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. The grade of P will not be accepted for Neuroscience & Behavior credit; the P must be uncovered by the Registrar's deadline for the course to be applicable toward the major requirements.

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.

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. Advanced placement (AP) psychology scores will not satisfy the PSYC UN1001 requirement.

How to apply for an exception.

1. Before you apply:

  1. If you are a transfer student and you are seeking credit toward the major or concentration for a psychology course taken elsewhere, you must first obtain transfer credit through CC or GS. If you have not already received approval from CC or GS to apply the course(s) in question toward your total number of credits needed to graduate, you will need to visit your Dean first to obtain the relevant forms and complete that process.
  2. If you are studying abroad, consult with your Program Advisor (DUS) prior to registering for classes at another institution. Provide your DUS with the syllabus for any psychology course you would like to have (conditionally) approved towards the major. Your Program Advisor (DUS) can then advise you regarding the eligibility of the course. If a syllabus is not available, provide your DUS with as much information about the course’s content and requirements as you can. You may need to contact your study-abroad institution and/or your prospective instructor to get this information.
  3. If you are a Columbia College student taking a course at another institution in the United States over the summer, you will need (conditional) advance approval. You should obtain a copy of Columbia College's Pre-Approval for a Course Taken at Another U.S. Institution form, available in the Center for Student Advising, 403 Lerner and discuss your plans with your advising dean.

2. Assemble all required materials for each course you want us to consider.

  • The Major Requirement Substitution Form with top half completed
  • A course syllabus that clearly indicates weekly topics and reading assignments as well as course requirements
    • If the syllabus is not sufficiently detailed you may be asked to bring in the textbook, quizzes and tests, and/or term papers.
  • Course description from school bulletin
  • Your transcript showing grade received
  • The appropriate Dean's form (typically, a transfer credit report for courses completed elsewhere)

3. Take assembled materials to 406 Schermerhorn where the Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant will check them for completeness. IMPORTANT: If you are a GS Student, you must submit all required paperwork in the same semester in which you declare a major; failure to meet this deadline may result in the loss of eligibility for transfer credit toward the major or concentration.

4. Answer any questions from your Program Advisor. The UCA will pass your submission on to your advisor, who will contact you if he or she has any questions or requires additional materials in order to review your request. You may also request to meet with your Program Advisor at this point if you have an unusual transfer situation or any other issues you’d like to discuss (e.g., if you have taken several courses you could potentially transfer, and need help deciding which of those courses would be most advantageous to apply toward your total of nine transfer credits).

5. If permission is granted. Once your Program Advisor has reviewed your request, the UCA will let you know whether or not permission has been granted. If it has, you will need to visit the Psychology Department Office to pick up a copy of the signed form.

  • The Undergraduate Curriculum Assistant in 406 Schermerhorn will keep one copy on file in the Psychology Department office. It will be used to document that you have an approved transfer credit shortly before you graduate, when the Department is required to certify that you have completed the requirements for the major or concentration.
  • The UCA will also give a copy of the form to the program advisor who signed it.
  • Be sure to pick up one copy of the signed permission form. You are responsible for keeping one copy of the form to produce in the (very unlikely) case that the original form cannot be found when it comes time to certify your major or concentration for your graduation.
  • The UCA will contact the registrar to inform them that your transfer credit has been approved for the major. Once this is done, you should be able to see the approved transfer credit on your Degree Audit Report (DAR) on SSOL.

You can find the Major Requirement Substitution Form here.