Getting Started

While research is not required for all majors, the undergraduate Neuroscience Program encourages its majors to earn independent study credit within the major (NRSC 3999 and 4999) during their Junior and/or Senior years.  Neuroscience majors have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of professors who study neuroscience, including those in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Dentistry.  Engaging in research provides undergraduates the chance to not only learn new information, but to appreciate and experience the excitement of discovering new information. 


Students interested in finding a laboratory in which to pursue research should first think about the area(s) of neuroscience most interesting to them.  Students may then review a list of topics under current investigation by members of the Neuroscience Graduate Group at Penn online at  Under each heading, students will find a list of researchers and links to more detailed descriptions of their work.  Students are encouraged to contact professors to inquire about research opportunities in their lab early in the semester before the term for which they wish to receive NRSC 3999 credit.  Professors are accustomed to being approached by students, and if they have an opening, they will typically also have an outline of the project. Still, it is advisable to be courteous when approaching the lab, and to ask about the full range of lab research objectives, as well as their expectations of you.


After meeting with one or more potential research advisors, students may choose the laboratory in which they would like to pursue an independent project.  A short research proposal must be submitted to the undergraduate Neuroscience Office no later than the end of the first week of classes in order to be considered for credit.  Students may count up to 2 semesters of research credit towards their Neuroscience elective requirements.  Neuroscience majors who wish to continue their research for a second term may be considered for NRSC 4999 - Honors Thesis research, if their GPA is above 3.5.  Students pursuing NRSC 4999 must meet additional requirements in order to graduate with honors.  Those requirements are listed on the Neuroscience website at These include completing a 400 level NRSC class, participating in the honor seminar and presenting in the research symposium.  Students whose GPA is below 3.5 can still receive Neuroscience credit for completing a second semester of NRSC 3999, although only 2 research credits can be counted for the major. No student shall be allowed to register for more than 2 Neuroscience research credits. Please note that NRSC 1110 - Introduction to the Brain and Behavior is a pre-requisite for NRSC 3999. Students working in the laboratory for pay are not eligible to also receive credit for this work.