Neuroscience - A.B., through the Princeton Neuroscience Institute

  • Director

    Jonathan D. Cohen

    David W. Tank

  • Departmental Representative

    Asif A. Ghazanfar

  • Director of Graduate Studies

    Carlos D. Brody

  • Executive Committee

    Michael J. Berry, also Molecular Biology

    Matthew M. Botvinick, also Psychology

    Lisa M. Boulanger, Princeton Neuroscience Institute

    Carlos D. Brody, also Molecular Biology

    Timothy J. Buschman, also Psychology

    Jonathan D. Cohen, also Psychology

    Nathaniel D. Daw, also Psychology

    Lynn W. Enquist, also Molecular Biology

    Asif A. Ghazanfar, also Psychology

    Elizabeth Gould, also Psychology

    Michael S. Graziano, also Psychology

    Uri Hasson, also Psychology

    Barry L. Jacobs, also Psychology

    Sabine Kastner, also Psychology

    Carolyn McBride, also Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 

    Mala Murthy, also Molecular Biology

    Yael Niv, also Psychology

    Kenneth A. Norman, also Psychology

    H. Sebastian Seung, also Computer Science

    Jonathan W. Pillow, also Psychology

    David W. Tank, also Molecular Biology

    Samuel S. H. Wang, also Molecular Biology

    Ilana B. Witten, also Psychology

  • Associated Faculty

    William Bialek, Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

    Elizabeth R. Gavis, Molecular Biology

    Alan Gelperin, also Molecular Biology

    Philip J. Holmes, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

    Coleen T. Murphy, Molecular Biology, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

    Joshua W. Shaevitz, Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

    Jordan A. Taylor, Psychology

    Alexander T. Todorov, Psychology

    Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Psychology

The Princeton Neuroscience Institute offers the neuroscience concentration for undergraduates with a strong interest in pursuing an in-depth study of the brain. Neuroscience is a broad interdisciplinary field requiring rigorous preparation in basic science. Students in this discipline are expected to understand the basic principles and approaches of modern neuroscience. The concentration provides an opportunity for the serious study of molecular, cellular, developmental, and systems neuroscience as it interfaces with cognitive and behavioral research. Since modern neuroscience is relying increasingly on quantitatively sophisticated methods and theory, students are also expected to gain competency in, physics, mathematics and computation. By offering a combination of courses and interdisciplinary research, students who complete the neuroscience concentration will be highly qualified to pursue graduate work at the best neuroscience, psychology or biology graduate programs and will also have completed, in large part, the background requirements to enter medical or veterinary school.

Information and Departmental Plan of Study


To enter the neuroscience concentration, students must have completed NEU 201 (formerly 258), NEU 202 (formerly 259B), and MAT 103.


  • Placement into or out of MAT 103 is decided by the Department of Mathematics.
  • Students must earn a "C" or better in each prerequisite course in order to enter the Neuroscience concentration.
  • Students do not need to take NEU 201 before NEU 202.


Program of Study

In addition to the prerequisites for entry into the program, concentrators must complete the following:

  1. NEU 350, Laboratory in Principles of Neuroscience
  2. NEU 314, Mathematical Tools for Neuroscience
  3. PHY 101 and PHY 102, Introductory Physics I, and Introductory Physics II. (Note: Placement into or out of these Physics courses is decided by the Department of Physics).
  4. Five NEU courses from three of the following four subject areas: Molecular/Cellular/Disease, Circuits & Systems, Neural Computation, and Cognitive & Social Neuroscience. The list of current NEU electives are found here, plus three cognate courses.

5. One 200-level or higher course in cell biology from the following list:

MOL/EEB 214, Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology

MOL/EEB/CBE 215, Quantitative Principles in Cell and Molecular Biology

MOL 342, Genetics

EEB/MOL 211, Life on Earth: Chaos and Clockwork of Biological Design

6. One 200-level or higher course in behavior from the following list:

PSY 207, Psychopathology

PSY 255, Cognitive Psychology

PSY 252, Social Psychology

PSY/CGS 254, Developmental Psychology

PSY/NEU 338, Animal Learning and Decision Making: Psychological*

PSY/NEU 345, Sensation and Perception*

EEB 311, Animal Behavior

EEB 323, Integrative Dynamics of Animal Behavior

*Note: Cross-listed NEU courses will not count twice in the elective total

7. One course in quantitative thinking from the following list:

SML 201, Introduction to Statistics and Machine Learning

COS 126, General Computer Science

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. In the fall semester of the junior year students participate in tutorials, read papers from the original literature, and prepare papers on assigned topics. In the spring term students carry out a second program of independent work with a faculty adviser with whom they will eventually do their senior thesis. In some instances this may include experimental work. A paper, in the form of a grant proposal, preparatory for the senior independent work, is due in early May.

Senior Independent Work. During the senior year each student, with the guidance of a faculty adviser, undertakes a major research effort. This research project can be a laboratory or independent study that will be written and presented as a senior thesis.

Senior Departmental Examination

Students are required to present their work to two thesis readers during an oral exam. The exam usually takes about one-half hour and students should be prepared to describe the background of the thesis, defend its contents, and propose future directions. The grade for the oral defense will be the average of the two from the faculty members. A grading rubric will be used by the examination committee.

Study Abroad

Students interested in study abroad should consult with the departmental representative as early as possible, preferably during their first year.

Entry through the Integrated Science Sequence (ISC)

The first year ISC sequence (ISC 231, 232, 233, 234) offers an alternative to the combination of MOL 214 or 215 (biology elective), COS 126 (quantitative thinking elective), and PHY 101-102 (required courses). ISC 236, Biochemistry and Neuroscience offers an alternative to NEU 201 (a prerequisite). ISC 235, Genetics and Genomics, offers and alternative to MOL 342, Genetics (and will thus count as a "biology" elective).