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 Study at 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. Research opportunities exist within both departments that administer the major as well as a variety of departments elsewhere on campus, including Psychiatry, Neurology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, and Communications Sciences and Disorders. As a result, students can engage in research ranging from development of the brain to the neurobiology of drug addiction to autism. 

Students majoring in neuroscience have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major, and membership in the UI Honors Program is not required. Students interested in graduating with honors in the major should contact the honors coordinator as early as possible.  

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. 

The INI offers a competitive summer fellowship program to which undergraduates who want to continue working in a laboratory over the summer can apply.

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. 

Course Work

Neuroscience majors earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Course work covers the breadth of neuroscience, from molecular neuroscience to cognitive neuroscience. The major prepares students to work in many different areas, including health care, medicine, industry/biotechnology, research, and education, and provides a strong foundation for a variety of graduate programs.

Neuroscience also provides a strong background in scientific thinking, study design, and analysis, and students are prepared for any career within that realm. 

Students in the major take a common set of courses in chemistry and physics in addition to a set of 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 CLAS Core General Education Program.  

See Neuroscience in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major, course requirements, and graduating with honors. 

Teaching Licensure

Students interested in teaching should review the requirements for admission to the College of Education's Teacher Education Program and work closely with an academic adviser. 

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. 

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having more than 600 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Neuroscience students are encouraged to participate in cutting-edge research and learn different neuroscience techniques directly from faculty. 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 have a unique opportunity to choose among a large variety of research options. 

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

Completion of a new six-story, 66,470-square-foot Psychological and Brain Sciences Building is tentatively scheduled for early 2020. The building will feature light-filled open spaces, state-of-the-art classrooms, cutting-edge laboratories, and learning commons space for students.

The adjacent Department of Biology is housed in two large buildings connected by a skybridge and encompasses renovated laboratories, TILE (Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage) and lecture classrooms, and core facilities. 

The Neurobiology Lab course space has been completely renovated as a combined wet lab/TILE classroom that will provide majors with an unsurpassed experiential learning environment.

The Carver Center for Genomics offers in-house DNA sequencing and a variety of instrumentation, while the Carver Center for Imaging houses two multiphoton/confocal microscopes utilized for student research.  

The INI offers further research cores, a wide variety of events, seminars, and grant programs, as well as access to dozens of neuroscience faculty who can mentor students conducting Honors research. 


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Neuroscience provides an excellent background and training for many disciplines. This major prepares students for careers in any of the health-related professions, including medicine, dentistry, and physical therapy, for graduate study, and for work in the biomedical industry. 


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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs


Neuroscience (BS)
Teaching Licensure
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan