Graduation Requirements

Course of Study for the Neuroscience BA beginning Fall 2023

Beginning spring semester 2024, all students who meet the requirements below will be admitted to the BA in Neuroscience (NESC). Students must have completed or be enrolled in at least one of the 3000-level BIOL/PSYC core NESC courses listed below, and have received or receive a C+ or above in each. Prospective majors must have a 2.500 cumulative GPA at UVA and be in good academic standing. Once admitted, students are required to take fifteen (15) credit hours of core courses, and twelve (12) credit hours of elective courses. Students must maintain at least a 2.500 GPA and a grade of C+ or better in these courses. Students will be dropped from the major if they fail to meet these requirements

Pre-requisite Requirements for Admission

Students must have completed or be enrolled in at least one of the 3000-level BIOL/PSYC core NESC courses listed below, and have received or receive a C+ or above in each. If currently taking a prerequisite course, acceptance will be considered conditional until a a C+ or better is earned. All courses below are 3 credits:

  • BIOL 3000 - Cell Biology 
  • BIOL 3010 - Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 3050 - Introduction to Neurobiology
  • PSYC 3160 - Cognitive Neuroscience 
  • PSYC 3200 - Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Prospective majors must also have a 2.500 cumulative GPA at UVA and be in good academic standing.

Required Courses in Other Sciences

Students are recommended (but not required) to take these courses before applying for NESC major, since many are prerequisites of Core courses and Electives. All courses in other sciences must be completed before degree completion.

  1. A series of Introductory of Chemistry and lab, CHEM 1410-1411-1420-1421 (Introductory College Chemistry and Laboratory), or CHEM 1610-1611-1620-1621 (Introductory Chemistry for Engineers and Laboratory), or CHEM 1810-1811-1820-1821 (Principles of Chemical Structure, Principles of Organic Chemistry, and Laboratory) are required.
  2. MATH 1210 A Survey of Calculus I or MATH 1310 Calculus I (MATH 1310 is strongly recommended) is required.
  3. STAT 1601 Intro to Data Science with R, or STAT 1602 Intro to Data Science with Python, or STAT 2020 Statistics for Biologists, or PSYC 2005 Research Methods and Data Analysis I. (STAT 1601 and 1602 are strongly recommended)
  4. Physics - two semesters of physics and lab. General physics I and II (PHYS 1420/1425 & 1429 and 2410/2415 & 2419), or pre-health (PHYS 2010, 2020, 2030, and 2040).
  5. BIOL 2100 - Introduction to Biology with Laboratory: Cell Biology & Genetics

Note: None of the courses in this section count toward the 27 major credits. Up to two CHEM requirement courses can be substituted with other 1000 or 2000 level courses offered in Engineering or Computer Science departments, demonstrating student’s strength in basic sciences that are relevant to neuroscience. However, substitute courses should be discussed with the director of Undergraduate Neuroscience Major for approval.

Core Courses

  1. BIOL 3000 Cell Biology  
  2. BIOL 3010 Genetics & Molecular Biology
  3. BIOL 3050 Introduction to Neurobiology or PSYC 3200 Fundamentals of Neuroscience
  4. *PSYC 3160 Cognitive Neuroscience
  5. Lab requirement can be fulfilled by (a) taking PSYC 3210 RM: Psychobiology Laboratory or NESC 3559 The Study of Neuroscience OR (b) 2 semesters of NESC 3960: Research in Neuroscience, with both semesters in the same lab. All students are encouraged to take PSYC 3210/NESC 3559 even if they are taking NESC 3960.

*This course is often taught at a time that conflicts with a course required for the Distinguished Major Program (DMP). Students who are considered applying to the DMP are strongly encouraged to complete PSYC 3160 no later than the Fall semester of their third year to avoid potential conflicts with DMP courses.


Electives are organized into three groups. Students are required to take 12 credit hours, with at least one course from each group. All courses below are three hours

Group 1: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

  • BIOL 3260 - Editing Genes and Genomes
  • BIOL 4011 - Homeostasis: The Wisdom of the Body 
  • BIOL 4015 - Neural Development Lab: From stem cells to neuronal circuitry 
  • BIOL 4045 - Neurodegenerative Diseases 
  • BIOL 4190 - Biological Clocks 
  • BIOL 4280 - The Genetic Basis of Behavior 
  • BIOL 4310 - Sensory Neurobiology 
  • BIOL 4330 - Wiring the Brain 
  • BIOL 4585 - Advances in Drug Discovery and Emerging Therapies
  • BIOL 4660 - How do they do it? Method and Logic in Biomedical Science 
  • NESC 4245 - Neuroscience through the Nobels 
  • NESC 4265 - Developmental Neurobiology 
  • PSYC 3235 - Introduction to Epigenetics 
  • PSYC 3260 - Hidden Figures: Brain Science Through Diversity 
  • PSYC 4255 - Behavioral Epigenetics 
  • PSYC 4260 - RM: Genetic and Epigenetic Research in Behavior 
  • PSYC 5265 - Functional Neuroanatomy 
  • PSYC 5280 - Neuropsychopharmacology 

