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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. It is strongly encouraged that students engage in independent research in a neuroscience laboratory on campus. 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 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 Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science 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 Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a 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 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
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
MATH 211
MATH 217
MATH 221
MATH 275
Statistics (complete one):3
STAT 371
STAT 541
BOTANY 575
(Intro to Modern Statistical Methods for Biologists)
General Chemistry (complete one):5-9
CHEM 103
& CHEM 104

and
CHEM 109
CHEM 115
& CHEM 116

and
Organic Chemistry (complete one):3-6
CHEM 341
CHEM 343
& CHEM 345

and
Physics (complete one)8-10
PHYSICS 103
& PHYSICS 104

and
PHYSICS 201
& PHYSICS 202

and
PHYSICS 207
& PHYSICS 208

and
PHYSICS 247
& PHYSICS 248

and
E M A 201
& E M A 202

and
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
ZOOLOGY 151
ZOOLOGY 152
Biology Core Curriculum16-18
BIOCORE 381
BIOCORE 383
BIOCORE 485
BIOCORE 587
Plus two from:
BIOCORE 382
BIOCORE 384
BIOCORE 486
Animal Biology10
ZOOLOGY 101
ZOOLOGY 102
BOTANY 130

Neurobiology

Required Neurobiology Courses
ZOOLOGY 523 3
PSYCH 454 3
ZOOLOGY 500 1
Distributed Neuroscience Coursework—choose three courses9
ANAT&PHY 335
1
ANAT&PHY 435
1
BIOCHEM 501
1
BIOCHEM 508
1
BIOCHEM 630
1
BIOCHEM 645
1
B M E 520
1
CS&D 210
CS&D 503
ED PSYCH 326
GENETICS 520
KINES 531
NTP 610
NTP 611
NTP/ZOOLOGY 616
NTP 629
NTP 630
NTP 651
NTP 670
NTP 675
(Functional Brain Imaging of Cognitive Disorders)
NTP 675
(Molecular Mechanisms of Brain Damage)
NTP 675
(Neuroendocrinology)
NTP 675
(Reproductive Neuroendocrinology)
NTP 675
(Brain Mapping in Health and Disease: Applications)
NTP 677
PHM SCI 401
PHM SCI 521
NEURODPT 533
PSYCH 406
PSYCH 414
PSYCH 505
(Cognitive Neuroscience: Bridging Mind and Brain)
PSYCH 513
PSYCH 601
(Neural Basis of Cognitive Control)
PSYCH 601
(Neuroeconomics)
PSYCH 603
PSYCH 606
PSYCH 612
ZOOLOGY 470
1
ZOOLOGY 555
ZOOLOGY 603
ZOOLOGY 604
ZOOLOGY 611
ZOOLOGY 619
ZOOLOGY 620
ZOOLOGY 625
ZOOLOGY 655
ZOOLOGY 674

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: 2
BIOCORE 486
ANAT&PHY 435
ZOOLOGY 555
ZOOLOGY 604
ZOOLOGY 612
ZOOLOGY 616
2. Directed Study—3 credits from: 3
ANATOMY 699
ANESTHES 699
BIOCHEM 699
BIOLOGY 699
B M E 399
BMOLCHEM 699
CBE 699
CHEM 699
COMP BIO 699
CRB 699
CS&D 699
ED PSYCH 699
FAM MED 699
GENETICS 699
H ONCOL 699
KINES 699
MED PHYS 699
MEDICINE 699
MED SC-V 669
M M & I 699
MOL BIOL 699
NEURSURG 699
NEUROL 699
NEURODPT 699
NUTR SCI 699
OBS&GYN 699
ONCOLOGY 699
OPHTHALM 699
PATH 699
PATH-BIO 699
PEDIAT 699
PHM SCI 699
PHYSIOL 699
POP HLTH 699
PSYCH 621
PSYCH 699
PSYCHIAT 699
SURGERY 699
SURG SCI 699
ZOOLOGY 699
3. Honors/Senior Thesis (two semesters):
ZOOLOGY 681
& ZOOLOGY 682

and
ZOOLOGY 691
& ZOOLOGY 692

and
B M E 389
& B M E 489

and

Additional Electives (if needed)

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:

ANAT&PHY 337
ANAT&PHY 338
AN SCI 362
AN SCI 434
AN SCI 520
AN SCI 610
ANATOMY 329
BIOCHEM 507
BIOCHEM 510
BIOCHEM 601
BIOCHEM 612
BIOCHEM 620
BIOCHEM 625
BMOLCHEM 314
BMOLCHEM 503
BMOLCHEM 504
F&W ECOL 401
GENETICS 466
GENETICS 545
GENETICS 562
GENETICS 565
GENETICS 620
KINES 314
M M & I 301
M M & I 302
M M & I 341
M M & I 350
M M & I 410
M M & I 575
MICROBIO 303
MICROBIO 304
MICROBIO 330
MICROBIO 450
MICROBIO 470
MICROBIO 523
MICROBIO 526
MICROBIO 527
MICROBIO 551
MICROBIO 607
PATH-BIO 528
PL PATH 640
MICROBIO 668
NTP 611
NTP 660
NUTR SCI 431
NUTR SCI 631
NUTR SCI 672
ONCOLOGY 401
ONCOLOGY 640
PHM SCI 558
PSYCH 449
PSYCH 450
PSYCH 505
(Comparative Psychology: What Animals Think)
PSYCH 550
ZOOLOGY 410
ZOOLOGY 425
ZOOLOGY 430
ZOOLOGY 470
ZOOLOGY 541
ZOOLOGY 542
ZOOLOGY 570

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

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the 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 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 Thesis5, for a total of 6 credits, from:
BIOCHEM 681
& BIOCHEM 682

and
BIOLOGY 681
& BIOLOGY 682

and
B M E 389
& B M E 489

and
CHEM 681
& CHEM 682

and
CS&D 681
& CS&D 682

and
GENETICS 681
& GENETICS 682

and
H ONCOL 681
& H ONCOL 682

and
NUTR SCI 681
& NUTR SCI 682

and
PSYCH 681
& PSYCH 682

and
ZOOLOGY 681
& ZOOLOGY 682

and

Footnotes

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.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

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 CHEM 1094CHEM 1045
 14 16
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY 15115BIOLOGY 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 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. The neurobiology major advisors are also 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
Starfish

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

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

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.

Neurobiology is a major in the Department of Integrative Biology. The faculty in this department are:

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

Associate Professors: Amann and Grinblat

Assistant Professors Dugan, Sharma, and Wang

Neurobiology Major Steering Committee: Michelle Ciucci (chair, Departments of Communication Disorders and Surgery), Stephen Gammie (Department of Integrative Biology), Vaishali Bakshi (Department of Psychiatry), Darcie Moor (Department of Neuroscience), Yuri Saalmann (Department of Psychology).