Skip Navigation

Skip to Main Content

Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience

Johns Hopkins seal
Neuroscience > Undergraduate Program > Major Requirements

Major requirements

In addition to meeting the School of Arts and Sciences general requirements for the BA degree, students majoring in neuroscience must complete all of the courses listed in the sections below. As soon as students declare their major, they will be assigned a faculty advisor with whom they will discuss their program completion. For a checklist, please click here. Students must receive a grade of C- or better in all required courses.


Cellular and molecular neuroscience focuses on the mechanisms by which information flows within and among cells in the nervous system and the mechanisms through which the cellular structure of the nervous system develops and is maintained. Topics include the molecular basis of membrane permeability, action potentials, sensory transduction, synaptic transmission, neuronal modulation, mechanisms of drug action, and the molecular basis of genetic disorders of the nervous system.

Cognitive neuroscience focuses on how cognitive functions, such as vision or language, are implemented by the brain. Drawing upon a variety of techniques for probing the working brain at cognitive and neural levels—including functional neuroimaging, analysis of cognitive impairments in brain-damaged patients, and electrophysiological techniques—research in cognitive neuroscience seeks to relate mental representations and computations to brain mechanisms and processes.

Systems neuroscience seeks to relate brain structure and functioning to behaviors and related physiological processes. Research in this area explores the description and analysis of neural circuits. This includes identifying the brain nuclei and interconnections making up a circuit, identifying and investigating the implicated neurotransmitters, and characterizing the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that modulate the development and adult functioning of the circuit. Topics as diverse as learning and memory, communication, sensory systems, and motivated behaviors (reproduction, feeding, aggression, etc.) are explored from this perspective. Another large section of systems neuroscience involves the visual, auditory, and somatosensory sensory systems as well as learning and adaptation of the motor system.

Neuroscience Sequence/Core Set of Coursework (12 credits, required)

These courses are normally taken during the semester listed and in the following order:

080.203 Cognitive Neuroscience - Freshman/Sophomore Spring, prerequisite: none, but highly recommended are either one of the following: 050.105, or 200.141, or 080.105
080.305 The Nervous System I - Sophomore/Junior Fall, prerequisite 080.203
080.306 The Nervous System II - Sophomore/Junior Spring, prerequisite 080.305
080.250 Neuroscience Lab - Junior/Senior Fall or Spring, or any time after 080.305 & 306 have been completed.

Mathematics and Science Courses (49 credits, required)

110.106 Calculus I for Biological Sciences (or 110.108)
110.107 Calculus II for Biological Sciences (or 110.109)
550.211 Probability & Statistics for the Life Sciences (effective with the class of 2014)
030.101 Introductory Chemistry I
030.105 Introductory Chemistry Laboratory I
030.204 Introductory Chemistry II
030.106 Introductory Chemistry Laboratory II
030.205 Introductory Organic Chemistry I
171.101 General Physics I (or 171.103)
171.111 General Physics Laboratory I
171.102 General Physics II (or 171.104)
171.112 General Physics Laboratory II

Additional Requirements for Premedical Students (but not required by the major)

These courses are optional for students not seeking a premedical degree track.     

030.206 Introductory Organic Chemistry II
030.225 Organic Chemistry Laboratory

Cellular and Molecular Track (required)

020.305 Biochemistry
020.315 Biochemistry Lab
020.306 Cell Biology
020.315 Cell Biology Lab

Cognitive and Systems Track (required)

Students following a Cognitive or Systems Concentration track must complete either the above Biochemistry/Cell Biology sequence or the following: 

020.151 General Biology I
020.153 General Biology Laboratory I
020.152 General Biology II
020.154 General Biology Laboratory II

Advanced Courses (12 credits, required)

Twelve (12) credits of advanced neuroscience coursework (300 level or above) are required for the major. Nine (9) of the credits must be in the student's chosen area of concentration. Only approved courses will be accepted. 
For an updated list of MOST recently approved and offered upper levels, please visit this page.

Fall Courses (when available/not all-inclusive):

020.317 Signaling in Development & Disease (CM), beginning w/FA08 class will be offered every other Fall
020.607 Special Topics in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (CM)
020.614 Neuronal Signaling Mechanisms (CM)
050.370 Formal Methods in Cognitive Science (CG)
050.602 Topics in Cognitive Neuropsychology (CG)
050.801 Research Seminar in Cognitive Neuropsychology (CG)
080.330 Brain Injury and Recovery of Function (CM), (ST) (W)
080.345 Great Discoveries in Neuroscience (ST)(CM)
080.351 Workshop in Neuroanatomy (ST)
080.352 Primate Brain Function (ST)
080.355 Visual System (ST)
200.312 Imaging the Human Mind (CG)(ST)
200.344 Behavioral Endocrinology (ST) (W, only for Fa05 & Fa06)
200.357 Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory (CG) (W)
200.642 Neural Circuits and Behavior (ST)
250.345 Cellular and Molecular Physiology (CM)
580.439 Models of the Neuron (ST)
580.625 Structure and Function Auditory and Vestibular Systems (ST)
580.626 Structure and Function Auditory and Vestibular Systems (ST)

Spring Courses (when available/not all-inclusive):

020.310 Developmental Neurobiology (CM)
050.315 Cognitive Neuropsychology of Visual Perception (CG)
050.326 Foundations of Cognitive Science A (CG) (W)
050.332 Developmental Cog. Neuroscience (CG)
080.310 Communication Between Cells (CM)
080.340 Neuroplasticity (CM)(ST) (W)
080.811 Readings in Systems Neuroscience II (ST)(only 1 credit)
200.304 Introduction to the Neuroscience of Decision Making (CG)(ST)
200.329 Brain, Communication, and Evolution (ST)
200.368 Sleep, Dreams and Altered States of Consciousness (CG)(ST)
200.370 Functional Human Neuroanatomy (ST) (CG)
200.372 Psychology of Aging (ST)
200.376 Psychopharmacology (CM) (ST)
580.472 Medical Imaging Systems (CG)
580.630 Theoretical NS (ST)(CG)

Medical School Courses (when available/not all-inclusive):

280.700 CM Photoreceptor (CM) Jan - March 2008
440.701 Diseases of the Brain (CM) March - May 2008     

Key: (CM)=Cellular and Molecular; (ST)=Systems; (CP)=Computational;  (W)=Writing Intensive

Research (6 credits, required)

Six (6) credits of research, obtained through work in one of the neuroscience laboratories participating in the program, are required for completion of the major. Students register for 080.5xx, Research in Neuroscience, where the last two digits of the course number correspond to the student's year and semester. Students may take no more than 3 credits per term and no more that 6 credits per academic year.

Please click here to view and/or download a copy of the Neuroscience Checklist.