Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Track

Basic Requirements: 12 half-courses
Requirements for Honors Eligibility: Non-thesis Option: 12 half-courses
Requirements for Honors Eligibility: Thesis Option: 14 half-courses

Social and Cognitive Neuroscience is a specialized track within the Psychology concentration and part of the Life Sciences cluster of concentration options. As such, it is one of the major paths toward bridging the social and life sciences at Harvard. The track reflects the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of learning and research in psychology, emphasizing integration across the sub-disciplines within psychology (social psychology, cognitive psychology, development, psychopathology) as well as connections between psychology and the other life sciences. Students in this track have the opportunity to study the interplay between traditional interests in psychology such as vision, memory, language, emotion, intergroup relations, and psychological disorders, and recent developments in neuroscience and evolutionary science.

To support this learning, the track will provide a strong foundation of basic knowledge in psychology and the life sciences, as well as analytical, quantitative, and laboratory research skills scientists in these areas employ. Students will also take more advanced courses in social and cognitive neuroscience and conduct research in a faculty laboratory. A thesis option is available for students with strong interests in the research component of the program.

  1. Required courses:

    1. Tier 1: Science of Living Systems 20: Psychological Science (or Psychology 1 or Science B-62 prior to Fall 2009), half-course, recommended during the first year and required by the end of the sophomore year. Letter-graded.

    2. Sophomore Tutorial: Psychology 975, half-course, required by end of sophomore year. Examines issues and phenomena addressed in contemporary psychological and life science research from a variety of perspectives. A sophomore essay is required. Letter-graded.

    3. Basic Methods: Psychology 1900 or Statistics 101, required by end of sophomore year. Must be passed with a grade of C or higher.

    4. Tier 2: Molecular and Cellular Biology 80, half-course, and one other half-course from Psychology 13, 15, 16, and 18, recommended by end of sophomore year. Letter-graded.

    5. Advanced Methods: Psychology 1901, half-course, required by end of junior year. Letter-graded.

    6. Laboratory Methods: half-course, sophomore or junior year. Letter-graded. Select one from a list on the concentration website.

    7. Life Sciences Courses: Three half-courses, including one of Life and Physical Sciences A, Life Sciences 1a, or Life Sciences 1b and two additional related life sciences courses selected from a list on the concentration website. Letter-graded.

    8. Psychology Electives: Two half-courses, both letter-graded. Only one may be non-departmental. (All students see General Track: Basic Requirements, item 5a.) Students may count one additional research course (Psychology 910r, Psychology 985, or a lab methods course) toward concentration requirements. Additional research courses may be taken for College elective credit; students may enroll in 910r up to a total of three times.

  2. For Honors Eligibility:

    1. Non-thesis option: Same as Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Basic Requirements, plus the following:

      1. Minimum Concentration GPA: Students must have a minimum (i.e. with no rounding) concentration GPA of 3.85. Concentration grade-point averages are calculated from a student’s best twelve half-courses that meet the requirements (e.g. Tier 1, Tier 2, methods, electives), including final semester grades.

      2. Admissions Requirement: No application or notification to the department is required. Students who meet the requirements as listed in 2a above at the end of their final semester will receive an Honors recommendation (see below).

      3. Determination of Departmental Honors: A degree recommendation of Honors will be awarded to students who meet these requirements. Students who appear eligible for Honors will receive an award letter from the Department prior to graduation.

    2. Thesis option: 14 half-courses

      1. Senior Tutorial: Psychology 993, full course, senior year. Graded SAT/UNS. See item 3c.

      2. Thesis: See item 4.

      3. Admissions Requirement: An honors application is required, normally in March of the junior year. To apply to the honors thesis program, students must have completed basic, advanced, and laboratory methods and have a 3.5 College grade point average.

      4. Determination of Departmental Honors: Honors degree recommendations are normally determined by a combination of the concentration grade point average and the thesis evaluation. Departmental recommendations can range from No Honors to Highest Honors under this option.

  3. Tutorials:

    1. Sophomore Tutorial (Psychology 975): See Required courses, item 1b for description.

    2. Junior Tutorial: Preparation for the Honors Thesis (Psychology 985): Optional (but strongly recommended for students considering writing a thesis) half-course tutorial consisting of individual reading and research leading to a thesis prospectus, supplemented by occasional required group meetings. Graded SAT/UNS. Prospectus or paper required. Application must be made to the Psychology Undergraduate Office prior to filing study cards.

    3. Senior Tutorial: The Honors Thesis (Psychology 993): Required of students completing the honors thesis option. Full-year individual tutorial consisting of research leading to submission of the thesis, supplemented by required spring poster session and occasional group meetings in conjunction with PSY 990. Graded SAT/UNS.

  4. Thesis: Required for honors eligibility if completing the thesis option. A College GPA of 3.5 or greater is required to apply for the thesis. An adviser-approved thesis application is normally due in March of the junior year. A thesis prospectus meeting giving thesis committee approval of the prospectus is normally required no later than late October of the senior year. The completed thesis is due the Thursday before spring recess of the senior year. Required poster session and defense spring of senior year.

  5. General Examination: None.