The Neurobiology emphasis in MCB will be retiring at the end of the Spring 2025 semester. There is a new major Neuroscience which will replace MCB-Neurobiology. We will still accept declarations into MCB-Neurobiology until the end of Spring 2025 and all students who are declared MCB-Neurobiology will be allowed to complete the emphasis. MCB-Neurobiology classes will be moving to the new major so check below for equivalencies. Students are also allowed to change their major to Neuroscience starting Fall 2024. Please let us know if you have any questions: or

Upper Division Requirements, Sample 4-yr Plans, Elective Lists

Neurobiology is the study of the brain and nervous system, which are the cells and tissue that generate sensation, perception, movement, learning, emotion, and many of the functions that make us human.  In the past decades, neurobiological research has made tremendous advances in understanding how this complex organ works, and what goes wrong in neurological disease.  Neurobiology is intrinsically multi-disciplinary, spanning from molecular biology and gene regulation in neurons, to chemical and electrical signaling in neurons, to information processing by neural circuits and brain regions, to nervous system development and plasticity.  Knowledge at each of these levels is merged to generate a mechanistic, molecular-to-systems level understanding of animal and human behavior.  Active research areas in neurobiology include:  What is the genetic program that makes a neuron?  Can new neurons be created to treat disease?  How do ion channels work that mediate electrical signaling in neurons?   How do synapses work, and how do they store information during learning?  How do networks of neurons process information and perform computations for behavior?  How does the brain develop, and how is it specialized through evolution to generate species-specific behavior?  Why do neurons die in neurodegenerative disease, and how can they be saved?

Recent research advances within the Division include understanding how voltage-gated ion channels function, development of new optical approaches to monitor and control activity in specific neurons, how taste sensation works in Drosophila, how neural activity is homeostatically controlled via novel gene regulation pathways, how the retina and cerebral cortex processes sensory information, and how sensory use alters synapses to store sensory information in the brain.  Overall, 55 faculty at Berkeley (in MCB and other departments) conduct neurobiology research, reflecting the diversity and importance of this field within modern biology.

The Neurobiology emphasis prepares students for careers in medicine, including in medical specialties involving the nervous system (neurology, pharmacology, psychiatry, neuropsychiatry, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, optometry), in scientific research in neurobiology (postgraduate study), in biotechnology (including technical and research-oriented careers), and in other biology-related careers (nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy).   All Neurobiology majors receive essential coursework in molecular and cell biology, as well as rigorous training in specific neurobiology courses.  We are distinguished from other MCB emphases by the multi-level, multi-disciplinary approach, and by the focus on the brain.  We are distinguished from Psychology and Cognitive Science by emphasizing a mechanistic, molecular, cellular and circuit-level understanding of behavior and disease.

Upper Division Requirements

MCB 102: Survey of Biochem & Molecular Biology (Fa, Sp, Su; 4 un)
MCB 104: Genetics, Genomics & Cell Biology (Fa, Sp, Su; 4 un)
MCB 160: Cellular & Molecular Neurobiology (Fa; 4 un)
Starting Fall 24 listed as NEU 100A
MCB 161: Circuit, Systems & Behavioral Neuroscience (Sp; 4 un)
Starting Spring 25 listed as NEU 100B
MCB 163L: Mammalian Neuroanatomy Lab (Sp; 4 un) OR MCB 160L: Neurobiology Lab (Fa; 4 un) 
Starting Fall 24 listed as NEU 171L and 173L
NEU Elective
  • Physics 8A is a prerequisite for MCB 160. Physics 8B is recommended to take before or concurrently.
  • MCB 160 and MCB 161 are intended to be taken in sequence. The prerequisite for MCB 161 is MCB 160 and this is strictly enforced.

Sample 4-yr Plans

These are just examples, for more sample schedules including spring start and transfer see or meet with an advisor to explore your options. It is recommended by MCB advisors and faculty to take the upper division lab as early as you can if you are interested in research and/or honors research. 

