At the undergraduate level, this department offers a major in either psychology or neuroscience. Psychology is a broad discipline that seeks to understand human cognition, emotion, and behavior. It is also an applied field that is concerned with testing perception, psychopathology, inheritance of complex behavioral traits, mental health, memory, and social factors that influence behavior. Neuroscience is the study of the mechanisms of nervous system—the brain, the spinal cord, and networks of sensory nerve cells, or neurons. Neuroscientists work to describe how neural circuits transmit signals and process different types of information. The principles of neuroscience are derived from the application of methods from many scientific disciplines, including molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, physiology, structure, and computational modeling. Note that no terminal master’s degree is offered except for the concurrent BA/MA program in cognitive psychology.
Students contemplating postgraduate education, either in professional or in graduate school, are encouraged to participate in the departmental honors program, which provides special opportunities for individualized attention.
CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience has been ranked by the National Academy of Sciences as one of the best in the country with respect to the quality of the faculty and their scholarly productivity. Moreover, the department offers undergraduates a wide range of opportunities for involvement in research.
Course codes for this program are PSYC and NRSC.
Students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and one of the two programs listed below. Additional explanatory notes are available in the department advising office in Muenzinger D243.
Students are subject to the major requirements in effect at the time they formally declare the major. A major in neuroscience requires a minimum of 30 hours in neuroscience course work with grades of C- or better. At least 18 of these hours must be in upper-division course work. The department recommends completing NRSC 2100 by the end of the sophomore year.
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Upper-division Neuroscience Major Requirements
Ancillary Foundation Courses
Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in psychology-neuroscience, students should meet the following requirements:
In order to graduate with a degree in psychology, the department requires that students fulfill the following course requirements with a grade of C- or better. Additional explanatory notes are available in the department advising office, Muenzinger D243.
The department recommends taking PSYC 1001, 2012, 2145, and 2606 by the end of the sophomore year, and 3101 by the end of the junior year.
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain adequate progress in psychology, students should meet the following requirements:
It is policy to enforce the course prerequisites listed in the course descriptions. If you have not either taken and passed (C- or better) the prerequisites for a course, or obtained permission from the instructor or a departmental advisor to take the course based on equivalent preparatory course work or experience here or elsewhere, you may be administratively dropped from the course.
A concurrent BA/MA in psychology, with specialization in cognitive psychology, is offered. Both the BA and MA degree must be completed within a five-year period. In recent years, both basic and applied research in cognitive psychology have come to rely increasingly on related findings, theories, and methods in other cognitive science disciplines, including philosophy, computer science, and linguistics.
The purpose of this degree program is to provide training that prepares students either for continuing doctoral study in cognitive psychology or for technical careers involving cognitive psychology in government and industry. Students complete the requirements for an undergraduate major in psychology, an interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate in cognitive science, and a master’s degree in the cognitive psychology graduate training program. Because of the demanding nature of this program, only highly qualified students are admitted.
Students are admitted for graduate studies leading to the PhD in one of five fields: behavioral genetics, behavioral neuroscience (including learning and motivation), clinical, cognitive, and social psychology. Note that no terminal master’s degree program is offered. The behavioral genetics program focuses on the study of genetic contributions to individual differences in behavior. The fundamental tenet of the behavioral neuroscience program is that a complete understanding of behavior entails unraveling mechanisms and principles at any and all levels of organization (i.e., behavior, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry). The major training goals of the clinical psychology program follow the Boulder model in that the preparation of scientist-practitioner is stressed. The clinical psychology program is accredited by the American Psychological Association. The cognitive psychology program includes course work and research in the following areas of cognition: problem solving, thinking, human learning and memory, judgment and decision making, language, artificial intelligence, reading, attention and performance, perception, and information processing. The program in social psychology trains students to conduct research, either applied or basic, in the fields of social cognition, self-concept development, close relationships, and health. Additional courses in the department offer graduate training in the knowledge, theory, and research methodology relating to cultural influences on behavior.
All students are admitted with the expectation that they will work toward the PhD degree. Many students receive a master of arts degree in the course of working toward the PhD. Students who receive the PhD degree must demonstrate that they are proficient in some broad subject of learning and that they can critically evaluate work in this field; furthermore, they must show the ability to work independently in their chosen field and must make an original contribution of significance to the advancement of knowledge.
In the first year of graduate study, all psychology graduate students enroll in a two-semester graduate statistical sequence. There is a first-year research requirement that starts the student on an active program of research. The student also must enroll in a sequence of courses designed to give exposure to various research topics and methods.
Before admission to candidacy for the PhD degree, the student must pass a comprehensive examination in the field of concentration and related fields. This examination tests the student mastery of a broad field of knowledge, not merely the formal course work completed.
A variety of advanced research seminars are taught on a regular basis. Students are required to be enrolled in at least one substantive course in the department each semester until the comprehensive examinations have been successfully completed. Upon completing the comprehensives, students engage in the dissertation research, culminating in a public oral defense.
The neurosciences certificate program encourages undergraduate students interested in how the brain controls behavior to take courses in the basic sciences while providing the means to specialize in neuroscience. Since this subdiscipline of the biological sciences spans a number of departments at the university (e.g., integrative physiology, psychology, and MCD biology), students are encouraged to obtain greater academic breadth through interdepartmental course selection.
To obtain the certificate, a student must satisfy the requirements of a major and the certificate program, and maintain a grade point average of 3.200 or better.
For more information, see www.colorado.edu/neuroscienceprogram.