Program Offerings

Offering type

The Princeton Neuroscience Institute offers the neuroscience major 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 major 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 major 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. Other possible career paths for those with a neuroscience degree can be found on our website. 

Goals for Student Learning

The neuroscience major provides foundational and advanced undergraduate courses on the scientific study of the brain and biology of behavior as well as practical training in theoretical, computational and/or laboratory approaches to original neuroscience research. Students learn about different levels of analysis, from the molecular mechanisms of intercellular signaling to the formation and function of neural circuits to the generation of thought and movements via large-scale neural systems. Students also learn about cutting-edge methods in neuroscience, including laboratory techniques, computational modeling and statistics. Through their independent work, students work with faculty advisers and their teams to gain understanding of how to approach current neuroscientific problems. This work can include the generation of new data via experiments, the novel analysis of existing data sets or the formulation of new perspectives and hypotheses via the thoughtful consideration of the existing literature.


To enter the neuroscience major, students must have completed NEU 201 Fundamentals of Neuroscience, NEU 202 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience, and MAT 103 Calculus I.


  • Placement into or out of MAT 103 is decided by the Department of Mathematics.
  • Students must receive a passing grade in each prerequisite course in order to enter the neuroscience major.
  • Students do not need to take NEU 201 before NEU 202.

Program of Study

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

  1. NEU 350 Laboratory in Principles of Neuroscience
  2. NEU 314 Mathematical Tools for Neuroscience
  3. PHY 101 Introductory Physics I or the equivalent (Note: Placement into or out of the physics course is decided by the Department of Physics.)
  4. Five NEU courses from three of the following four subject areas: Molecular/Cellular/Disease, Circuits and Systems, Neural Computation, and Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. The list of current NEU electives is found on our website, 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 313 Behavioral Ecology
    • EEB 323 Integrative Dynamics of Animal Behavior
  7. One course in statistics. SML 201 is recommended.

* Cross-listed NEU courses will not count twice in the elective total. Courses can only be used one time and in one elective category.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work. In the fall semester of junior year, students are required to participate in tutorials, read papers from the original literature and prepare papers on assigned topics. In the spring term, students write a research proposal with the guidance of a faculty adviser with whom they will eventually do their senior thesis.

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 30 minutes 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. 

Study Abroad

Students interested in study abroad should consult with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) as early as possible to discuss how best to pursue this possibility and to obtain the necessary course approval.

Additional Information

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 an alternative to MOL 342, Genetics (and will thus count as a "biology" elective).

Offering type

The minor in neuroscience at Princeton is designed for Princeton University undergraduate students with a strong interest in the brain but whose primary studies are in a different subject area. The certificate in neuroscience has been serving this function since 2006, but since neuroscience now has a major, transitioning the certificate to a minor is appropriate. The PNI faculty believe that the current requirements of the NEU certificate are sufficient for a minor and have endorsed changing the name without modifications to the requirements. The requirements for the NEU minor are all related to coursework. There is no independent work requirement for the neuroscience certificate.

To receive the NEU minor, students must complete six courses. The following introductory courses are required for the NEU minor:

  • NEU 200 Functional Neuroanatomy or NEU 201 Fundamentals of Neuroscience
  • NEU 202 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience

Students must also complete four electives. These electives must come from three out of four subject areas. These areas are:

  • Molecular/Cellular/Disease
  • Circuits and Systems
  • Neural Computation
  • Social and Cognitive Neuroscience

NEU electives can only be used to satisfy requirements in one of these categories. A maximum of two NEU electives can be used to satisfy requirements for the student’s departmental major.

Goals for Student Learning

The neuroscience minor provides a basic foundation in the scientific study of the brain and biology of behavior through introductory and advanced undergraduate courses. Students learn about different levels of analysis, from the molecular mechanisms of intercellular signaling to the formation and function of neural circuits to the generation of thought and movements via large-scale neural systems. As neuroscience is highly interdisciplinary, this knowledge can be used to generate new ideas and new perspectives in the student’s major.

Neuroscience minor learning goals include the following:

  • Students gain knowledge of the fundamental principles of neuroscience and the nature of the discipline’s challenges and possible solutions.
  • Students develop skills in critical thinking and scientific problem-solving.
  • Students develop relationships with classmates across disciplines.


Students can enroll in the minor the second semester of sophomore year.

To enroll in the minor, students must complete as prerequisites either NEU 200 Functional Neuroanatomy or NEU 201 Fundamentals of Neuroscience, along with NEU 202 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience.

Although either will satisfy a prerequisite for the neuroscience minor, only NEU 201 will count as a prerequisite for the major in neuroscience. Students who take NEU 200 and later decide to major in neuroscience will still be required to take NEU 201 (and NEU 200 will count as a NEU elective). Therefore, students who are undecided about whether to pursue a neuroscience major versus a minor are strongly encouraged to take NEU 201.

Program of Study

In addition to the two prerequisites, all students are expected to take at least four neuroscience electives from three out of four subject areas. These areas include: (1) molecular/cellular/disease; (2) neural computation; (3) systems and circuits; and (4) social and cognitive neuroscience. Students should consult the NEU electives list for a complete list of possibilities.

Cross-listed NEU courses will not count twice in the elective total. Courses can only be used one time and in one elective category. A maximum of two courses can be used for the minor and to serve requirements for the student’s major.


