This semester, UNC students are able to choose neuroscience as a major for the first time.
Students who declare the 76 or 77-hour interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science major will take classes in the Departments of Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Statistics and Operations Research, Computer Science, Psychology and Neuroscience, Exercise and Sport Science, Physics and Astronomy, Mathematics and Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as classes in the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health.
An Executive Advisory Committee will oversee the new major's progress with representatives from each of the 10 sponsoring departments. The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience will be the administering department.
“The field of neuroscience became of increasing interest to our undergraduate students, and the current demand for a neuroscience major is very high,” said Kelly Giovanello of the Psychology and Neuroscience Department.
Giovanello will run the new major as a professor and the director of curricula.
UNC added a neuroscience minor in 2015. There are currently more than 400 students enrolled in the minor.
Neuroscience Club Co-president Noah Miller is a senior double majoring in biology and psychology and minoring in neuroscience. He was drawn to the field because of its potential to improve human lives.
“The brain is the source of all human thought and action. Neuroscience, the study of the brain, has profound potential as a science,” Miller said.
He hopes to work as a neuroscience researcher.
“I won’t be switching to the new major since I am a senior and can’t fit it in in time," Miller said. "Had it been available earlier, I certainly would have and expect many people will."
Many students are already pursuing neuroscience on campus in some capacity. The Carolina Neuroscience Club formed in March 2009 with more than 100 members. Now, the club has grown to more than 500 members.
Miller said he considered universities’ neuroscience departments when he was applying to colleges five years ago. He hopes the new major will attract other science-minded students.
The University decided to add the major now because several peer or local institutions, like Duke University and East Carolina University, already offer an undergraduate neuroscience major, Giovanello said.
“Within the state of North Carolina, there are numerous academic and research institutions, as well as industrial and pharmaceutical companies, especially within the Research Triangle area, that hire individuals with training in neuroscience,” said Giovanello.
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