Behavioral Neuroscience

Behavioral Neuroscience


The Behavioral Neuroscience program integrates across elements of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and psychology to study how nervous system structure and function produces normal and abnormal behavior. For example, Behavioral Neuroscience majors study the biological basis of normal learning and memory as well as psychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and drug abuse. 

Western's Behavioral Neuroscience program, offered through the Department of Psychology, provides students with the specialized preparation, research opportunities, and technological sophistication critical for success in entry-level research and healthcare positions and postgraduate training in neuroscience, medicine, dentistry, and related disciplines.

Portrait of Lauren Alfiler

“It’s thrilling to conduct real research and then present it to the public, who are always amazed at what undergraduate students are doing at Western. I love that Behavioral Neuroscience emphasizes our duty as researchers to teach the public about science.”

Lauren Alfiler
Behavioral Neuroscience Student

Beyond the Classroom

Behavioral Neuroscience is more than an academic major at Western, it is a family of dedicated faculty, staff, and students who collaborate in behavioral neuroscience research and outreach. Behavioral Neuroscience majors are actively involved in original research with faculty and staff, frequently coauthoring national and international conference presentations and journal articles. Students may also be involved in the Neuroscience Research Driven Students (NeRDS) Club, hosting activities that range from purely social gatherings to increasing brain awareness through outreach to K-12 public school classrooms and community laboratory tours.  

Portrait of Kristin Maris

"Being involved in Behavioral Neuroscience research has given me valuable hands-on laboratory experience that is difficult to come by as an undergraduate. I feel a sense of fulfillment knowing that I am contributing in some small way to furthering our understanding of the neurobiology of addiction, in hopes that this research will help to identify better strategies to effectively treat addiction and facilitate rehabilitation."

Kristin Maris
Behavioral Neuroscience Student

Careers and Graduate Studies

Behavioral Neuroscience students at Western receive the specialized preparation critical for success in such graduate-training programs as neuroscience, psychology, pharmacology, mental health, neurobiology, medicine, and dentistry. Western students have continued their studies at the following schools, among many others:  

  • Arizona State University: Neuroscience (PhD)  

  • University of Washington: Medical School (MD and PA), Dental School    

  • University of Tennessee Health Science Center: Neuroscience (PhD) 

  • Johns Hopkins University: Medical School (MD) and Neuroscience (PhD) 

  • Washington State University: Neuroscience (PhD) and Pharmacy (Pharm D)

  • University of Texas Southwestern: Immunology (PhD) 

  • Oregon Health Sciences University: Medical School (MD) and Neuroscience (PhD) 

  • University of British Columbia: Neuroscience (PhD)

For students who do not anticipate pursuing post-graduate education, the degree provides an excellent platform for entry-level positions in academia and industry. Western students have been employed by the following academic institutions and companies, among others: 

  • Seattle Neuropsychiatric Treatment Center 

  • Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories 

  • University of Washington 

  • Western Washington University 

  • Gilead Sciences 

  • Allen Institute for Brain Science

  • Fred Hutch

“Western is one of the few public institutions in the country offering an undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience major. The success of our graduates is testimony to the strength of this new program!”

– Janet Finlay, Faculty


Sample Jobs

  • Neuroscientist 
  • Biomedical Researcher 
  • Psychiatrist 
  • Medical Doctor 
  • Dentist 
  • Pharmacist 
  • Veterinarian 
  • Physician Assistant 
  • Pharmaceutical Sales

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.