Roadmap of Our Neuroscience Major
At DePauw, the Psychology major requires a minimum of 11.5 courses, which includes key background in science and statistics, advanced neuroscience courses, and at least two electives that allow each student to customize the major based on academic and career interests. As you plan your 4 years at DePauw, we recommend the following order for taking classes in the Neuroscience major:
- Five core courses in science and mathematics provide tools that serve as underpinnings for neuroscience.
- BIO 101 Molecules, Genes, and Cells
- CHEM 120 Structure and Properties of Organic Molecules
- CSC 121 Computer Science I
- PSY 100 Introductory Psychology
- PSY 214 or MATH 141 Statistics
Students generally take these classes during their first year and sophomore year at DePauw. The courses can be taken in any order, and it’s possible for one class to be taken during junior year if the student is unable to fit it into a schedule sooner; however, given that these are introductory courses, each of the departments prioritizes first year and sophomore students, so it’s easier to enroll in the courses during those years.
- Four courses provide more advanced neuroscience training that builds from a student’s background in the introductory courses
BIO 382 Neurobiology with Lab
PSY 300 (301) Neuroscience and Behavior (with Lab)
NEUR 320 Neuroscience Seminar (.5 course credit)
NEUR 341 Cognitive and Social Neuroscience with Lab
Students generally take these courses during junior and senior years. Once again, they can be taken in any order, but we strongly encourage students to take NEUR 320 during junior year, as it helps prepare students for their senior neuroscience thesis. As can also be noted from the list, we highly value hands-on, laboratory learning experiences.
- At least two relevant elective courses must be taken – these provide an opportunity for students to dive more deeply into the areas of neuroscience that most fascinate them and to explore interdisciplinary neuroscience topics.
Example elective courses include:
BIO 385 Molecular Neurobiology
CHEM 343 Advanced Biochemistry
CSC 330 Artificial Intelligence
KINS 254 Human Physiology
NEUR 349 Neuropsychology
PHIL 234 Biomedical Ethics
PHYS 370 Atomic and Molecular Physics
PSY 350 Evolutionary Psychology
SOC 315 Sociology of Madness
Elective courses are generally taken during sophomore, junior, and senior years, and they include 200-level and 300-level courses; however, at least one elective must be taken at the 300-level, as we want to ensure that all majors are developing a sufficiently advanced understanding of neuroscience and relevant tools, methodologies, and perspectives. Over 30 courses in 8 departments have been approved as electives, thereby allowing our majors to individualize their studies. This has the further benefic of bringing eclectic backgrounds into the upper level seminars and lab classes.
As the culmination of your Neuroscience major, you complete a senior thesis by developing deep expertise on a topic of your choice.
Our students can choose to complete a one-semester thesis or a two-semester, empirical thesis. In both cases, the thesis is modeled after an NIH grant proposal, with a research question, hypotheses, and study design that are well-supported by the existing literature in the field. You choose a relevant topic of great personal interest, and you are sponsored by a faculty mentor throughout the semester (or year). You extensively read research articles on your topic and meet with your sponsor each week to discuss the articles and gradually develop expertise. Throughout the semester, you also meet with a seminar group to give oral presentations on your developing thesis, and your sponsor provides feedback on written drafts of your thesis. You ultimately submit your final NIH grant proposal at the end of the semester and give an oral presentation that covers background on your topic as well as your novel research proposal.
If you’re strongly interested in gaining additional research experience and perhaps even pursuing Neuroscience research in graduate school and beyond, we encourage you to complete a full-year empirical thesis. For the full year project, you still construct an NIH grant proposal during the fall semester, but you also conduct the research during the spring semester and subsequently incorporate your study and its findings as preliminary data in your grant proposal.
Our department greatly values the experiences that students gain outside of the classroom, and we encourage students to be proactive in testing their interests. Each semester we share internal documents with our majors for internship and co-curricular opportunities (including semester, Winter Term, and summer opportunities) as well as networking resources with alumni who have volunteered to discuss their respective careers and career paths with current students. Please see our Internships, Co-curricular experiences, and Graduate Planning https://www.depauw.edu/academics/departments-programs/psychology/student-and-academic-informati/ page for additional details.
Undergraduate research is a well-documented “high impact practice” that allows students to engage with fascinating questions and develop skills with methodologies, research equipment, statistical analyses and interpretation, and professional writing and presentation. As such, undergraduate research is also extremely valued by graduate and professional schools and employers. Our neuroscience major includes 6 hands-on, laboratory courses (and additional elective lab courses). Our students can conduct research with our faculty during the semester and during Winter Term, as well as competitive, funded opportunities during the summer. Moreover, all of our majors complete a senior thesis that is modeled as a full NIH research grant proposal for an NIH grant.
Please see our Research https://www.depauw.edu/academics/departments-programs/psychology/research/ pages for additional details.