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The principal distinctions between the BA and BS programs are enrollment in faculty-supervised research and additional elective neuroscience courses.

Students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience by completing all the requirements for the BA, plus an additional 3 elective courses that include 1-3 quarters of faculty-supervised neuroscience research as an elective course. These two additional requirements are the two principal distinctions between the BA and BS programs. The research elective must result in a written thesis and a poster presentation at the end of the academic year in which it is taken. 

Students are encouraged to seek out laboratory experiences in their first and second years but are only able to enroll in the research elective thesis course in the third and fourth. For more information on finding a research mentor, click here.

A thesis generally falls into one of four categories:

  1. An experiment-based thesis in which the student collects, analyzes, and evaluates data to test a clearly stated hypothesis;
  2. An analytics-based thesis in which the student analyzes and evaluates data that the lab has previously acquired in order to test a clearly stated hypothesis;
  3. A theory-based thesis in which the student employs a model or simulation in order to test a clearly stated hypothesis or develop a novel hypothesis;
  4. A literature-based thesis in which the student surveys primary scientific literature on a neuroscience topic in order to develop and describe a novel perspective/hypothesis rather than write a simple summary of that topic.

To successfully enroll in the BS thesis course, NSCI 29100, students must obtain a Reading and Research form and have their faculty mentor sign off on the proposed thesis work. This form is submitted to the Neuroscience Major's administrative office for approval of the thesis proposal. Signed and approved forms must be submitted to the registrar by the 3rd week of the quarter that the student wishes to enroll in the course.

By the end of the academic year that a student has enrolled in NSCI 29X00, that student will be required to:


Thesis that falls into categories 1-3: The thesis will be written in the format of the Journal of Neuroscience article (Abstract ≤250 words, Introduction ≤650 words, Discussion ≤1500 words, double-spaced with 1-inch margins and 11-point font).

For a thesis that falls into category 4 (literature-based thesis): The thesis will have a maximum of 20 pages, double-spaced with 1-inch margins and 11-point font. The reference list should include at least 30 scientific journal articles. The format should be written in the style of a Neuron review article.

present A POSTER

Posters are evaluated by Neuroscience faculty; each student must present a 56”x40” poster of their research in a symposium in the quarter of their graduating year in which they received elective credit.

Be prepared to present your research, using your poster as a visualization, and answer questions from your reviewers, faculty, and other students.
Please see the following links for helpful poster presentation guidelines:

Poster Guidelines
Poster Template


These meetings provide guidance and instruction on writing a thesis and developing a scientific poster. The thesis must be submitted to for review and final grading before Friday of the 5th week of the student's graduating quarter. Faculty members outside of the student's chosen lab will evaluate the thesis and poster.

Neuroscience is currently one of the most captivating scientific disciplines. Due to its inherent complexity, delving into the mysteries of the brain represents a rare frontier in scientific endeavor where the potential for discovering entirely novel and unexpected findings still exists.

Jason MacLean, Ph.D
Director of Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience