Neuroscience B.S.

The Neuroscience B.S. degree provides interdisciplinary training in basic scientific principles in the life and physical sciences. This is needed for an understanding of how the nervous system functions, as well as for training in the fundamental principles of neuroscience and for advanced training in specific aspects of the field.

Student pursuing this degree will gain a depth of understanding of neural function, one that spans cellular and molecular bases, systems-level connectivity, brain-behavior relations, and development in humans and in animal models.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is an integral part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Our faculty, comprised of basic and applied scientists, represents a variety of disciplines and conducts research over a broad range of areas. Coursework includes:

  • Introductory neuroscience, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, and math courses
  • Basic non-neuroscience courses such as organic chemistry and cell biology
  • Laboratory courses that provide hands-on training in neuroscience bench techniques and analysis methods
  • Advanced neuroscience courses that provide more in-depth understanding of the nervous system

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers three degrees: the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Neuroscience, the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology, and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology.

Many students interested in Neuroscience choose to pursue the Neuroscience B.S. and the Psychology B.S. as dual degrees. The Department also offers a minor in Psychology, a Certificate in Neuroscience, a Certificate in Clinical Psychological Science, and a Certificate in the Psychology of Business.

Coursework

Getting started

To begin the Neuroscience major you will take an introductory Psychology course followed by PSY-P 346 Neuroscience. You should also get started on introductory Chemistry and Biology coursework during your first year.

Tracks and concentrations

A goal of the Neuroscience major is to help you develop a broad and fundamental understanding of nervous system function. Therefore, the major does not have formal tracks or concentrations.

The Neuroscience major offers flexibility in choosing courses, allowing you to personalize the curriculum. For instance, a student who is interested in the cellular and molecular processes that govern addictive behavior may choose Organic Chemistry II, Cell Biology, and Molecular Biology to fulfill the Basic Non-Neuroscience course requirement, and include Drugs and the Nervous System and Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology in their Advanced Neuroscience course requirement.

A student who is interested in a systems approach to human addiction may instead choose Calculus II and Linear Algebra, along with Clinical Neuroscience, Human Neuropsychology, and Drugs and the Nervous System.

Upper level coursework

The major allows you to choose from a variety of Advanced Neuroscience courses. Examples of popular course topics include: Cognitive Neuroscience, Clinical Neuroscience, Reproductive Neuroscience, and Stress Effects on Brain and Behavior.

You will also gain hands-on experience through a laboratory class or through working as a research assistant in a faculty research lab.

An academic advisor will help you select courses and lab experiences that best suit your interests.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

You might wish to complement your Neuroscience coursework with a second degree or minor in a complementary subject area. Talk with an academic advisor to consider your options.

Some students pursue second degrees in Biology or Psychology.

Commonly pursued minors include: Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Spanish, and Music.

The most common certificate is the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP).

Many students also complete pre-medical or other pre-health professions requirements.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing the Neuroscience degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Many Neuroscience undergraduates have the opportunity to assist in faculty research labs. You'll benefit from a personal mentoring relationship with a faculty member and interaction with other highly motivated psychology and neuroscience majors and graduate students.

The Undergraduate Teaching Internship allows high achieving students to assist in teaching undergraduate psychology and neuroscience courses. In addition to teaching assistant duties, teaching interns attend a weekly discussion of good teaching practices and complete a project related to the aims of the course in which they are assisting.

As your interests develop, you might want to take an independent readings course under the guidance of faculty.

Talk with an academic advisor or your instructors about teaching, independent study, and research opportunities.

Honors

Outstanding students may apply to the departmental honors program during their sophomore or junior year. Once accepted, students complete an honors project involving twelve to eighteen months of laboratory research, sponsored by a faculty member.

Honors students write up research projects in a format similar to a Master's thesis, give a poster presentation about their work, and successfully defend the thesis before a committee of three faculty members.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for scholarships and awards include:

Internships

Employers and graduate schools prefer applicants who have career-relevant experience over those who do not. Over 80% of college students will complete at least one internship experience and many will complete two before they graduate. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Previous Neuroscience students have found internship and research opportunities with organizations such as:

Learn more about internships and the possibility of earning credit through the Walter Center for Career Achievement. You have access to many resources there for finding both domestic and international internships.

Another resource you can use is the Psychology/Neuroscience Blog, where academic advisors post relevant opportunities.

Foreign language study

Students pursuing the Neuroscience B.S. degree must demonstrate third-semester proficiency in a single foreign language. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 70 languages.

