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|| |
* 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|| |
|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|
|Statistics (complete one):||3|
|(Intro to Modern Statistical Methods for Biologists)|
|General Chemistry (complete one):||5-9|
& CHEM 104
& CHEM 116
|Organic Chemistry (complete one):||3-6|
& CHEM 345
|Physics (complete one)||8-10|
& PHYSICS 104
& PHYSICS 202
& PHYSICS 208
& PHYSICS 248
E M A 201
& E M A 202
30 Credits of Biology and Neurobiology
Will be calculated from General Biology, Neurobiology, Lab/Research Experience and Additional Elective (if required) sections.
|Choose one of these three sequences:|
|Biology Core Curriculum||16-18|
Plus two from:
|Required Neurobiology Courses|
|Distributed Neuroscience Coursework—choose three courses||9|
B M E 520
ED PSYCH 326
|(Functional Brain Imaging of Cognitive Disorders)|
|(Molecular Mechanisms of Brain Damage)|
|(Brain Mapping in Health and Disease: Applications)|
PHM SCI 401
PHM SCI 521
|(Cognitive Neuroscience: Bridging Mind and Brain)|
|(Neural Basis of Cognitive Control)|
Choose one option from the 3 listed: Neuroscience Laboratory Course OR Directed Study OR Honors/Senior Thesis.
|1. Neuroscience Laboratory Course—one course: 2|
|2. Directed Study—3 credits from: 3|
B M E 399
COMP BIO 699
ED PSYCH 699
FAM MED 699
H ONCOL 699
MED PHYS 699
MED SC-V 669
M M & I 699
MOL BIOL 699
NUTR SCI 699
PHM SCI 699
POP HLTH 699
SURG SCI 699
|3. Honors/Senior Thesis (two semesters):|
& ZOOLOGY 682
& ZOOLOGY 692
B M E 389
& B M E 489
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:
AN SCI 362
AN SCI 434
AN SCI 520
AN SCI 610
F&W ECOL 401
M M & I 301
M M & I 302
M M & I 341
M M & I 350
M M & I 410
M M & I 575
PL PATH 640
NUTR SCI 431
NUTR SCI 631
NUTR SCI 672
PHM SCI 558
|(Comparative Psychology: What Animals Think)|
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 682
& BIOLOGY 682
B M E 389
& B M E 489
& CHEM 682
& CS&D 682
& GENETICS 682
H ONCOL 681
& H ONCOL 682
NUTR SCI 681
& NUTR SCI 682
& PSYCH 682
& ZOOLOGY 682
Students may apply only one DNS course toward the elective requirement
Lab courses may also count in the Distributed Neuroscience Coursework above.
Only Directed Study courses taken after—and not concurrent with—the completion of an Introductory Biology sequence are accepted in the major.
Major courses numbered 300–699 are considered upper-level.
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.|
- Demonstrate understanding of basic concepts in biology, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, and physics.
- Demonstrate understanding of the ionic basis for the neuronal membrane potential and action potential, and as well as the factors that determine neuronal excitability.
- 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.
- Differentiate between examples of neuroplasticity at cellular, systems, and organismal levels.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
|Communication A||3||Ethnic Studies||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning A||3||MATH 221||5|
|Foreign Language (if required)||4||L&S Breadth||3|
|CHEM 103 or CHEM 109||4||CHEM 104||5|
|BIOLOGY 1511||5||BIOLOGY 152||5|
|CHEM 343||3||CHEM 345||3|
|INTER-LS 210 (optional)||1||Social Science Breadth||3|
|Social Science Breadth||3||PHYSICS 2072||5|
|Declare the Major3||PSYCH 454||3-4|
|ZOOLOGY 523||3||Distributed Neuroscience Course||2-4|
|STAT 371||3||L&S Breadth||3|
|PHYSICS 208||5||Lab Research||3|
|Distributed Neuroscience Course||3-4||ZOOLOGY 500||1|
|Social Science Breadth||3||Distributed Neuroscience Course||3|
|Lab Research||3||Social Science Breadth||3|
|Total Credits 120|
There are several options for fulfilling the introductory biology requirement. See listed Requirements.
There are several options for fulfilling the Physics requirement. See listed Requirements.
Students must declare a major by the time they reach 86 credits.
It is recommended that students in the Neurobiology major participate in multiple semesters of research.
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.
Birge Hall, Room B156
430 Lincoln Drive
Birge Hall, Room 244
430 Lincoln Drive
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.
- Set up a career advising appointment
- INTER-LS 210 L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative (1 credit, targeted to first- and second-year students)—for more information, see Inter-LS 210: Career Development, Taking Initiative
- INTER-LS 215 Communicating About Careers (3 credits, fulfills Com B General Education Requirement)
- Learn how we’re transforming career preparation: L&S Career Initiative
Neurobiology is a major in the Department of Integrative Biology. The faculty in this department are:
Professors: Hardin (chair, email@example.com), 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).