  • Director

    • Mala Murthy
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies

    • Asif A. Ghazanfar
  • Director of Graduate Studies

    • Jonathan W. Pillow
  • Professor

    • Carlos D. Brody
    • Jonathan D. Cohen
    • Nathaniel D. Daw
    • Asif A. Ghazanfar
    • Elizabeth Gould
    • Michael S. Graziano
    • Uri Hasson
    • Sabine Kastner
    • Mala Murthy
    • Yael Niv
    • Kenneth A. Norman
    • Jonathan W. Pillow
    • H. Sebastian Seung
    • David W. Tank
    • Samuel S. Wang
    • Ilana B. Witten
  • Associate Professor

    • Michael J. Berry
    • Lisa M. Boulanger
    • Timothy J. Buschman
    • Lindy McBride
  • Assistant Professor

    • Bradley H. Dickerson
    • Tatiana Engel
    • Annegret L. Falkner
    • Jesse Gomez
    • Fenna Krienen
    • Andrew M. Leifer
    • Catherine Jensen Peña
  • Associated Faculty

    • William Bialek, Physics
    • Tian-Ming Fu, Electrical & Comp Engineering
    • Elizabeth H. Margulis, Music
    • Erik C. Nook, Psychology
    • Joshua W. Shaevitz, Physics
    • Jordan A. Taylor, Psychology
  • Lecturer

    • Anthony E. Ambrosini
    • Lindsay Collins

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


NEU 101 - Neuroscience and Everyday Life (also MOL 110/STC 102) Not offered this year SEL

Acquaints non-science majors with classical and modern neuroscience. Lectures will give an overview at levels ranging from molecular signaling to cognitive science with a focus on the neuroscience of everyday life, from the general (love, memory, and personality) to the particular (jet lag, autism, and weight loss). The laboratory will offer hands-on experience in recording signals from single neurons, examining neural structures, and analysis of whole-brain functional brain imaging data. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. S. Wang, A. Gelperin

NEU 201 - Fundamentals of Neuroscience (also PSY 258) Fall SEN

This is a survey course in neurobiology which takes a mechanistic and reductionist perspective to cover important topics in the field, including the physiological basis of neural excitability, sensory and motor processing, learning and memory, and neuropsychiatric diseases. L. Boulanger

NEU 202 - Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience (also PSY 259) Spring EC

Cognitive neuroscience is a young and exciting field with many questions yet to be answered. This course surveys current knowledge about the neural basis of perception, cognition and action and will comprehensively cover topics such as high-level vision, attention, memory, language, decision making, as well as their typical and atypical development. Precepts will discuss the assigned research articles, pertaining to topics covered in class with an emphasis on developing critical reading skills of scientific literature. Two 90-minute lectures, one precept J. Gomez

NEU 306 - Memory and Cognition (also PSY 306) Spring EC

NEU 330 - Computational Modeling of Psychological Function (also PSY 330) Not offered this year SEL

A fundamental goal of cognitive neuroscience is to understand how psychological functions such as attention, memory, language, and decision making arise from computations performed by assemblies of neurons in the brain. This course will provide an introduction to the use of connectionist models (also known as neural network or parallel distributed processing models) as a tool for exploring how psychological functions are implemented in the brain, and how they go awry in patients with brain damage. Prerequisite: instructor's permission. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. K. Norman

NEU 336 - The Diversity of Brains (also EEB 336/PSY 336) Not offered this year EC

NEU 408 - Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (also MOL 408/PSY 404) Not offered this year SEN

A survey of fundamental principles in neurobiology at the biophysical, cellular, and system levels. Lectures will address the basis of the action potential, synaptic transmission and plasticity, local circuit computation, sensory physiology, and motor control. Prerequisites: MOL 214 or MOL 215, PSY 258, PHY 103-104, and MAT 103-104, or permission of instructor. Two 90-minute lectures, one preceptorial. T. Buschman, I. Witten

NEU 410 - Depression: From Neuron to Clinic (also PSY 410) Not offered this year EC

NEU 437 - Systems Neuroscience: Computing with Populations of Neurons (also MOL 437/PSY 437) Not offered this year SEL

Introduction to the biophysics of nerve cells and synapses, and the mathematics of neural networks. How can networks of neurons compute? How do we model and analyze data from neuroscientific experiments? Data from experiments running at Princeton will be used as examples (e.g., blowfly visual system, hippocampal slice, rodent prefrontal cortex). Each topic will have a lecture and a computer laboratory component. Prerequisite: MOL 410, or elementary knowledge of linear algebra, differential equations, probability, and basic programming ability, or permission of the instructor. Two 90 minute lectures, one laboratory. C. Brody

NEU 447 - Neuroimmunology: Immune Molecules in Normal Brain Function and Neuropathology (also GHP 447/MOL 447) Not offered this year SEN

In this course, we will explore the diverse and complex interactions between the brain and the immune system from the perspective of current, cutting-edge research papers. In particular, we will focus on the molecular mechanisms of these interactions and their role in brain development and function as well as their potential contributions to specific neurological disorders, including autism. In the process, students will learn to read, critically evaluate, and explain in presentations the content of articles from the primary literature. Prerequisites: MOL 214/215. L. Boulanger