Neurobiology, the study of the nervous system, is a field of science that investigates the biological mechanisms that underlie behavior. To develop a comprehensive understanding, we study the nervous system at every level from the macroscopic (behavior and cognition) to the microscopic (cells and molecules). Thus, the study of neurobiology provides both a broad scientific training and a deep understanding of the biology of the nervous system.

The Neurobiology secondary curriculum begins with a fundamental course requirement that reflects the diversity of approaches in neuroscience: biological, computational, and quantitative. Students also take an introductory neurobiology course, which lays out the body of knowledge in the field. Next students choose a foundational course in a sub-field of neurobiology ranging from molecules to animal behavior. Finally, in advanced elective courses, students explore specific areas of neurobiology more deeply based on their interests. We now list over 40 advanced courses on a range of topics: cells and circuits, physiology, learning and memory, cognitive science, development, genetics, and disease and therapeutics.

REQUIREMENTS: 5 courses (20 credits)

Requirements below are for students in the class of 2019 and beyond. Students in the class of 2018 and 2017 can petition to switch to the new requirements (below). Otherwise, students should refer to the Secondary Fields from the year during which they declared their concentration

  1. One of the following courses:
    1. Life Sciences 1a or Life and Physical Sciences A
    2. Computer Science 50
    3. Math at the level of Math 1b or above
    4. an additional advanced course in neurobiology (as described in # 4 below).
  2. Molecular and Cellular Biology 80 or Molecular and Cellular Biology 81
  3. One foundational course chosen from the following:
    1. OEB 57 (Animal Behavior)
    2. MCB 105 (Systems Neuroscience)
    3. MCB 115 (Cellular Basis of Neuronal Function)
    4. MCB 125 (Molecular Basis of Behavior)
  4. Two advanced courses in neurobiology. These courses must be chosen from a list of approved courses maintained on the concentration website. Courses listed as MBB electives do not count toward the secondary field in Neurobiology.


Students must take either MCB 80 or MCB 81 before enrolling in the advanced neurobiology courses. Neurobiology tutorials designated as Neurobiology 101-level (formerly Neurobiology 101hf) are considered advanced neurobiology courses. Ordinarily, only one tutorial course may be counted toward the secondary field. Students enrolling in Life Sciences 100r must complete the Neurobiology project and may only take the course once for secondary field credit.

All courses in the secondary field must be taken for a letter grade, and students must earn a grade of C- or better in each course. Freshman Seminars may not be included for credit. Ordinarily, Harvard Summer School courses may not count towards secondary field credit. Courses taken through study abroad programs may be counted for credit in the secondary field by petition. Courses taken at other Harvard faculties (e.g., Harvard Medical School) may count for the secondary field by petition or if the course is one of the approved advanced neurobiology courses. With the exception of the tutorials/seminars and laboratories, none of our courses have limited enrollment.


Prior to completing the required courses, students are welcome to meet with Dr. Draft as needed, and are encouraged to meet with him upon completing the introductory courses in order to select appropriate advanced courses. After completing the requirements for the secondary field, students are required to meet with Dr. Ryan Draft, the Concentration Adviser, in order to confirm that the courses they have taken count for credit towards the Neurobiology secondary field.

Questions about the secondary field in Neurobiology should be addressed to Dr. Ryan Draft, the Neurobiology Concentration Adviser (BioLabs Room 1082a, 16 Divinity Ave., 617-496-9908,, or the Head Tutor, Professor Jeff Lichtman. Either Dr. Draft or Dr. Lichtman may sign the final form for secondary field credit.