Earlham’s neuroscience program provides the opportunity for students to explore the complexities of the brain and nervous system and how they affect human behavior, thought, emotion and psychiatric disease.
You will have the opportunity to work closely with biology and psychology faculty who are devoted to helping you develop your research interests, establish professional networks and find your career path.
Top job industries for neuroscience majors include research, lab work and healthcare services.
“From 9th grade on I’ve been drawn to studying the brain. I took my first neural course then, and ever since I’ve wanted to know everything there is to know about it. I figured that there’s not a lot that we know about the brain, and it’s really cool to think that I could discover something that no one else knows.”
Malvika Dua ’20
Understanding the brain and the nervous system
While at Earlham, you will be able to pursue original research topics with individual faculty members, and in your senior year you will develop and conduct your own neuroscience research project.
Human cadaver lab
In the anatomy and physiology course you will conduct a dissection of a human cadaver. This opportunity to conduct a detailed, scientific examination of a real human body and brain is rarely provided to undergraduate students at liberal arts colleges.
Internships and research experiences
Funded summer internships are available at the Stark Neuroscience Research Institute of the Indiana University School of Medicine as well as other locations.
Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of study and so you will work closely with professors in both the biology and psychology departments.
Neuroscience majors can pursue graduate study in human or veterinary medicine, healthcare, as well as highly specialized neuroscience programs in biology and psychology.
Recent graduates are pursuing advanced degrees at University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan and University of Edinburgh, to name a few. Our alumni pursue a wide variety of careers, including medicine, healthcare, scientific research and physical/occupational therapy.
If you’re planning to major in neuroscience you should speak with a faculty member in biology or psychology early in your undergraduate career.
Faculty will help lay out a four-year plan that includes required courses, elective courses that support the specific neuroscience area of interest, opportunities for off-campus study and possible internships.
Early consultation is important to the sequencing of several courses so study remains an option off-campus.
In general, your four-year plan should consist of the following:
- CHEM 111 in your first semester
- CHEM 221 and BIOL 112 in your second semester
- BIOL 341 in the fall of your sophomore year
- BIOL 242 in your sophomore or junior year
- Begin taking courses in psychology by the end of your sophomore year.
- A summer research experience is highly recommended. Faculty and staff from the Center for Global and Career Education will work with you to identify appropriate opportunities.
As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which you will cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects you to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.
As part of your general education, you will complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, you will meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.
To earn a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience, you must complete 44 credit hours (12 courses plus a 1-credit seminar), in addition to general education requirements:
- BIOL 112 Cells, Genes and Inheritance
- BIOL 242 Topics in Neuroscience
- BIOL 341 Cell Physiology
- BIOL 345 Anatomy and Physiology of the Nervous System
- CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry
- CHEM 221 Organic Chemistry I
- PSYC 245 Research Methods and Statistics
- PSYC 250 Brain and Behavior
- PSYC 353 Behavioral Neuroscience
- PSYC 486 Research Project
- At least one of the following:
- PSYC 340 Racism and Public Health
- PSYC 351 Learning and Memory
- PSYC 363 Developmental Psychopathology
- PSYC 366 Cradle and Grave
- PSYC 376 Health Psychology
- PSYC 378 Psychoactive Drugs and Behavior
- At least two of the following courses, totaling at least seven credits:
- BIOL 111 Ecological Biology
- BIOL 200 Epidemiology
- BIOL 226 Biological Diversity
- BIOL 251 Introduction to Nutrition Science
- BIOL 343 Immunology
- BIOL 346 Vertebrate Zoology
- BIOL 347 Anatomy and Physiology of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Renal and Digestive Systems
- BIOL 348 Ornithology
- BIOL 351 Human Genetics and Genomics
- BIOL 357 Animal Behavior
- BIOL 362 Biology of Insects
- BIOL 383 Bioinformatics
- BIOL 451 Evolutionary Biology
- BIOL 461 Microbiology
- BIOL 464 Advanced Cell Physiology
- BIOL 466 Molecular Genetics
- BIOL 467 Neuropharmacology
- BIOL 481 Internship, Field Study and Other Field Experiences
- CHEM 351 Biochemistry
- These courses are also recommended depending on your interest, but not required:
- MATH 120 or 300 Statistics
- MATH 180 and 280 Calculus A and B
- PHYS 120 or 125 Physics I
- PHYS 230 or 235 Physics II
- CS 128 Programming and Problem Solving
- CS 290 Computational Modeling Original Research Project
Additional notes to keep in mind:
If you’re interested in post-graduate study, including medical school, you should review entrance requirements of the programs in which you’re interested, since many programs require physics, calculus and additional chemistry courses.
If you’re interested in taking biochemistry, remember the prerequisites for this course are CHEM 111, 221, 321 and 331.
If you’re interested in animal behavior, ornithology, biology of insects and/or vertebrate zoology, remember that BIOL 111 Ecological Biology is a prerequisite.
With approval from neuroscience faculty, specialty courses that are offered on an occasional basis may substitute for one or more of the elective courses.
Many Earlhamites have interned at the Stark Neuroscience Research Institute of the Indiana University School of Medicine, and funding is available for these interns through the Earlham Center for Global and Career Education.
Other neuroscience majors have interned as research assistants at the Shanghai Mental Health Center, Schepens Eye Research Institute, the Regenstrief Institute, the University of Chicago and many other locations.
Yes! We strongly encourage first-year students who are considering a major in neuroscience to speak with their faculty adviser as early as possible about their interest in off-campus study. This allows your adviser to help you create a four-year plan that incorporates an off-campus semester into your coursework.
Learn more about available programs via our Center for Global and Career Education.
Are you fascinated by the human brain?
As an interdisciplinary major, Earlham’s neuroscience program draws on psychology, biology, chemistry and other fields, allowing for a deep and wide understanding of how the brain and nervous system work.
If you’re interested in a career in healthcare, medicine, scientific research or therapy, the neuroscience major might be a good fit for you.
After thorough grounding in the fundamentals of biology and psychology followed by exploration of special topics in advanced courses, the capstone experience for the neuroscience major is the completion of an original research topic that integrates psychology and biology.
For example, student projects have investigated the impact of peppermint on attention and performance.
Another student examined the impact of stress, isolation, and decision making in mice.
A third project examined how exposure to humorous stimuli influenced physiological stress responses.
As a Senior Research (PSYC 486) student, you can work with an animal if you:
- have substantial previous experience with your study species, to the point where you can work independently or with minimal guidance;
- and a faculty member with the species expertise has agreed on working together and on funding for the animals (even if a small cost is paid by you);
- have your research project designed and approved by IACUC prior to the beginning of their Senior Research course term;
- have completed all the training requirements for animal research at Earlham (Moodle Page: Animal User Guide), including medical evaluation, before the beginning of your Senior Research course term; and
- have the approval of one of the Senior Research (PSYC486) professors for the term you will be doing the research.