Note: each and every underlined thing contains a link!! Be sure to click them for more information.

CWRU Neuroscience Major

Declaring your Major(s)

Steps to declare your major are found on this site. In short:

  1. Fill out the "Major Declaration/Change Form" found here
  2. Get it signed by your respective academic advisor
  3. Email it to ugadvisingsupport@case.edu 

Contact your four-year advisor with any questions regarding this process.

Courses for the Neuroscience Major

Click this link to see what courses you need to graduate with a neuroscience major. Most of it is self-explanatory, but you're probably looking at the "Undergraduate Research" requirement and thinking...

"How do I get research for academic credit?"

Yeah, it's a little complicated. CWRU's neuroscience major requires 6 credit hours of neuroscience research. You should first take NEUR/BIOL 388, and then take the capstone course NEUR/BIOL 388S.

  1. To start, find a lab to volunteer in (Need help? Scroll down to "Finding Labs"). Once settled in a lab, and your PI (principal investigator) agrees that you're ready to do a research project for credit, determine which 388 course to enroll in:
    • If your lab is under the CWRU School of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic or the VA, enroll in the "NEUR" category.
    • If your lab is under the CWRU College of Arts and Sciences, enroll in the "BIOL" category. 
  2. To enroll in your research course, request enrollment permission on SIS. Then, do the following:
    • NEUR courses: Follow the instructions on this website
    • BIOL courses: Fill out this form and give it to the Biology Office (DeGrace Hall Rm. 203).
  3. If all goes well, you'll get enrollment permission on SIS.
  4. After enrollment, you'll get assigned to a Research Sponsor, who will be your point of contact for any questions or concerns regarding the course.
  5. For the 388 courses, you'll write a 5-6 page paper due by the end of the semester. For the 388S courses, you'll write a ~20 page paper and give a public presentation on it. Students commonly present at CWRU Intersections.

Additional Notes: 

  • The 388S capstone course is often a continuation of the research you've done in the 388 course. If your project is incomplete after a semester of 388, you can finish it for your 388S capstone.
  • For each credit hour of research, you're expected to dedicate 3 hours in the lab per week. In reality, you may be spending more than this requirement. Make sure you have enough time in your schedule.
  • The deadline to complete the 388/388S enrollment process is the general CWRU enrollment deadline: 2 weeks into the semester. Please submit your documents early, so that they can get approved in time!
  • You cannot get paid for research that you are doing for academic credit.
  • For more information, see this FAQ document.

Graduating with Honors in Neuroscience

Graduating with Honors is a great way to showcase your excellence in your neuroscience academics and research!

To qualify, you need to do the following: 

  1. Get a minimum 3.4 overall GPA, with a minimum 3.6 GPA in neuroscience-related courses.
  2. Complete 6 credit hours of independent research (achieved with the 388 and 388S courses)
  3. Defend your "senior honors thesis" (can be the 20 page paper you wrote for 388S) in an oral examination. This thesis must be approved by a faculty supervisor and submitted for review by an ad hoc committee. 

If you're already completing the B.S. in Neuroscience, you basically just need to defend your 388S capstone paper in an oral exam. More details can be found here.

Research: Getting Started

Finding Labs

There are many ways to find a lab at CWRU and the surrounding area. Check out these resources:

"What the heck am I reading?"

You may find that, while familiarizing yourself with a researcher's interests by reading their publications, you have absolutely no idea what you're reading. Research literature does not read like normal literature: it's full of scientific jargon and obscure acronyms. 

Reaching Out to Labs (Examples Below)

Once you find a lab you're interested in, you should email the lab's "principal investigator," or PI for short. PI's are the people who run the labs, secure the grants, and will (potentially) sign your paychecks. Here are some tips:

  • Email multiple PI's, and don't be afraid of rejection. Send a follow-up email if they don't respond.
  • We strongly recommend you apply for a volunteer position (rather than a paid position). Labs will spend a lot of time and money to train you. Many PI's will offer you a paid position after 1-2 semesters with them, and/or if you stay over the summer to work in their lab.
  • Things to include:
    • SPECIFIC reasons as to why you're interested in their lab, and how being in that lab will benefit both you and them. Read up on their latest research!
    • Your weekly time commitment (usually around 10 hrs/wk).
    • Your resume or CV.
    • Indicate if you'd like to stay for a capstone project (BIOL or NEUR 388/388S) - researchers are looking for long-term commitment!

Below are some emails that actually worked!

