Biology major with neurobiology concentration or neuroscience major?

Hello everyone! I am a current high school sophomore who has begun the preliminary stages of the college search. While I know that I want to study something within the field of biology or chemical biology, I am not sure which subcategory of bio I want to take. I have been considering neuroscience, and in my online research of colleges, I have noticed that many colleges offer neurobiology concentrations within the biology major. The same colleges also have separate majors for neuroscience. These colleges include Northwestern, Stanford, Penn, Duke, and others. What are the benefits of each major path? Thanks.


What are your career goals with Biology? Pre-Med? PhD? Researcher? Teacher?

@IN4655 PhD Researcher.

Having a specific bio concentration as an undergrad isn’t really a big deal, some schools don’t even offer it. It can’t hurt you to have it, but it’s no loss not to. The key is to do research with a professor in one of the fields you’re interested in and get your name on some publications. If you have a local college/university check out the faculty profiles online and shoot them an e-mail: tell them you’re in high school and want to get a feel for the field.

@smsstudent I wouldn’t worry too much about the decision. It will make little difference in the end. Because you have so much flexibility in terms of what classes count towards your major as well as your electives, it’s very possible that people in different majors may end up having significant overlap in their classes.

One big benefit of bio is that you can take life science courses that may not be directly related to neuro, but are either interesting to you intellectually or pertinent to your specific subdiscipline of interest within neuro. For example, say you are interested in macroglia or something else in neuroimmunology. Most/all of the immunology courses may not count towards neuroscience major requirements at many institutions, but would for biology.

On the other hand, neuro but not bio major requirements may be fulfilled by social science courses. If you are interested in, say, social neuroscience, you may be able to have social psychology and sociology courses count towards your neuro graduation requirements.

By the way, Stanford does not have a neuroscience major, unless something has changed since I graduated (I doubt it). I’m not sure where you saw that. We have neuro tracks in biology, psychology, symbolic systems.