Because the nervous system is the organ for behavior, neuroscience cuts across traditional fields in the biological and behavioral sciences. Owing to this breadth, we have designed 3 options (2 major tracks, and one minor track) for students who wish to focus on or emphasize neuroscience in their course of study at LUC. Completing any of these options will prepare students well for a variety of careers, including, but not limited to medicine and life sciences research, particularly in neuroscience-related fields. All 3 options require two semesters of courses in biology, chemistry, and physics.
Lecture course objectives
Both of the majors and the minor require 3 courses in neuroscience fundamentals, Introduction to Neuroscience (NEUR 101), Neurobiology (BIOL 362; which stresses cellular and electrophysiological mechanisms of neural function), and Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience (PSYC 382/BIOL 284; which stresses the neural substrates underlying mental processing and behavior). After completing this sequence, majors can design their own course of study within cognitive/behavioral or molecular/cellular neuroscience. There is some overlap in the list of lecture courses from which students may choose to complete their elective requirements, but there is also great diversity in the topics that are available in each major track. A list of the courses required for each major is provided under the Academics tab at the top of this page. The specific objectives and outcomes of each upper level elective can be viewed by clicking on the various course titles. For neuroscience minors, there are fewer electives required, providing deep exposure to topics of their choosing, but allowing them to focus on their major.
Lab course objectives
Aside from freshman labs in chemistry and biology, and organic chemistry lab for molecular/cellular neuroscience majors, majors and minors choose their lab experiences. Because the nervous system is cellular, computational, and a control center, the range of techniques that are useful is extremely broad, from atomic/molecular to behavioral, and the student can decide which techniques will be most helpful in answering the questions they want to address. This is daunting for students who are just learning about the field, but the good news is that there are no mistakes in this decision making process. Even if you eventually conclude that you should have taken the Psychobiology lab instead of the Biochemistry lab, you will have gained a lot from the Biochemistry lab and will have an opportunity to learn more about psychobiology down the road. Students who are interested in conducting independent neuroscience research have several neuroscience labs from which to choose, and may also seek permission to carry out a neuroscience-relevant project in a lab that is not focused on neuroscience. Independent research is the best preparation for doctoral programs, and is also regarded highly by medical, dental and other life science professional schools. For this reason, getting an independent position in a lab is competitive and cannot be guaranteed (here or at any university).
There are 3 seminar style courses available to neuroscience undergraduates. In these courses, students tackle the primary literature and react to seminars given by neuroscientists on their research. All neuroscience undergraduates are invited to take the 1 credit hour Neuroscience seminar (NEUR 300) course, providing basic exposure to the primary literature and a wide range of research talks. Both major tracks culminate with a required capstone seminar class, which immerses the students in the primary literature and encourages development of critical thinking and presentation skills.
Our neuroscience majors and minor are designed to provide both breadth and depth to the neuroscience knowledge base of our students, and afford ample opportunities for developing creative and critical thinking skills needed to advance neuroscience (or any other life science field).