c/o Department of Psychology
P.O. Box 400400
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400
Overview Neuroscience is the multidisciplinary study of the nervous system. In addition to focusing on basic scientific problems related to psychology, biology, and chemistry, neuroscience also forms the fundamental basis of many medical specialties, including psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery. The basic and applied nature of the field has attracted a large number of scientists during the past 25 years.
Increasingly, neuroscientists must be well trained in a variety of scientific disciplines to keep up with the rapid advances in the field. A successful neuroscientist must be trained in fields spanning from molecular neurobiology to cognitive neuroscience. The program in neuroscience is designed to provide majors with the necessary skills to master this highly-multidisciplinary scientific field.
The objectives of the major are:
- To provide students with a structure for coursework that assures a solid grounding in natural science and an overall familiarity with neuroscience as a discipline.
- To sponsor events that communicate neuroscience research and activities on grounds, as well as provide students with information on research careers. Such events include special lectures, symposiums and workshops on graduate school and career options.
- To foster active participation by undergraduate students in Neuroscience Graduate Program laboratories across the grounds by providing opportunities to conduct research in neuroscience laboratories in the College and in the School of Medicine.
Faculty The director of the program is David Hill, Professor of Psychology. The Program’s Advisory Committee is composed of four neuroscientists. They are the current director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program and three faculty members appointed by the Chair of Psychology, the Chair of Biology, and the Chair of the Department of Neuroscience in the School of Medicine, respectively. The director and the advisory committee will select students for the major, advise majors and determine the ongoing direction of the program. The faculty primarily responsible for classroom training are neuroscientists in the Biology and Psychology departments, all of whom are also members of the Neuroscience Graduate Program. Faculty from the School of Medicine that are also members of the Neuroscience Graduate Program (in over 15 departments) will also participate in the program through teaching and through mentoring research projects.
Students The major is designed for students with a strong interest in the biology of the nervous system and a desire to conduct original research in the field with U.Va. neuroscientists. A maximum of 25 students will be selected for the program each year from a pool of applicants. Students will be chosen on the basis of prior academic performance and an essay explaining the student’s interest in neuroscience. The program will provide majors with a background for continued study in graduate and professional schools.
Requirements for the Major
Thirty credits are required for the major in neuroscience with at least a 2.500 GPA in the major. Students are dropped from the major if they fall below a cumulative GPA of 2.500 for all designated neuroscience courses. At least two courses at the 400 or 500 level in neuroscience designated courses with at least one each from the Department of Biology and one from the Department of Psychology are required. The courses of current topics in neuroscience, research, and honors thesis do not count toward this requirement (a list of designated courses follows).
Distinguished Majors Program in Neuroscience
Students with superior academic performance are encouraged to apply for the Distinguished Major Program (DMP) during their sixth semester. The Program culminates in writing a thesis of empirical research done under the mentorship of a faculty member in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP). The requirements for admission to the DMP are:
- Satisfaction of all College requirements as stated in this record with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.400 in the student’s College and university courses;
- A GPA of at least 3.400 in all courses taken as part of the Neuroscience major;
- A brief (1-2 page) proposal of the project along with a written endorsement of the work by a faculty member of the Neuroscience Graduate Program.
To gain admission to the DMP, the student submits his/her cumulative and Neuroscience GPA (with transcripts) and a proposal to the Director of the DMP. The names of the primary (i.e., mentor) and secondary faculty readers and the declared graduation date must also be included. Once admitted, the student registers for three credits of NESC 497 in the first semester of their fourth year. In this course, students conduct their research under the supervision of a NGP faculty member. In the second semester, the student registers for NESC 498 to finalize his/her thesis, ending with a journal manuscript. The research project is intended to foster independent thought and develop the student’s critical ability to formulate and conduct scientific research. The date of the student’s final submission of the DMP thesis to the committee is two weeks before the last day of classes that semester. The two-member faculty committee (mentor and second reader) reports its evaluation of Distinction, High Distinction, or Highest Distinction of the thesis to the DMP Director by the first day of the exam period. The executive committee of the major then considers the thesis evaluation along with the student’s academic record to submit a final level of distinction to the College Registrar. Students also receive a letter grade for both NESC 497 and NESC 498.
For further information on entering the Distinguished Major Program in Neuroscience, contact the current DMP director, David L. Hill, 982-4728 or email@example.com.
Courses Related to a Major in Neuroscience
Prerequisites In order to apply for the major, students must be enrolled in, or have already completed the following courses and have a C+ or better in all courses to declare the major.
- BIOL 201 & 202 Introductory Biology
- PSYC 220 Introduction to Psychobiology or BIOL 317 Introduction to Neurobiology
- CHEM 141 Introductory College Chemistry
- CHEM 142 Principles of Chemistry
- CHEM 141L Chemistry Laboratory
- CHEM 142L Chemistry Laboratory
- MATH 121 Applied Calculus 2 or MATH 131 Calculus 1 (MATH 131 is strongly recommended)
Note: Courses listed in (1) and (2) above also count toward the 30 required credits for the major. Courses listed in (3), (4), (5) and (6) do not count toward the 30 credits. CHEM 181, 182, 181L and 182L also satisfy the requirements listed in (3) through (6).
For more information, contact the director, David L. Hill, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 400400, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4400; (434) 982-4728; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Electives Approved for the Major The following is a list of designated courses offered on a regular basis; however, the list is not exhaustive.
- PSYC 527 - Chemistry of Synaptic Transmission Credits: 3 (IR)
- PSYC 531 - Functional Neuroanatomy Credits: 3 (IR)