Jul 15, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Behavioral Neuroscience, BS

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study

Department of Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

105-110 credits


Behavioral neuroscience explores the role of the nervous system in normal and abnormal behavior, thought, and emotion. This major emphasizes an understanding of nervous system structure and function from the molecular/cellular level to the systems level. For example, behavioral neuroscientists study the neurobiological basis of normal learning and memory, psychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and drug abuse and neurological illnesses such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Why Consider a Behavioral Neuroscience Major?

This interdisciplinary field provides students with the specialized preparation and technological sophistication critical for success in a variety of graduate-training programs, including neuroscience, psychology, pharmacology, mental health, and neurobiology; and in health care, including medicine and dentistry. For those students who do not anticipate pursuing post-graduate education, the degree program provides an excellent platform for entry-level positions in such areas as biomedical research and the pharmaceutical industry.

 Contact Information

Program Director
Jeff Grimm
Academic Instructional Center 586

Andrea Swanson
Academic Instructional Center 588

Faculty Advisors
Evan Ardiel, Feng Cao, Jeffrey Grimm, Kelly Jantzen, Joshua Kaplan, Jacqueline Rose.

 Sample Careers

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

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

Students interested in the BNS major declare a BNS pre-major while they are completing the required prerequisite courses for application to the major. Students must have a Western GPA (based on at least 12 credits) of 2.90 or higher. In the absence of a Western GPA, a GPA of 2.90 or higher from an equivalent four-year institution (based on at least 12 credits) or a cumulative GPA from a completed associates degree may substitute for the Western GPA. Students meet with the BNS advisor to declare a BNS pre-major. The BNS pre-major is required for applying the BNS major, but admission to the BNS pre-major does not guarantee admission to the BNS major.

Insufficient Progress Policy

Declared BNS pre-majors who fail to make progress towards applying to the BNS major based on one or more of the following criteria, may have their pre-major status removed.

  1. When a student’s cumulative GPA drops below 2.9 for more than a single quarter.
  2. When, after completing all possible prerequisite courses (including allowed course repeats), a student does not meet the requirements for applying to the major.
  3. When a student has not applied to the major or taken a class required by the BNS major for at least two consecutive quarters. 

Major Application Process

Students are eligible to apply to the BNS major once they have completed the following requirements:

  • Successfully declared a BNS pre-major
  • Complete at least 75 undergraduate credits.
  • Complete at least 12 credits at WWU.
  • Complete the following courses with an average grade point of 2.9 or higher: CHEM 161, CHEM 162, CHEM 163; BIOL 204, BIOL 205, BIOL 206; PSY 101, PSY 220.
  • You may retake one of these classes previously passed (C- or above), once in an attempt to raise your average GPA. If you retake more than one, we will only use the new GPA of the first class you retook. Repeating classes not passed with a C- or above, do not count as the one allowed repeat. If you have any questions, please contact the major advisor.
  • After completing the above, submit an online application via the BNS Program website at wp.wwu.edu/bnsprogram. The online application includes written responses to a number of questions. For assistance with your application, contact the BNS advisor by email at bns@wwu.edu. This is a competitive application process. Admission to the BS-BNS major is space-limited.

Behavioral Neuroscience is a high demand major that requires the complex scheduling of courses across multiple departments. It is expected that not all students will have access to the courses needed to complete the major in the academic year following acceptance. Please tailor your academic plan accordingly.  

Application deadlines

Students can declare a BNS pre-major at any time. The application deadline for consideration of BNS major status is the end of the second full week of classes fall, winter, and spring quarters.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major courses.


Seminar Requirements (5 credits)

Electives Under Advisement (3-5 credits)

Choose one course from the following list. Credits from PSY 319, PSY 321, and PSY 322 can only be applied once.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs of Study