Neurobiology   Neurobiology
Year 1   Year 1
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
Math 10A 4 Math 10B 4   Math 10A 4 Math 10B 4
Chem 1A/1AL 5 Chem 3A/3AL 5   Chem 1A/1AL 5 Chem 3A/3AL 5
Year 2   Year 2
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
Chem 3B/3BL 5 Biology 1A/1AL 5   Chem 3B/3BL 5 Biology 1A/1AL 5
Bio 1B 4 Physics 8A 4   Physics 8A 4 Physics 8B 4
Year 3   Year 3
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
MCB 160 4 MCB 161 4   MCB 102 4 MCB 104 4
Physics 8B 4 MCB 102 4   Bio 1B 4    
Year 4   Year 4
Fall Un Spring Un   Fall Un Spring Un
MCB 160L or 104 4 MCB 163L or 104 4   MCB 160 4 MCB 161 4
Elective 3-4       MCB 160L or elective 4 MCB 163L or elective 4


  Neurobiology Elective List

Molecular and Cell Biology

  • C130 Cell Biology: from Discovery to Disease (Sp; 4 units)
  • 135A Molecular Endocrinology (F; 3 units)
  • 136 Physiology (F, Sp; 4 units)
  • 137L Physical Biology of the Cell (Sp; 3 units)
  • 141 Developmental Biology (Sp; 4 units)
  • 150 Molecular Immunology (F, Sp; 4 units)
  • 153 Molecular Medicine (F, 4 units)
  • 160L Neurobiology Lab (Sp; 4 units) (allowed only if MCB 163L is used as lab requirement)
  • 163L Mammalian Neuroanatomy Lab (F; 4 units) (allowed only if MCB 160L is used as lab requirement)
  • 165 Neurobiology of Disease (Sp; 3 units)
  • 166 Biophysical Neurobiology (F; 3 units)
  • 168 Sensory Neuroscience (F, 4 units)
  • C175 LSBE Capstone (F, 4 units) (restricted to LSBE students only)


  • 121 Bio MEMS and Medical Devices (Fa; 4 units)

Cognitive Science

  • C127 Cognitive Neuroscience (F, Sp; 3 units)

Integrative Biology

  • 139 The Neurobiology of Stress (F; 4 units)
  • C143A Biological Clocks: Physiology & Behavior (Alt F; 3 units)
  • C143B Hormones & Behavior (Sp; 3 units)
  • C144 Animal Behavior (F; 4 units)


  • 110 Linear Algebra (F, Sp, Su; 4 units)
  • 127 Mathematical and Computational Methods in Molecular Biology (F; 4 units)
  • 128A Numerical Analysis (F, Sp, Su; 4 units)
  • 128B Numerical Analysis (Sp; 4 units)


  • 112 Introduction to Statistical and Thermal Physics (F, Sp; 4 units)


  • C113 Biological Clocks: Physiology and Behavior (alt F; 3 units)
  • C116 Hormones and Behavior (Sp; 3 units)
  • 117 Human Neuropsychology (Sp, Su; 3 units)
  • C127 Cognitive Neuroscience (F, Sp; 4 units)

Public Health

  • 129 The Aging Human Brain (F; 3 units)
  • 142 Introduction to Probability and Statistics in Biology & Public Health (F, Sp, Su; 4 units) 


  • C131A Statistical Methods for Data Science (F, Sp; 4 units)

Approved Courses but NOT Regularly Offered

  • BioEng 143 Computational Methods in Biology
  • MCB 137 Computer Simulation in Biology (replaced by MCB 137L)
  • MCB C145 Genomics
  • Physics 132 Contemporary Physics
  • Pb Hlth 141 Introduction to Biostatistics (Su; 5 units)

Previously Approved Electives

  • MCB 132 Biology of Human Cancer - no longer approved (effective for students declaring Fall 2018 and after)
  • IB 131 Human Anatomy - no longer approved under new curriculum (effective sp15)
  • Psych C112 The Biology of Stress (no longer offered; 3 units)
  • MCB 167 Physiological and Genetic Basis of Behavior (Sp; 3 units) - no longer offered after Sp15