Academic Program in Neuroscience

Program Requirements

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Students who choose to study neuroscience become part of one of the fastest growing areas in science. They explore brain function using multiple approaches and address current ideas regarding thought, emotions, behavior, and neuropathology.

With training in the basic sciences of biology, chemistry, and psychology, the Oberlin student is poised for advanced study in neuroscience including behavioral genetics, animal behavior, pharmacology, developmental neurobiology, and more.

Students consult closely with their advisors to determine the most appropriate set of courses consistent with their interests and goals.

Oberlin neuroscience graduates often continue their education, attending some of the finest graduate schools in the country. A background in neuroscience can lead to a variety of challenging and exciting professional careers such as animal behavior, behavioral genetics, biopsychology, pharmacology, clinical psychology, biotechnology, medicine, or public health.

The core competencies that student neuroscience majors should acquire are:

  • basic knowledge of neuroscience
  • depth of knowledge in neuroscience
  • some basic and advanced laboratory techniques
  • scientific critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills
  • scientific writing and oral communication skills

The neuroscience department’s overall goal for nonmajors is to provide opportunities for interested non-science students to take neuroscience courses that increase their understanding of science and scientific reasoning.

As a group, our nonmajor courses attempt to teach you to make use of data and to think systematically and scientifically about the conclusions drawn from such data.

Additionally, we provide a broad foundation for your understanding of the brain and neuroscience. We expose students to controversial topics in neuroscience to improve their ability to think critically about the brain. We provide a broad foundation so that students are able to critically evaluate media claims about the mind and brain, and make better decisions regarding their mental and neurological health.

Through our nonmajors courses, we seek to demonstrate the importance of neuroscience in our understanding of human behavior and cognition and to inspire students to continue to learn about the brain.

What should students new to your department know about your course offerings?

Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field that easily integrates with other sciences—chemistry, biology, physics and psychology. The goal of the program is to help students understand to help students understand brain function, behavior, and consciousness. Some faculty focus their research and teaching in understanding how neurons (one of the main cell types in the nervous system) work at a cellular or molecular level, while other faculty focus on understanding the nervous system from a systems or cognitive perspective. We have a variety of upper-lever course offerings at both the cellular/molecular level and the systems/cognitive level. Students are able to enroll in these courses once they have taken NSCI201 The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience.

If a student is not planning on a major in your department, what advice would you like to convey to students who are interested in taking a course or two in the department?

In years that 100-level neuroscience courses are offered, I recommend that students take those courses. If not, students in their second year and above can take NSCI201 The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience. This course is not recommended for students in their first year.

What curricular advice would you provide first-year students considering the major about appropriate curricular entry strategies for the major?

Students interested in majoring in neuroscience should consult with a member of the department to discuss the best courses to take. That said, they should take BIO 100 and CHEM 101/102 in their first year and take NSCI 201/NSCI 211 in their second year.

Is there any placement testing for courses in the major? If so, how and when can students take the placement test?

There are none.

Are there any Advanced Placement tests that earn credit within the major?

There are none.

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