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Neuroscience Curriculum


BIOL 132, and one of the following: BIOL 313, 327, 330, 333, 334
CHEM 131, 132 (OR CHEM 141)
PHYS 141 and 142, if completing the pre-health curriculum (OR PHYS 131 and 132, if not completing the pre-health curriculum; NOTE: MATH 151 or 170 is the prerequisite/co-requisite for PHYS 131-132)

NRSC 200
PSYC 125, one of the following 300-level courses: PSYC 310, PSYC 315, PSYC 325, PSYC 330, PSYC 380 (neuroscience-related research methods course) and one of the following 400-level courses: NRSC 400, PSYC 425, PSYC 430, PSYC 480 (neuroscience-related topics course), BIOL 401(neuroscience-related topics course), or BIOL 412 (neuroscience-related seminar course).

One elective may be chosen from courses listed above that the student has not already taken or another upper-level science course related to neuroscience (200-level or above): BIOL 216, 314, 318, 326, 327, 334, 335, 342 or 417; CHEM 490; PSYC 355, 380 or 455.

The other elective must be outside of DIV III (200-level or above), and must be a course that examines science in a philosophical, environmental, or socio-cultural context. The following are current courses which will satisfy this second elective:

AMST 200: Health, Illness and Culture
AMST 301: Race, Gender and Body
ANTH 216:  Medical Anthropology
ANTH 225: Human Osteology
ANTH 229: Principles of Human Variation and Adaptation
ANTH 245: Medicine, Science & Society
ANTH 256: Health & Healing in Africa
ANTH 310: Nutritional Anthropology
ANTH 331: Principles of Human Evolution
ARTH 375/PHIL 275: Beauty
HIST 350: American Science, Technology & Medicine
JDST 216: Jewish Medical Ethics
LAWP 400: Biomed Tech, Policy & Law
PHIL 220: Biomedical Ethics
PHIL 254: Philosophy of Science
PHIL 256: Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 391: Morality and Mind
PHIL 391: Free Will and Science
SOCI 228: Sociology of Sexuality
SOCI 230: when the topic is: Medical Sociology
SOCI 333: Sociology of Health and Illness
SPAN 239: Spanish for Health Profession

Other courses, not included on this list, may satisfy the elective as determined by the Neuroscience program coordinator.  The elective courses must be approved in advance in consultation with the student's advisor and the neuroscience faculty. The student must be able to show how the electives fit into his/her neuroscience major.

All neuroscience majors are required to include an “Experience in Neuroscience” as part of their undergraduate program. This requirement may be satisfied by the successful completion of one of the following:

  1. A Neuroscience-related independent study (i.e., NRSC 500)
  2. An independent research project (NRSC 550) OR student/faculty collaborative research project (NRSC 560)
  3. A summer research project or internship with a faculty member
  4. An off-campus research experience or internship
  5. A research experience or internship not covered by the above but deemed equivalent by the contributing faculty

Suggested curricular flow through the major

A student who starts the major in the first year will have more options for advanced study during the senior year. As can be seen below, it is possible for a student, starting in the sciences, to take the majority of neuroscience courses during the sophomore and junior year (see Option A). It is also possible for a student to start the major in the sophomore year and still complete the major (see Option B).

First-Year students who plan to major in Neuroscience are strongly encouraged to concurrently take PSYC 125 and CHEM 131 the fall semester and BIOL 132 and CHEM 132 the spring semester. (Please note: CHEM 141 can substitute for the CHEM 131-132 sequence.) Alternatively, a student could take PHYS 131 (or 141) in the fall semester and PHYS 132 (or 142) in the spring semester of their first year in lieu of the chemistry sequence and complete the chemistry sequence after the first year. Also, students not completing the Pre-Health curriculum are encouraged to complete the PHYS 131-132 sequence, especially students interested in pursuing graduate school in Neuroscience. Please note: MATH 151 or 170 is a prerequisite/co-requisite for PHYS 131. Students completing the Pre-Health curriculum should complete the PHYS 141-142 sequence. Once a student successfully has completed either BIOL 132 or PSYC 125, the student can declare the Neuroscience major and be eligible to take NRSC 200. NRSC 200 is intended to be completed during a student’s sophomore or junior year. Moreover, once a student has successfully completed BIOL 132, PSYC 125 AND NRSC 200, then the student is eligible for neuroscience-related upper-level Biology (BIOL 313, 327, 330 and 333) and Psychology (PSYC 310, 315, 325 and 330) courses that contribute to the major as elective courses. Non-neuroscience related upper-level science courses (e.g., BIOL 314) that satisfy the Science Elective require only BIOL 132 AND PSYC 125. Thus, students may complete the Science Elective as early as their sophomore year. A student is strongly encouraged to complete the introductory PSYC 125/BIOL 132 sequence as early as possible. Twelve courses are required to complete the major. Below is an example of when various courses can be taken to complete the major.

