Understanding how the brain performs its functions and gives rise to cognition, learning, and behavior is one of the last frontiers of science. We are in an era of intense interest in neuroscience, the field of scientific inquiry focused on explaining how the brain works.

Indeed, neuroscience is now a major national and international priority. The establishment of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI) at the University of Iowa highlights this momentum and demonstrates our commitment to becoming a renowned hub for neuroscience research and education. 

An undergraduate degree in neuroscience opens doors to exciting opportunities across the health sciences, medicine, graduate school, and the biotechnology industry.

Why Iowa?

Neuroscience is one of the most exciting areas of science, with new advances being made every day, and Iowa provides both top-notch education and cutting-edge research in the field. The program is jointly administered by the Department of Biology and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, in cooperation with the Iowa Neuroscience Institute. The curriculum provides comprehensive exposure to the entire realm of neuroscience, from molecules to behavior and cognition. 

The neuroscience major partners with the INI to give students the chance to conduct research in prestigious laboratories across campus. Students are able to work in neuroscience laboratories affiliated with the Departments of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Biology as well as INI-affiliated neuroscience laboratories in the UI Carver College of Medicine. As a result, students can engage in research ranging from development of the brain to the neurobiology of drug addiction to autism, and learn different neuroscience techniques directly from faculty. 

Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI)

Founded in 2017, the INI is committed to comprehensive and cross-disciplinary neuroscience research and education and was instrumental in the creation of the neuroscience major. The INI encompasses faculty and laboratories across the entire university, providing opportunities for neuroscience majors to engage in research across a variety of topics. 

Undergraduates who want to continue working in a laboratory over the summer can apply to the INI's competitive summer fellowship program.

The INI also invites top neuroscientists from across the country and around the world to present seminars and workshops that anyone within the campus neuroscience community can attend. 

Admission Requirements

Neuroscience majors must meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students who major in neuroscience may not earn a second major in biology or psychology, but may earn a minor in either area. 


  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Neuroscience provides a strong background in scientific thinking, study design, and analysis. Students earning a degree in neuroscience will be well prepared to pursue graduate work in neuroscience or related life sciences, to attend medical school, or to enter other health-related programs such as a physician assistant program, public health, or nursing.

Graduates also will be prepared to directly enter the workforce in biotechnology industries, academic life science laboratories, or in science education, and science writing.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100  study abroad  programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Neuroscience student experience: Inti

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is a vibrant community of explorers and discoverers. Students and faculty come together in the heart of downtown Iowa City to learn, teach, and conduct trailblazing research. We’re big enough to be a national leader in our discipline—we receive more than $11 million annually in NIH funding—yet small enough to offer a collaborative, supportive, and friendly environment. Our students learn about the field in the classroom and laboratory, and out in the community, developing skills that help them stand out among their peers.

Into talks more about what it's like to be a student and work in the Developmental Psychopathology Lab at Iowa.

Neuroscience student experience: Rey

The University of Iowa helped establish psychology as a core academic discipline—and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is still leading the field. Our innovative undergraduate teaching has made us the most popular major on campus. Our graduate programs provide extraordinary scholarly research opportunities. And our cutting-edge research advances essential scientific knowledge about the brain and human behavior.

Rey talks more about what it's like to study Neuroscience at the University of Iowa.


Course work covers the breadth of neuroscience, from molecular neuroscience to cognitive neuroscience. Students take chemistry and physics in addition to courses offered by the Departments of Biology and Psychological and Brain Sciences that are tailored to the neuroscience major. These courses include:

  • Introduction to Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Foundations of Biology
  • Research Methods and Data Analysis I and II
  • Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Animal Physiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Developmental Neurobiology

In addition, students take a laboratory-based neuroscience course and three neuroscience electives.

All students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) must complete the requirements of the GE CLAS Core.  

See Neuroscience in the UI General Catalog to learn more about required course work for the major and graduating with honors.