Group 2: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

  • BIOL 3250 - Introduction to Animal Behavior 
  • BIOL 4270 - Animal Behavior Laboratory 
  • PSYC 3100 - Learning and the Neuroscience of Behavior 
  • PSYC 3240 - Animal Minds 
  • PSYC 3420 - The Nature Nurture Debate
  • PSYC 3440 Child Psychopathology
  • PSYC 4100 - Neuroscience of Learning, Emotions and Motivation of Functional Behavior
  • PSYC 4155 - Autism: From Neurons to Neighborhoods
  • PSYC 4200 - Neural Mechanisms of Behavior 
  • PSYC 4215 - RM: Computational Methods in Psychology and Neuroscience
  • PSYC 4250 - Brain Systems Involved in Memory
  • PSYC 4280 - Neural Basis of Empathy
  • PSYC 4290 - Memory Distortions
  • PSYC 4310 - Cognitive Aging
  • PSYC 4420 - RM: Brain Mapping with MRI
  • PSYC 4500
    • Brain Mapping with MRI
    • Cognitive Aging
    • Computational Methods in Psychology and Neuroscience
    • Neurodegenerative Experience
    • Research Methods in Developmental Human Neuroscience
    • Origins of the Human Mind
  • PSYC 4607 - Uniquely Human Social Cognition
  • PSYC 5270 - RM: Computational Neuroscience
  • PSYC 5312 - Neurodevelopmental Conditions
  • PSYC 5326 - The Neuroscience of Social Relationships
  • PSYC 5332 - Quantified Cognition
  • PSYC 5500 - Applications of Brain Mapping with MRI

Group 3: Related Science and Quantitative Courses

  • BIOL 3030 - Biochemistry 
  • BIOL 3040 - Developmental and Regenerative Biology
  • BIOL 3090 - Infectious Disease
  • BIOL 3240 - Introduction to Immunology
  • BIOL 4040 - Laboratory in Cell Biology
  • BIOL 4070 - Developmental Biology Laboratory
  • BIOL 4013 - Stem Cells in Development and Disease
  • BIOL 4014 - Cellular Origins of Animal Diversity
  • BIOL 4250 - Human Genetics
  • BIOL 4260 - Cellular Mechanisms
  • BIOL 4320 - Signal Transduction: How cells talk to each other
  • BIOL 4770 - Synthetic Biology
  • BIOL 5070 - Practical Aspects of Light Microscopy
  • CHEM 4410 - Biological Chemistry I
  • CHEM 4411 - Biological Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHEM 4420 - Biological Chemistry II
  • CHEM 4421 - Biological Chemistry Laboratory II
  • CHEM 4440 - Biochemistry for Pre-Health
  • BME 3636 - Neural Network Models of Cognition and Brain Computation
  • PSYC 5323 – RM R in Psychology
  • PSYC 5705 - Introduction to Bayesian Methods
  • PSYC 5710 - Machine Learning and Data Mining

Note: Additional 3000 and 4000 level STEM courses can be used for group 3 with the approval of Director of Undergraduate Neuroscience Major. 


All neuroscience majors are encouraged to apply for the Distinguished Major Program (DMP) during their sixth semester. Neuroscience majors who are contemplating application to the DMP should initiate independent research via NESC 3995, the research course for students not yet accepted to the NESC BA, or NESC 3960, the research course for admitted NESC BA students, as early as possible in their careers at UVA. It is also possible and preferable to initiate independent study during the summer. This need not be taken for course credit, and if the laboratory has sufficient funds, a stipend is possible to cover living expenses.

Distinguished Majors Program (DMP)

DMP Applications for the NESC S25 graduating class are now open! Current 3rd year NESC students can apply here. In order to receive full consideration, applications must be submitted by 11:59pm, March 1st.

All neuroscience majors are encouraged to apply for the Distinguished Major Program (DMP) during their sixth semester. The Neuroscience DMP culminates in writing a thesis of empirical research done under the mentorship of a faculty member who directs research in neuroscience. A select group of DMP students will be selected for oral presentations at the Fozdar Symposium, held just prior to graduation.

Pre-requisites/requirements for admission to the DMP

  • Satisfaction of all college requirements as stated in this record with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.4 in the student’s college and university courses;
  • A GPA of at least 3.4 in all courses taken as part of the Neuroscience Major;
  • A brief (1-2 page) proposal of the project, outlining the research question to be pursued, methods to be used, and expected outcomes that would support the hypothesis. A timetable to complete the project and a written endorsement of the work by the faculty member who will sponsor the distinguished major project should also be included.

Paperwork needs to be completed and approved before the end of classes in the sixth semester.

Steps for applying to the DMP

To gain admission to the DMP, the student submits his/her cumulative and Neuroscience GPA (with transcripts) and a research proposal (max 2 pages) to the Director of the DMP. The research proposal should summarize any results obtained relevant to the thesis project in prior semesters of NESC 3960 or NESC 3995. The names of the primary (i.e., mentor) and secondary faculty reader and the declared graduation date must also be included.  A secondary faculty reader is a faculty member with expertise in the field of the proposed thesis, who must agree in writing to assist in mentoring the student and evaluating the thesis.

Once admitted, the student registers for three credits of NESC 4970 in the first semester of the fourth year. In this course, students conduct research under the supervision of a UVA faculty member who directs research in neuroscience. In the second semester, the student registers for NESC 4980 to complete any unfinished research and write a thesis. 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 for that semester. The two-member faculty committee (mentor and second reader) reports its evaluation 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 (Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction) to the College Registrar.

Admitted DMP students must also enroll in NESC 3980 - Current Topics in Neuroscience first term of their fourth year and in NESC 3985 Current Topics in Neuroscience II in the second term of their fourth year.

For further information on entering the Distinguished Major Program in Neuroscience, students should contact the current director, Jay Hirsh

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at