Because the Neuroscience B.S. major allows the study of any of these languages, you can choose to continue studying a foreign language you studied in high school, or you can try a new language.

Here is partial list of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Students majoring in sciences have a wide range of options to choose from.

Neuroscience majors have studied abroad in Denmark, Australia, England, Germany, and South Africa. To stay on track with the heavily sequenced science curriculum, many Neuroscience students choose to take advantage of summer study abroad options.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Neuroscience faculty, your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

These student associations are supported by the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and can enrich your Neuroscience experience, helping you prepare for a career or graduate school:

Here are some other groups of interest to many Neuroscience majors:

  • ActiveMinds works to increase awareness about symptoms of mental illness and resources in and around the IU community
  • Crimson CORPS (Caring, Open-Minded, Respectful, Peer Support) promotes a culture of compassion and action on the IU Bloomington campus
  • Global Brigades empowers volunteers and under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities and inspire all involved to collaboratively work towards an equal world
  • IU Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students aims to address the needs of minority pre-health students at Indiana University

Psi Chi Honors Society is an academic honor society for students in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Members are committed to academic excellence in the fields of Psychology and Neuroscience, local volunteering, and active participation within the Department.

Collins Living-Learning Center is located in an historic setting close to the heart of campus, just steps away from the Psychology Building. The Collins community is intentionally academically diverse, and includes students from different majors across the university. Read more about the student experience at Collins.

The Women in STEM Living-Learning Center is home to a group of undergraduate women of all levels (freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors) who are driven to achieve in the fields of science, technology, informatics, and mathematics, or STIM.

Explore beINvolved to get connected to any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students and alumni who wish to get involved with a professional organization may be interested in the Society for Neuroscience, the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, or the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.                                         

 

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

Students who choose to major in Neuroscience have a wide range of advanced topics to consider once the required courses are completed. The department offers a number of advanced seminar and laboratory classes, as well as opportunities to work one-on-one with faculty in their laboratories. Depending on the choice of courses or labs, a student could master the following skills:

  • A comprehensive understanding of the relation between chemical, biological and neural systems as they relate to behavior
  • An understanding of various brain regions and their functions
  • An overview of the neurobiology of disorders such depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease
  • Basic laboratory skills that allow you to pose and then answer questions that are at the frontier of neuroscience knowledge, using rigorous methods that adhere to ethical principles
  • Communication skills that enable you to make presentations at regional or even national conferences, and perhaps to write a senior honors thesis
  • Broad exposure to how the diversity of behavior and capacities of humans and animals provides the means to reverse engineer a neural system
  • Should you wish to apply to medical school, a set of courses can be chosen that provide a solid foundation for the MCAT

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with a career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Use the IU Career Guides to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. These offer information about each field's preferred educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

The job market

Students with a degree in Neuroscience are well prepared to work in academic science and medicine as well as education, biotechnology, life sciences, public policy, science writing, publishing, philanthropy, and law. 

Other areas include academic research and administration, pharmaceutical research, program management within government, science writing and publishing, secondary education and science advocacy, research-related positions in biotechnology, the life sciences, or the pharmaceutical industry.

IU graduates with the Neuroscience B.S. now hold many positions, including:

  • Biological technician
  • Biologist
  • Biophysicist
  • Chemist
  • Environmental scientist
  • Microbiologist
  • Quality management chemist

Talk with Neuroscience faculty, an academic advisor, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

The following resources can be of assistance to you if you are interested in teaching English abroad, further honing your language, teaching, and communication skills:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Good examples of resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Neuroscience B.S. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as Biology, Biotechnology, Comparative Human Development, Education, Law, Medicine, Molecular Biophysics, Neuroscience, and Public Health.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Neuroscience have gone into careers with top pharmaceutical companies, small biotech startups, academic institutions and industry. Program graduates now occupy leadership positions in biomedical research across the country.

You might also consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:

Alumni connections

The Department of Psychological and Brain Science's PBS Update Newsletter offers alumni updates.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Neuroscience major attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically possess some of the following qualities:

  • A strong general interest in science, along with a specific interest in understanding how the nervous system works to control behavior
  • Aspiration to pursue a career in medicine, veterinary medicine, or pharmacy
  • Desire to pursue post-graduate training in neuroscience or other life sciences
  • Desire to obtain a research-related position (e.g., laboratory technician, research assistant) in biotechnology, the life sciences, or the pharmaceutical industry

Learn more

Contact the Psychology and Neuroscience academic advisors and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
psyneuro@indiana.edu