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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.

The advisors for the Neurobiology Major are committed to providing students with first-rate guidance through the major to graduation and beyond. Most students are ready to declare a major by the end of the 3rd or 4th semester. If you are interested in declaring the Neurobiology Major, you must first make an appointment to meet with an advisor.

See our website to 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 86th 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.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

Math, Statistics, Chemistry & Physics

Mathematics (complete one):5
Calculus
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Topics in Calculus I
Statistics (complete one):3
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Introduction to Biostatistics
Special Topics (Intro to Modern Statistical Methods for Biologists)
General Chemistry (complete one):5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Organic Chemistry (complete one):3-6
Elementary Organic Chemistry
Introductory Organic Chemistry
and Intermediate Organic Chemistry
Physics: 18-10
Physics I
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
A Modern Introduction to Physics
Physics II
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
A Modern Introduction to Physics
Total Credits24-33

30 Credits of Biology and Neurobiology

Will be calculated from General Biology, Neurobiology, Lab/Research Experience and Additional Elective (if required) sections. 

General Biology

Choose one of these three sequences:
Introductory Biology10
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Biology Core Curriculum16-18
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Cellular Biology
Principles of Physiology
Biological Interactions
Plus two from:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Principles of Physiology Laboratory
Animal Biology10
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
General Botany

Neurobiology

Required Neurobiology Courses
ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523 Neurobiology3
PSYCH 454 Behavioral Neuroscience3
ZOOLOGY 500 Undergraduate Neurobiology Seminar1
Distributed Neuroscience Coursework—choose three courses9
Physiology 1
Fundamentals of Human Physiology 1
Introduction to Biochemistry 1
General Biochemistry II 1
Cellular Signal Transduction Mechanisms 1
Molecular Control of Metabolism and Metabolic Disease 1
Stem Cell Bioengineering 1
Neural Basis of Communication
Neural Mechanisms of Speech, Hearing and Language
Mind, Brain and Education
Neurogenetics
Neural Control of Movement
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Systems Neuroscience
Lab Course in Neurobiology and Behavior
Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Memory
Neuronal Mechanisms for Sensation and Memory in Cerebral Cortex
Methods for Neuroimaging Research
Stem Cells and the Central Nervous System
Special Topics (Functional Brain Imaging of Cognitive Disorders)
Special Topics (Molecular Mechanisms of Brain Damage)
Special Topics (Neuroendocrinology)
Special Topics (Reproductive Neuroendocrinology)
Special Topics (Brain Mapping in Health and Disease: Applications)
Basic Sleep Mechanisms and Sleep Disorders: from Neurobiology to Sleep Medicine
Survey of Pharmacology
Pharmacology I
Molecular Physiology
Psychology of Perception
Cognitive Psychology
Depth Topic in Biological Science (Cognitive Neuroscience: Bridging Mind and Brain)
Hormones, Brain, and Behavior
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)
Hormones and Behavior
Introduction to Animal Development 1
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
Modeling Neurodevelopmental Disease
Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Seminar

Lab/Research Experience  

Choose one option from the 3 listed: Neuroscience Laboratory Course OR Directed Study OR Honors/Senior Thesis.

1. Neuroscience Laboratory Course—one course: 1
Principles of Physiology Laboratory
Fundamentals of Human Physiology
Laboratory in Developmental Biology
Computer-based Gene and Disease/Disorder Research Lab
Comparative Physiology Laboratory
Lab Course in Neurobiology and Behavior
2. Directed Study—3 credits from: 2
Independent Study
Independent Study
Special Problems
Directed Studies
Independent Study
Special Research Problems
Advanced Independent Studies
Directed Study
Directed Study
Independent Study
Directed Study
Independent Reading Undergrad
Directed Study
Special Problems
Independent Study in Human Cancer Biology
Independent Study
Independent Reading or Research
Independent Study
Small Animal Cardiology Rotation
Directed Study
Directed Studies in Molecular Biology
Neurosurgery: Directed in Study in Research
Neurology: Directed Study in Neuroscience Research
Independent Work
Special Problems
Directed Study
Special Research Problems
Directed Study
Independent Study
Directed Study
Independent Study
Advanced Independent Study
Independent Work
Independent Reading
Mentored Research and Seminar
Directed Study
Independent Study
Independent Study
Directed Study
Directed Studies in Zoology
3. Honors/Senior Thesis (two semesters):
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
and Senior Thesis
Honors in Research
and Honors in Research

