The University of Pennsylvania is one of the world’s preeminent institutions for neuroscience research and training. There approximately 200 faculty from 32 departments and six schools, including Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, and Veterinary Medicine. This environment is ideal for interdisciplinary collaborations aimed at understanding the brain and diseases of the brain. The Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences brings together all of these neuroscientists to promote a collaborative atmosphere and involve faculty and students in various outreach programs. Closely associated with the Institute is the Neuroscience Graduate Group which trains approximately 120 students working towards a Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Students are strongly encouraged to become involved in neuroscience research early in their undergraduate careers at Penn. BBB students 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 engaging in neuroscience research can find more information at https://bbb.sas.upenn.edu/research/getting-started.
Studying Neuroscience as an Undergrad
Students interested in studying brain and behavior at Penn have a number of different options. The two most comprehensive ways to study neuroscience at Penn, however, are through the Biological Basis of Behavior Program (BBB) and through the neurobiology concentration in the Biology Department. Both of these majors offer similar opportunities. What distinguishes BBB is the stronger emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and more opportunities for cognitive and clinical neuroscience in the BBB major, while there is more molecular and cellular biology training in the Biology Major. Both of these majors also strongly encourage independent research in many of the neuroscience research laboratories on campus. There are several additional majors such as Criminology, Cognitive Sciences and Psychology that also require students to take a number of neuroscience courses and provide students with a solid foundation in the brain and behavioral sciences.
For students who are interested in the neurosciences but do not want to major in that area, the BBB program offers a number of different minors. The BBB minor offers broad training in neurobiology and behavior. The newly created computational neuroscience minor offers students training in the application of quantitative methods to the analysis of neural circuits and the brain. Finally for students wishing to combine the study of neuroscience and behavior with bioscience and health care management, the BBB program offers a joint minor with the Health Care Systems Department (HCMG) of the Wharton School.
Whether you will be majoring in BBB or pursuing one of the BBB minors, the course that all students must take is the BBB introductory course, BBB109: Introduction to Brain and Behavior.
Students interested in the BBB major are strongly encouraged to take BBB 109 during their freshman year. There are no pre-requisites for BBB 109 but it is required that students complete the class before moving on to additional BBB coursework. Students considering majors in BBB, Biology, Psychology, Anthropology, Criminology, Cognitive Science, Health and Societies or Visual Studies should be aware that BBB 109 may be counted towards each of those majors, making it an ideal course for freshmen who are still considering a variety of majors. Additionally, BBB 109 fulfills the Living World Sector requirement.