Example Email #1

Hello Dr. Pineapple,
My name is [name] and I am a [grade level] this year at CWRU majoring in [major]. I have met with [CWRU professor] and talked about the prospective steps of fulfilling the major requirements. I discussed the names and labs of the undergraduate research sponsors with [CWRU professor], along with my future interests in areas of research I want to further, and they seemed very enthusiastic when I brought up your name. I would like to know if there is an opportunity to volunteer at the Pineapple Lab during this fall semester. The Pineapple Lab is my first choice of where I want to volunteer, and I aim to get my foot in the door and start my research endeavors here. I do not have any laboratory experience but I would like to learn about your specific techniques of research. I have visited the official website of the Pineapple Lab and I would like to understand more about [aspect of the Pineapple Lab]. In the future, if I am a part of the Pineapple Lab, I would like to delve deeper into a project on [interest of the Pineapple Lab] and I believe learning from your lab would be valuable. As well as being inexperienced, I would like to inform you that I have not taken many specific neuroscience courses as of now. I am trying to catch up with all the knowledge and jargon in this field and I am eager to learn and read more about specific areas of research. I understand if a position is unavailable at this time or I do not satisfy the need for experience or knowledge. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,[name]

Example Email #2

Hello Dr. Pizza,
My name is [name], and I am a [grade level] at CWRU majoring in [major]. I am reaching out to see if I can join your lab as a volunteer research assistant. I recently took a course on [interesting neuro-related course], where I learned [topic related to Pizza Lab's interests]. However, it raised a lot of questions for me, like [questions that indicate understanding of Pizza Lab's field]. I'm really interested in [Pizza Lab's interests], and I believe your research is relevant to this topic. Thus, if possible, I would love to join your lab as a research assistant.
I can start working from [date], when I get back on campus for the fall semester. I expect to have 8-10 hours per week that I can dedicate to this position. Attached below is my resume. Let me know if you have a spot open for someone like me.

Example Email #3

Dr. Pie,
I hope this email finds you well. My name is [name], and I am a(n) [major] undergraduate student at CWRU. I am currently looking into research opportunities on campus. When looking at your website, your lab's goals of better understanding [Pie Lab's interests], and the widespread implications of [aforementioned interests], caught my attention. 
Your recent publication regarding [topic on Dr. Pie's article] struck me when I was looking at your website. This [technique used by the Pie Lab] could change the way that neuroscience animal research is conducted. I would love to learn more about the implications of [aforementioned technique] and the large-scale possibilities that this research could have on the neuroscience field along with how your lab is continuing this project. 
This being said, I would love the opportunity to become more involved or even just to learn more about the research that your lab is currently working on. Therefore, I was wondering if you are still currently accepting undergraduate students in your lab? I am on campus and would love to find a time to meet with you if you are willing. I have attached my resume and I look forward to hearing from you either way. Please let me know if there is any more information that I can provide you! Thank you for your time, and have a wonderful day.

Research: Miscellaneous

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of Recommendation are very important for any type of position after undergrad: medical school, graduate school, industry job, you name it. Thus, here are some tips on getting contacts for your LOR's:

  • Connect with your professors as early as possible, so that they can write a letter that is specifically tailored for you.
    • Attend office hours and ask questions after class!
    • Ask about their research and career path.
    • Ask about your interests and how they may relate to the professor's course.
  • Connect with your CWRU advisors and lab PI's too!

Once you've established a personal & unique relationship with each LOR writer, ask them to write you an LOR:

  • Notify them AT LEAST 2 weeks in advance, so that they have adequate time to prepare a good letter.
  • Include a reflection of your experience with the LOR writer - tell them what parts of your character you want them to emphasize, and give them a refresher on what you've accomplished with them.
  • Send them a copy of your resume or CV, as well as your transcript, for reference.

Make sure to thank them for writing your letter, and follow up with any good news you receive!

Summer Research & Other Opportunities

Fill out this Google Form for a huge database of neuroscience-related programs! Link is for 2023.

For CWRU programs, check out this website.

Publishing your Research

There are multiple undergraduate journals that you can publish your research to! Publishing is a fantastic way to gain experience and recognition in a relatively "low-stakes" environment.

  • Discussions: our local CWRU undergrad research journal
  • IMPULSE: an international, online neuroscience journal for undergrad publications
  • CUSJ: the undergrad journal run by fellow undergrads at Columbia University
  • DUJS: Dartmouth's undergrad journal
  • For more journals, check out this website 

Note: you (i.e. students) cannot publish research from a lab without your PI's permission, but you can publish review papers and/or papers you wrote for a course.

Attending Neuroscience Conferences

Conferences are a great way to gain connections and learn about the latest neuroscience research. You can also apply to present your research at a conference. Here are some local neuroscience conferences in our area:

Registration Fees can be expensive. Here are some funding options, so that you don't have to pay out-of-pocket:

Neuroscience Education

Need more Help? Points of Contact

If you have more questions, please email us at caseneurosociety@case.edu, or any of the amazing faculty that supports us!

  • Dr. Ashley Nemes-Baran (CNS Faculty Advisor): adn50@case.edu
  • Dr. David Friel (Neuroscience Major Representative, Neuroscience Department): ddf2@case.edu
  • Dr. Jessica Fox (Neuroscience Major Representative, Biology Department): jessica.l.fox@case.edu