Additional Electives (if required)

Students may take additional credits from the list of Distributed Neuroscience Coursework, Independent/Directed study, or the following list, to attain 30 credits in the major:

Human Anatomy
Human Anatomy Laboratory
Veterinary Genetics
Reproductive Physiology
Ornithology
Quantitative Genetics
Human Anatomy-Kinesiology
General Biochemistry I
Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism
Protein and Enzyme Structure and Function
Prokaryotic Molecular Biology
Eukaryotic Molecular Biology
Mechanisms of Action of Vitamins and Minerals
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 Microorganisms
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
Systems Neuroscience
Neuroscience & Public Policy Seminar
Nutrition in the Life Span
Clinical Nutrition I
Herbals, Homeopathy, and Dietary Supplements
Introduction to Experimental Oncology
General Virology-Multiplication of Viruses
Laboratory Techniques in Pharmacology and Toxicology
Animal Behavior
Primates and Us: Insights into Human Biology and Behavior
Depth Topic in Biological Science (Comparative Psychology: What Animals Think)
Animal Communication and the Origins of Language
Evolutionary Biology
Behavioral Ecology
Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates
Introduction to Animal Development
Paleobiology
Invertebrate Paleontology
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 1
  • 15 credits in in the major, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the Neurobiology Major Requirements

To earn 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 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, ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  523, and ZOOLOGY 500
    • One course from the Required Neuroscience or Distributed Neuroscience course lists (above), taken for honors credit
    • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits, from: 
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Honors in Research
and Honors in Research
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis in Human Oncology 1
and Senior Honors Thesis in Human Oncology 2
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
and Senior Honors Thesis

​The Senior Honors Thesis project must be approved by the Neurobiology Major Program Committee at least one month before beginning the first course (681). The project must focus on its relevance to a neuroscience-related topic. Please see the Neurobiology major website for more information.

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.

The grid below is a suggested plan for finishing your Neurobiology major in 4 years. Please see an advisor for more information, as you may have completed some of the requirements listed. 

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Communication A3Ethnic Studies3
Quantitative Reasoning A3MATH 2215
Foreign Language (if required)4L&S Breadth3
CHEM 103 or 1094CHEM 1045
 14 16
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  15115BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  1525
CHEM 3433CHEM 3453
INTER-LS 210 (optional)1Social Science Breadth3
Social Science Breadth3PHYSICS 20725
 12 16
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Declare the Major3PSYCH 4543-4
ZOOLOGY/​PSYCH  5233Distributed Neuroscience Course2-4
STAT 3713L&S Breadth3
L&S Breadth3Elective 3
PHYSICS 2085Lab Research3
Lab Research43 
 17 16
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Distributed Neuroscience Course3-4ZOOLOGY 5001
Social Science Breadth3Distributed Neuroscience Course3
Electives6L&S Breadth3
Lab Research3Social Science Breadth3
 Lab Research3
 16 13
Total Credits 120

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
India Viola
Birge Hall, Room 244
430 Lincoln Drive
irviola@wisc.edu
Scheduling Assistant
 

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.

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

Associate Professors Amann, Damschen, Grinblat, and Orrock

Assistant Professors Dugan, Sharma and Wolman

Adjunct Professor Peckarsky

Neurobiology Major Programming Committee: Professors Gammie (Integrative Biology, Chair), Bakshi (Psychiatry), Dent (Neuroscience), Postle (Psychology).