At the undergraduate level, this department offers a major in psychology and a track in 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 track requirements in effect at the time they formally declare to pursue the neuroscience track. A track 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. A degree in neuaro science is under development. Interested astudents should eith contact the director of the neuroscience major or check psych.colorado.edu/~nrsc for additional winformation
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Upper-division Neuroscience Track Requirements
CHEM 4611 Survey of Biochemistry
CHEM 4711 General Biochemistry 1
ECEN 3030 Electrical/Electronic Circuits Non-Major
ECEN 4120 Neural Network Design
ECEN 4811 Neural Signals and Functional Brain Imaging
ECEN 4821 Neural Systems and Physiological Control
ECEN 4831 Brains, Minds and Computers
EBIO 3240 Animal Behavior
IPHY 3410 Human Anatomy
IPHY 3430 Introduction to Human Physiology
IPHY 3470 Human Physiology 1
IPHY 4200 Physiological Genetics and Genomics
IPHY 4580 Sleep Physiology
IPHY 4720 Neurophysiology
MCDB 3140 Cell Biology Lab
MCDB 3280 Molecular Cell Physiology
MCDB 4201 From Bench to Bedside
MCDB 4426 Cell Signaling and Developmental Regulation
MCDB 4444 Cellular Basis of Disease
MCDB 4680 Mechanisms of Aging
NRSC 4011 Senior Thesis/Ethics
NRSC 4015 Affective Neuroscience
NRSC 4155/PSYC 4155 Cognitive Neuroscience/Neuropsychology
NRSC 4545 Neurobiology of Addiction
PSYC 4021 Psychology and Neuroscience of Exercise
PSYC 4062 Neurobiology of Stress
PSYC 4142 Brain Injury, Plasticity and Recovery: From Neuron to Brain
PSYC 4165 Psychology of Perception
PSYC 4175 Computational Cognitive Neuroscience
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, gene expression, and epigenetics). 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 and Cognitive Neuroscience PhD Program investigates how humans process information and includes laboratories focusing on perception, attention, learning and memory, reading and language processing, skill acquisition, expertise, categorization, executive control, and child development. Researchers use a variety of methods, including behavioral measures, neuroimaging techniques (e.g., fMRI, EEG), computational and mathematical modeling, patient studies, and genetic analysis. 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.
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.
For more information about the interdepartmental PhD in Neuroscience, see the Graduate School listing.
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 3.20 or better.
For more information, see www.colorado.edu/neuroscienceprogram.