Undergraduate Program of Study
The Neuroscience Certificate Program is designed for undergraduates with strong interests in Neuroscience who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary study of the brain in their Senior independent work. The program encourages the serious study of molecular, cellular, developmental and systems neuroscience as it interfaces with cognitive and behavioral research. Current Neuroscience research examples at Princeton include: plasticity and timing-dependent learning rules at synapses, coincidence detection and computation in dendrites, adaptation and pattern detection in neural circuits, cellular and circuit mechanisms of short-term memory, sensory-motor transformations in the cerebral cortex, neural stem cells in the adult brain, viral infections of the nervous system, brain imaging studies of cognitive functions such as attention and memory in human subjects, and mathematical and computational analysis of neural network function. The program offers a combination of courses and interdisciplinary research that meet the requirements of the Molecular Biology and Psychology departments. Students majoring in other disciplines are also encouraged to enroll in the program – a course of study tailored to the requirements of their home department will be designed with the help of the program directors. In the past, students from a wide range of majors, including Engineering, Economics, Chemistry, Art History, English and Music, have successfully completed the Neuroscience Certificate program. Students in the Neuroscience Certificate program will be prepared to meet the entry requirements of graduate schools in Neuroscience, as well as Molecular Biology or Psychology. A certificate in neuroscience is awarded to students who successfully complete the program.
The Program in Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience
The Program in Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience (QCN) is a special track with the Certificate in Neuroscience. It is designed for undergraduates who wish to pursue a quantitative approach to the study of brain function. Students must maintain a B+ average in the required courses and the senior thesis. As is the case with the Program in Neuroscience certificate, graduates of the QCN track will be prepared to meet the entry requirements of graduate schools in neuroscience, as well as molecular biology or psychology; in addition, QCN students will have acquired quantitative data analysis, modeling, and programming skills.
Requirements for Admission
Students are admitted to the program once they have chosen their major and consulted with the Program Directors, who will assist them in selecting an adviser. The adviser will typically supervise the student's junior independent work; the student will identify an adviser for the senior thesis late in the junior year.
Program of Study
Students in the Program in Neuroscience develop, in consultation with their adviser, a course of study built upon their departmental concentration that consists of the curriculum listed below, plus junior and senior independent work in neuroscience. Program courses may not be taken Pass/D/Fail.
- One year of calculus: MAT 102 and 104 orMAT 103 and MAT 104
- One semester of statistics can be substituted for a semester of calculus: ORF 245 or MOL/EEB 355 (but not PSY 251)
- Higher math can also be substituted for calculus: MAT 201, 202, 203, or 204
- Advanced placement credit for math is assessed according to the standards of the Math Department
- NEU 258 Fundamentals of Neuroscience
- NEU 259 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
In addition to these core courses, all students are expected to take three Neuroscience electives fromat least two of the areas below.
Recognizing that Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary program whose excitement lies in new and changing areas at the interface of biology, psychology and other related disciplines, alternative programs of study may be arranged at the discretion of the Program directors and the Neuroscience Curriculum Committee.
Note: Electives are not offered every year - please check the course offerings on the Registrar's website and the certificate program handbook.
Molecular Mechanisms and Disease
Circuits and Systems
Cognitive and Social Neuroscience
Must take 3 courses from a restricted list instead of taking 3 electives.
- NEU 501B Neuroscience: From Molecules to Systems to Behavior (Cohen, Tank)
- NEU 502B Neuroscience: From Molecules to Systems to Behavior (Cohen, Tank)
- NEU/MOL 437 Computational Neuroscience (Brody)
- NEU/PSY 330 Introduction to Connectionist Models: Bridging between Brain and Mind (Norman)
- PSY/NEU 338 Animal learning and decision making – psychological, computational and neural perspectives (Niv)
- PSY/NEU 422 Dynamics in Cognition (Buschman)
Junior and Senior Independent Research
Requirements for junior independent work are determined by each student’s home department. A senior thesis in Neuroscience is an important component of the Neuroscience Certificate Program and is supervised by faculty. For students concentrating in departments that make it impossible to do senior work that fulfills both departmental and certificate program expectations, an additional research report will be required. This report must be co-advised by faculty in the Neuroscience program. For all students, independent research topics can be laboratory or theoretical research projects, and are approved in advance by the Program Directors, in consultation with faculty advisers.