Break new ground

We are in an era of intense interest in neuroscience, the field of scientific inquiry focused on elucidating how the brain gives rise to cognition, learning, and behavior.

The Neuroscience degree is an interdisciplinary major administered by the Department of Biology and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, in cooperation with the Iowa Neuroscience Institute.

Our curriculum ensures that you will have broad exposure to the study of neuroscience‚ÄĒfrom molecules and cells to behavior and cognition. Additionally, students will be required to have sufficient grounding in cognates, such as chemistry and physics, to provide them with a deeper understanding of the methods and discoveries of neuroscience.

As a Neuroscience major who wishes to continue studies in graduate (Ph.D.) or medical (M.D.) school, you will be rigorously prepared to do so through our integrated curriculum. Neuroscience majors will have the opportunity to pursue Honors research in the major, working in the laboratories of top neuroscientists across campus, including members of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute.

Requirements & Planning

Students who major in neuroscience may not earn a major in biology or psychology, but may earn a minor in biology or psychology as long as no more than 3 s.h. are double counted. A maximum of 3 s.h. of transfer credit may be applied toward CLAS minors.

Honors in Neuroscience Major

Students majoring in neuroscience have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. Departmental honor students must maintain a major GPA and a UI GPA of at least 3.33. In order to earn honors in the neuroscience major, students must complete the following:

  • A minimum of 6 s.h. over two or more semesters of an independent laboratory research project undertaken in a neuroscience laboratory in either Biology or Psychological and Brain Sciences or in the laboratory of an Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI) faculty member chosen from a list of approved mentors. Students enroll in BIOL:4995/PSY:4995 - Honors Research in Neuroscience in both semesters.
  • A brief initial research proposal summarizing the background and goals of the planned honors investigations research, submitted to the honors coordinator, typically at the end of the semester immediately prior to the final semester of honors research. This should be 2-3 pages, double-spaced.
  • An acceptable honors thesis describing the research submitted to the honors coordinator near the end of the final semester of enrollment in BIOL:4995/PSY:4995 - Honors Research in Neuroscience. The final thesis should be no longer than 10 pages, double-spaced, excluding any figures or references. This must be turned in by the last Friday of regular classes during that semester.
  • An oral presentation of the honors research findings during the student's final semester.

Honors students also are encouraged to participate in the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) and to apply for research scholarships, including the Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI) Summer Scholars Fellowships.

Neuroscience majors interested in graduating with honors in the major should alert their academic advisor as early as possible, preferably during their sophomore or junior year. In case there are questions about the steps towards honors in the major that are not answered here, students should email the director of the major, Dr. Jan Wessel, at

Neuroscience Research

Separate from Honors in the Major, we encourage students to become involved in neuroscience research occurring on campus at the University of Iowa. To do so, students can enroll in BIOL:3999/PSY:3999 Independent Research in Neuroscience. Students can join neuroscience laboratories in either Biology or Psychological and Brain Sciences or in the laboratory of an Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI) faculty member chosen from a list of approved mentors. The current list can be found at MyUI and selecting the course BIOL:3999/PSY:3999.