Your academic advisor has expertise in scholarly issues, especially pertaining to neuroscience. There are many other issues about which you may seek advice and support such as student health, legal matters, writing and learning skills, general career planning, lifestyle/residential issues, academic accommodations and more. UVM offers a variety of free professional advising regarding these and other issues. The College of Arts & Sciences Student Services can help you to identify the resources most likely to meet your needs.
The fundamental purpose of academic advising is to assist you in clarifying and meeting your educational and career goals. Academic advising works best when both the student and faculty member work together as a team.
Getting an Advisor within Neuroscience
When you declare a Neuroscience major, you will be assigned to a faculty advisor. You should meet with your advisor prior to the pre-registration period each semester to discuss your progress towards fulfilling your degree requirements. We encourage first and second-year students to take advantage of group advising sessions with faculty and/or peer advisors. For juniors and seniors, meetings one-on-one meetings with faculty advisors may be more appropriate. Remember: it’s your responsibility to schedule and attend advising meetings.
Advising within Neuroscience
Advising help is available to Neuroscience majors through a variety of formats including the neuroscience website which explains course requirements for the major, what to expect from your advisor, how to plan for study abroad, and suggestions for how to use your degree after graduation. Many of your questions may be answered via the website, so please read through it thoroughly before contacting your advisor.
Group Advising Meetings
Just before course registration time, majors will be invited to an advising session with either a faculty member or peer advisors to go over common questions and guidance on major requirements, course sequencing, distribution requirements, and more.
Each student is assigned to an individual faculty advisor; please make an appointment with your advisor for detailed, specific, or unusual questions related to courses, off-campus studies, or other issues.
If and when your advisor goes on sabbatical or other leave, you will be assigned temporarily to another faculty member until your advisor returns and resumes duties; if you are being reassigned, the department’s administrative assistant will email you to let you know who your acting advisor is. If for whatever reason you would like to change your advisor, please contact the program director.
Additional Resources: Careers, Research, Graduate School
The Neuroscience Program is committed to helping students learn more about their chosen area of study and the opportunities associated with it. As nationally and internationally-known scholars with successful careers in the sciences, our faculty members have a wealth of expertise to share about the nature of the field, graduate programs in neuroscience and related disciplines, and new research initiatives. In addition to consulting individual faculty members about these issues, we strongly encourage you to attend regular events devoted to the following topics:
- Research opportunities: offers an overview of various research opportunities on campus related to neuroscience, and how to get involved.
- Applying to graduate school: explores when and if to apply, what materials you need to prepare, how to choose a program, and what job prospects are like in various field.
- Pre-med: explains how to prepare to apply to medical school, whether and when to apply, what makes applications successful, etc.
- Career ideas: brings together UVM alums to talk about how their studies of neuroscience helped prepare them for jobs in health care, research, nonprofits, and more. Usually offered in March.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I begin to do research in a lab?
We generally recommend that you try to find a lab in which to work by the beginning of the junior year or earlier. Many of the labs utilize cutting edge technology or research methods that are complex or technically challenging. Students may have to spend 10-20 hours a week in the lab learning and practicing new skills before they can begin to collect data for a project. Many labs will spend the time and effort to teach you but it may take up to a year before these methods are mastered. Waiting until your senior year to work in the lab can limit your options.
In the past, some UVM students started working in a lab during their first year and by the time they graduated, they had developed an amazing research record including co-authorships on published papers and presentations at national scientific meetings. You can start early as a work-study student in a lab or by volunteering to work in a lab to see if the lab environment is right for you, but we recommend that most students be sure that they limit their commitment to a research lab until they have adjusted to the demands of college-level class requirements. Usually, a student can become fully involved in a research project by their sophomore year.
Can I also complete the requirements of a minor with the neuroscience major?
As a BS major, you do not have to complete a minor but we encourage students who want to do this. You have plenty of opportunities for combining a minor with the neuroscience major, even if it is a non-science minor. The choice of a minor often depends upon the career goals of the student. For example, one student wanted to combine a music minor with the neuroscience major as she wanted to study the neurological basis of music perception. Another combined a minor in social policy with neuroscience for a career in health policy. The interdisciplinary nature of the neuroscience major can be paired with lots of other fields. You should work with your advisor to develop a program of study that will accommodate the requirements of the minor as well as the neuroscience major.
Can I also complete the requirements of another major with those of the neuroscience major?
Completing the requirements of two majors is always more difficult since there are limits to how many courses required by one major can also be counted towards the second major. We have worked out programs of study for double majors of individual students but each program depends upon the course work already completed by the student and the requirements of both majors. You should work with your advisor to develop a program of study that will accommodate the two majors.
What do I need to do to prepare for medical school and the MCAT exams?
When you complete the requirements of the neuroscience major, you will have already met many of the requirements for most medical schools and the MCATs. In addition to the minimum requirements for the major you need to take Chem 142 and two courses in physics. We also recommend that you take a biochemistry course.
What do I need to do to prepare for graduate school?
This will depend upon the area of study you wish to pursue as a graduate student. If it is a more cellular or molecular program, then probably more biology, chemistry and physics will be required. On the other hand, if you are interested in more human-oriented areas of study, such as human cognition or clinical psychology, then you may consider taking more courses in psychology or communication sciences. Many of these will already be course options within the neuroscience major. The neuroscience major is designed to give you freedom in the junior and senior years to select the best courses for your career goals. We recommend that you explore the requirements of the schools offering the degree work in which you are interested, then consult with your neuroscience advisor to determine what courses you should take. Don’t forget that many graduate schools value highly any undergraduate research experience you can acquire. The nature of the research is generally less important than the level to which you participated in the project.
Can I take more neuroscience courses than those required by the major?
Absolutely. All of us in neuroscience realize that our passion for this field comes from being able to focus on our areas of interest. Even so, we read about (and sometimes do) research in many other areas of neuroscience to see what wonderful and exciting advances are being made. To do this, we need to be able to understand the nature of the research and appreciate the importance of all of these other areas of neuroscience. We see the requirements of our neuroscience major as the minimum needed so the student can understand and appreciate these areas of neuroscience, but we also know that some students are just discovering what topics in neuroscience are most captivating to them. Students need room in their curriculum to explore these possibilities further. We recommend that students consider taking additional neuroscience courses listed in the Advanced Course Options menu that are of interest to the student.