiology category above.

3

Only Directed Study courses taken after — and not concurrent with or prior to — the completion of an Introductory Biology sequence are accepted in the major.

Electives

Additional credits from the Neurobiology, Lab, or the following list, to attain 30 credits in the major:

Veterinary Genetics
Reproductive Physiology
Ornithology
Quantitative Genetics
Human Anatomy-Kinesiology
Neuronal Mechanisms for Sensation and Memory in Cerebral Cortex
General Biochemistry I
General Biochemistry II
Biochemical Principles of Human and Animal Nutrition
Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function
Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
Mechanisms of Action of Vitamins and Minerals
Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms
Introduction to Human Biochemistry
Human Biochemistry
Human Biochemistry Laboratory
Physiological Animal Ecology
Principles of Genetics
Genetics Laboratory
Human Cytogenetics
Human Genetics
Advanced Microbial Genetics
Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
Physiology of Exercise
Pathogenic Bacteriology
Medical Microbiology Laboratory
Immunology
Parasitology
Parasitology Laboratory
Medical Mycology
Medical Mycology Laboratory
Immunology Laboratory
Biology of Viruses
Biology of Microorganisms
Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Host-Parasite Interactions
Diversity, Ecology and Evolution of Microrrganisms
Microbial Genetics & Molecular Machines
Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry
Physiology of Microorganisms
Advanced Laboratory Techniques in Microbiology
Immunology
Capstone Research Project in Microbiology
General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses
Microbiology at Atomic Resolution
Nutrition in the Life Span
Clinical Nutrition
Herbals, Homeopathy, and Dietary Supplements
Introduction to Experimental Oncology
General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses
Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology and Toxicology
Molecular Physiology
Animal Behavior
Primates and Us: Insights into Human Biology and Behavior
Animal Communication and the Origins of Language
Evolutionary Biology
Behavioral Ecology
Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
Introduction to Animal Development
Paleobiology
Invertebrate Paleontology
Laboratory in Developmental Biology
Cell Biology

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all major courses

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 4

15 credits in in the major, taken on the UW–Madison campus

4

Major courses numbered 300–699 are considered upper level.

Honors in the Major

Approved for declaration fall 2017 or later.

Students may declare Honors in the Neurobiology Major in consultation with the Neurobiology undergraduate advisor(s).

Honors in the Neurobiology Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Neurobiology students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 GPA for all major courses
  • Complete 14 credits, taken for Honors, with individual grades of B or better, while in residence, to include:
    • Two courses from PSYCH 454 Behavioral Neuroscience, ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523 Neurobiology and ZOOLOGY 500 Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar
    • One course from the Required Neuroscience or Distributed Neuroscience course lists (above), taken for honors credit
    • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis, typically 681 and 682, for a total of 6 credits.1

​The Senior Honors Thesis project must be approved by the Neurobiology Major Program Committee at least one month before beginning 681. The project must focus on a neuroscience-related topic.

1

 The thesis can be taken in the following departments: ANATOMY, ANESTHES, BIOLOGY, BMOLCHEM, CHEM, COMP BIO, CRB, CS&D, ED PSYCH, FAM MED, GENETICS, KINES, MEDICINE, MED PHYS, MED CS-V, M M & I, MOL BIOL, NEURODPT, NEUROL, NEURSURG, NTP, NUTR SCI, OBS&GYN, ONCOLOGY, OPHTHALM, PATH, PATH-BIO, PEDIAT, PHM SCI, PHYSIOL, POP HLTH, PSYCH, PSYCHIAT, RADIOL, SURGERY, ZOOLOGY. Other departments will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Neurobiology Major Program Committee.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts in biology, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, and physics.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the ionic basis for the neuronal membrane potential and action potential, and as well as the factors that determine neuronal excitability.
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the basic mechanisms for synaptic transmission, neurotransmitter release, postsynaptic effects, and modulation of pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. Predict how specific physiological and pathological conditions alter neuronal function at the cellular and synaptic levels.
  4. Differentiate between examples of neuroplasticity at cellular, systems, and organismal levels.
  5. Demonstrate understanding of central and peripheral neuroanatomy, basic functions of brain regions, and well-known neural pathways. Predict how localized disruptions of neuronal function alter behavior, motor function, or perception.
  6. Demonstrate understanding of basic principles underlying motor function, sensory function (auditory, visual, touch, taste), emotion, autonomic regulation, and higher order cognitive functions (language, memory, attention, decision-making).
  7. Demonstrate how experimental tools in neuroscience are used to address experimental questions, such as intra/extracellular recording, molecular biology techniques, immunohistochemical staining, fluorescent and electron microscopy, genetic manipulation, brain imaging, behavioral testing.

Neurobiology Major Advising

The advisors for the neurobiology major are committed to providing students with first-rate guidance through the major and to graduation. Also the neurobiology major advisors are dedicated to helping a student focus their future plans after undergraduate study. If you are interested in declaring the neurobiology major, make an appointment to discuss this.

Contact Information

Catherine Auger
Birge Hall, Room B156
430 Lincoln Drive
cauger@wisc.edu
Scheduling Assistant

Virginia Jackson
Birge Hall, Room 141
430 Lincoln Drive
vjackson4@wisc.edu
Scheduling Assistant
 

Professors Hardin (chair, jdhardin@wisc.edu), Bement, Blair, Carpenter, Gammie, Halloran, Ives, Lee, Newmark, Porter, Riters, Stanley, Stretton, Turner and Vander Zanden

Associate Professors Amann, Damschen, Grinblat, McIntyre and Orrock

Assistant Professors Sharma and Wolman

Adjunct Professor Peckarsky

Neurobiology Major Programming Committee: Professors Ciucci (Communication Sciences and Disorders; Surgery), Gammie (Integrative Biology), Johnson (Comparative Biosciences, chair of major), Lipton (Neuroscience), Postle (Psychology), Turkstra (Communication Sciences and Disorders)