Option A
For Incoming Students Planning to Pursue Neuroscience as a Major

Year Fall Spring
First Year PSYC 125
CHEM 131 (or 141)
MATH 151 or 170

BIOL 132
CHEM 132

(or BIOL 132)

Sophomore NRSC 200
PHYS 131 (or 141)
Science Elective
PHYS 132 (or 142)
Junior 300-Level PSYC Elective 300-Level BIOL Elective
Non-Science Elective
Senior Experience in Neuroscience 400-Level Seminar

A student may begin the Neuroscience major their sophomore year even if no neuroscience-related courses were taken their first year. For students beginning the Neuroscience major their sophomore year, they will need to concurrently take PSYC 125 and CHEM 131 (CHEM 141 is not an option for sophomores) in the fall semester and BIOL 132 and CHEM 132 in the spring semester. PHYS 131 (or 141) and 132 (or 142) can be taken in lieu of the chemistry sequence in the sophomore year and the chemistry sequence completed during either the junior or senior year. Also, students not completing the Pre-Health curriculum are encouraged to complete the PHYS 131-132 sequence, especially students interested in pursuing graduate school in Neuroscience. Please note: MATH 151 or 170 is a prerequisite/co-requisite for PHYS 131. Students completing the Pre-Health curriculum should complete the PHYS 141-142 sequence. Completion of either BIOL 132 OR PSYC 125 will permit students to declare the major by the end of their sophomore year and be eligible to take NRSC 200 the first semester of their junior year. Moreover, a student beginning the major their sophomore year could complete the non-neuroscience related science elective and the neuroscience-related upper-level biology and psychology courses their junior and senior years, respectively, in addition to completing the other requirements of the major. Importantly, students planning to begin the Neuroscience major their sophomore year should consult the Program Director about navigating the major. Below is an example of when various courses can be taken to complete the major.

Option B
For Students Beginning the Neuroscience Major their Sophomore Year

Year Fall Spring
First Year --------------------------- ---------------------------
Sophomore PSYC 125 
CHEM 131
MATH 151 or 170
BIOL 132
CHEM 132
Junior NRSC 200
PHYS 131 (or 141)
Science Elective
PHYS 132 (or 142)
Non-Science Elective
Senior 300-Level PSYC Elective
Experience in Neuroscience
300-Level BIOL Elective
400-Level Seminar



The Neuroscience Program will award Honors to a Neuroscience major based on the candidate’s entire undergraduate Neuroscience program.  This is to include all Neuroscience-related courses with their grades, the nature of the curriculum selected, and the successful completion of an Honors research project.  This project may be performed in two semesters of Independent Research (NRSC 550 or 560) on campus, or in a summer plus one semester of Independent Research, under the supervision of a Neuroscience program member.  Research projects of comparable scope performed off-campus under the supervision of a mentor who is not a Neuroscience program member may also be proposed for program Honors, subject to the procedures described below. For all Honors candidates a minimum grade point average of 3.0 is required in those courses that count toward the Neuroscience major, including Chemistry 131, 132, 141, or the equivalent thereof, Physics 131, 132 (or Physics 141 and 142) and transfer courses that receive Neuroscience credit.  The Honors research project should be distinguished by the originality and definition of the research problem, the sophistication of the experimental design and its execution, and the analysis, and presentation of the results.  Generally, Honors reports should be of publishable or near publishable quality.  The Honors Committee will consider all these factors in its recommendation to the faculty, and the faculty should be cognizant of all these factors when voting Honors. For the specific guidelines and procedures see the Neuroscience Program web site.

Opportunities for off-campus study

Students who study abroad at the Dickinson Science Program in Australia, the Dickinson Science Program at the University of East Anglia (Norwich) or the Dickinson Program at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (Copenhagen, Denmark) will find many course equivalents to required courses in the neuroscience major. For more information, see your advisor, or contact a member of the Neuroscience faculty.

Co-curricular activities/programs

Neuroscience Club:  Students are encouraged to join the Neuroscience Club.  The mission of the Neuroscience Club at Dickinson College is to spread awareness of brain-related issues on campus, while providing a science community for Neuroscience, Psychology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Biology and Physics majors.


200 Perspectives in Neuroscience
This 6-hour integrated lecture/laboratory course will focus on different levels of analysis within the field of neuroscience by dividing the course into 3 separate, 4-week teaching modules: 1) cellular/molecular, 2) systems and 3) behavioral neuroscience. These laboratory-based teaching modules will expose students to fundamental concepts of neuroscience at different levels of organization and help students develop proficiency with some basic neuroscientic techniques. Students also will be taught about writing and data analysis (e.g., statistics) appropriate to the field of neuroscience.
Prerequisites: Psychology 125. Offered every fall.
Attributes: Writing in the Discipline

400 Neuroscience Seminar
Advanced seminar in which students will read and review primary literature related to selected topics in the field of neuroscience. Examples of selected topics may include neuroendocrinology, neurobiology of drug addiction, neurobiology of learning and memory or clinical neuroscience. A discussion-style approach will be adopted.
Prerequisites: BIOL 132, NRSC 200 and PSYC 125.
Attributes: Health Studies Elective