Neuroscience & Behavior Major

Planning your Program

Majors should begin planning a program of study as early as possible. Please see the Advisors page for more information on the resources and advice available to you in your program planning. As soon as possible in your undergraduate career, but certainly prior to the start of your final semester, you must submit a Major Requirement Checklist, which shows all major courses you have taken and plan to take. If you have any questions, or would like to set up an appointment to meet with an advisor please email

The Neuroscience & Behavior major is co-sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the Department of Biological Sciences. In addition to one year of general chemistry (or the high school equivalent), ten courses are required to complete the Neuroscience & Behavior major: five from the Department of Biological Sciences and five from the Department of Psychology. 

The requirements are detailed below, but for a definitive list of Biology requirements, please contact the Department of Biological Sciences


I. Required Biology Courses

One year of college chemistry, or a strong high school chemistry background. Lecture and recitation. Recommended as the introductory biology course for biology and related majors, and for premedical students. Fundamental principles of biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics.

Must register for a recitation section. 

One year of biology and a course in physics is highly recommended. Lecture and recitation. This is an advanced course intended for majors providing an in depth survey of the cellular and molecular aspects of nerve cell function. Topics include: the cell biology and biochemistry of neurons, ionic and molecular basis of electrical signals, synaptic transmission and its modulation, function of sensory receptors. Although not required, it is intended to be followed by Neurobiology II (see below). The recitation meets once per week in smaller groups and emphasizes readings from the primary literature. 

Prerequisites: BIOL UN3004, one year of biology, or the instructor's permission.

This course is the "capstone" course for the Neurobiology and Behavior undergraduate major at Columbia University and will be taught by the faculty of the Kavli Institute of Brain Science.It is designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. Knowledge of Cellular Neuroscience (how an action potential is generated and how a synapse works) will be assumed. It is strongly recommended that students take BIOL UN3004 Neurobiology I: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, or a similar course, before enrolling in BIOL UN3005.

This course must be approved by the Biology Department advisor to the Neuroscience & Behavior major.

Courses that could potentially be used to fulfill this requirement include: 

Every effort is made to keep this list up to date, but if you have questions about coursework in Biology, please contact the Department of Biological Sciences

Note: SCNC & HPSC courses do not count towards the Major even if listed under Biology courses on the Department of Biological Sciences website.


II. Required Psychology Courses



*Beginning in Fall 2018, PSYC UN1010 Mind, Brain, & Behavior will no longer be offered. Students who have already taken PSYC UN1010 may use it to fulfill the second Psychology requirement, but, going forward, Neuroscience & Behavior majors must take either PSYC UN2430 Cognitive Neuroscience of PSYC UN2450 Behavioral Neuroscience to fulfill that requirement.

*Students who have already taken UN1010 Mind, Brain, & Behavior should not take UN2430 as the content of the courses overlap significantly.

This course must be chosen from a list approved by the Psychology Department Advisor to the program:  


Not all 2000-level courses in the Psychology department count towards this requirement. Before registering, consult this list and your Psychology Department Advisor. 

This course must be chosen from a list approved by the Psychology Department Advisor to the program:  




No course may be counted twice in fulfillment of the above Biology or Psychology requirements.

Students who have already taken UN1010 Mind, Brain, & Behavior should not take UN2430 as the content of the courses overlap significantly.

A grade of C-, or higher, must be earned and revealed on your transcript for any Columbia or Barnard course — including the first — that is used to satisfy the major requirements.

Courses taken on a Pass/D/Fail basis may not be used to satisfy the major or concentration requirements unless the grade of P is uncovered by the Registrar's deadline. Students may petition to have their P/D/F grades uncovered after the registrar's deadline for the following three courses only:  PSYC UN1001 Science of Psychology, PSYC UN1010 Mind, Brain, & Behavior (no longer offered), and PSYC UN1610 Introductory Statistics for Behavioral Scientists. Courses taken only on a Pass/Fail basis may not be used to satisfy the major or concentration requirements under any circumstances.

Students should consult an Advisor in the Psychology department before registering for psychology courses offered outside the department. With the Advisor’s approval, a maximum of one psychology course from another institution, including Barnard, may be applied toward the psychology portion of the Neuroscience & Behavior major. Students who wish to obtain credit for a course taken at Barnard or at another institution should complete the Major Requirement Substitution Form. To be approved for the major, the course should be substantially similar to one offered by this department and approved for this major, and the grade received must be a C- or better if from Barnard, or B- or better if from another institution. 

Beginning in Fall 2019, the Psychology Department will accept a score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam, or a score of 7 on the IB Psychology exam, to meet the Science of Psychology requirement. The AP/IB Psychology exam does not count as a course or toward a student’s points total for their program; students placing out of the Science of Psychology requirement in this way will need to take an additional course to fulfill the required number of courses or points for their program.

The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) statistics scores do not satisfy the statistics requirement.  Students who have completed AP statistics may opt to take a more advanced statistics course to fulfill this requirement with the approval of one of the directors of undergraduate studies.

How to apply for an exception:

For information about how to apply for a course exception, visit our transfer credit page.

Any exceptions must be approved in advance by a Biology Advisor, and you must receive an email notification of that approval. A maximum of one biology course from another institution (including Barnard) may be credited toward the major. Barnard College courses may not be substituted for the required Columbia courses without advance permission from the Advisor.