In addition to meeting the School of Arts and Sciences general requirements for the BS degree, students majoring in neuroscience must complete all of the courses listed below. Exceptions can be made as soon as students declare their major. At that time, students will be assigned a faculty adviser with whom they will discuss their program completion.

Students must receive a grade of C- or better in all required courses.

Focus Areas

Cellular and molecular neuroscience

Cellular and molecular neuroscience (CM) 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.

Note, in addition to the Course Requirements outlined below CM students will need to complete Cell Biology (AS.020.306; offered in spring)  and Cell Biology Lab (AS.020.316; offered fall and spring).

Cognitive neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience (CG) 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.

Computational neuroscience

Computational neuroscience (CP) focuses on applying mathematical tools and theories to investigate brain function. This discipline incorporates a diverse set of approaches from mathematics, physics, engineering, and computer science, to understand how the nervous system processes information. Such principles are used to answer questions across a variety of domains of neuroscience: cellular and molecular, systems and circuits, and behavioral and cognitive.

Note, in addition to the Course Requirements outlined below, CP students will need to complete additional coursework. Students declaring the neuroscience major in spring 2023 and later are required to take Introduction to Computing (AS.250.205). All CP students are required to take a linear algebra and differential equation course. There are a number of options for fulfilling the linear algebra and differential equations requirement. Option 1: Either Linear Algebra (AS.110.201) OR Honors Linear Algebra (AS.110.212) AND Differential Equations with Applications (AS.110.302). Option 2:  Students can take the combined Linear Algebra and Differential Equations course  (EN.553.291).

Systems neuroscience

Systems neuroscience (ST) 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.

Course Requirements

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

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

  • 050.203 Neuroscience: Cognitive – Any time, spring, no prerequisite, but strongly recommended that students have background in one of the following courses: 050.105 OR 200.141
  • 080.305 Neuroscience: Cellular and Systems I – Sophomore/junior fall, prerequisite 200.141 or 080.105 or 050.105 or 050.203
  • 080.306 Neuroscience: Cellular and Systems II  – Sophomore/junior spring, prerequisite 080.305
  • 080.250 Neuroscience Lab – fall or spring, any time after 080.305 and 080.306 have been completed

Mathematics and Science Courses (49 credits, required) 


Students must complete one of the following biology options. For students with Biology credit from an exam (AP, IB, GCE), exam credit may not use credits towards this requirement.

  • Gen Bio I with lab
  • Gen Bio II with lab
  • Biochem with lab (can use Protein Engineering and Biochem Lab)
  • Genetics with lab
  • Cell Bio with lab
  • Comparative Physiology with lab

For pre-med students Neuroscience: Cellular & Systems II and Neuroscience Lab will count as one of the Biology requirements. See more on the Office of Pre-professional Advising website.

For students who are obtaining a Cellular and Molecular focus area, one of the biology options must be Cell Biology with lab.

Other Math and Science Requirements

  • General Chemistry I & II with labs
  • Organic Chemistry I (for students applying to medical school, Organic Chemistry II & lab)
  • Physics I & II with labs
  • Calculus I & II
  • Probability and Statistics for the Life Sciences

Advanced Courses (12 credits, required)

Twelve credits of advanced neuroscience coursework (300 level or above) are required for the major. Nine of the credits must be in the student’s chosen area of concentration. Only approved courses will be accepted.

Research (6 credits)

Six credits of research, obtained through work in one of the neuroscience laboratories participating in the program, are required for completion of the major. Students may take no more than 3 credits per term and no more than 6 credits per academic year. Read more about research credit requirements.

Scientific Communication and Mentoring (two semesters)

Students need to complete two semesters of Scientific Communication and Mentoring. Students are strongly encouraged to only take this course when they are either actively involved in research or have completed at least three credits of research.

Distribution Requirements

Students must earn:

  • 9 credits of humanities (H)
  • 9 credits of social science (S)
  • 9 credits of natural science, quantitative, or engineering (N, Q, E)

Some, but not all, of these credits may be covered by courses in the major.

Writing and Communication Requirement (for students entering JHU fall 2024 and later)

Neuroscience students must take 6 credits of Writing and Communication foundational ability (FA#1) courses within the major. The required two semesters of Scientific Communications and Mentoring will satisfy 3 of the 6 credits. The remaining 3 credits can be satisfied by taking one of the advanced courses designate with the FA#1 tag.

University Requirements

As students fulfill the course requirements, they need to ensure that the university requirements are also met to be eligible for graduation.