Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Tuan Tran, Neuroscience Program Director
trant@ecu.edu or neuroscience@ecu.edu

  • You must have completed at least 30 semester hours and have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
  • Although 3.0 is not specified in the catalog, it remains the policy of the neuroscience program.
  • For the neuroscience minor, the minimum GPA is 2.0 and is stated in the catalog.
  • It is in your best interest to examine the major program checksheet so that you take the proper initial courses before declaring the major. 
  • Once you have met credit hour and GPA requirements, contact Dr. Tran, who will review your records and update your records if you qualify. If applicable, a minor program of study can also be declared as well. I recommend that you consult with the appropriate coordinator or adviser for that minor program of study first before declaring the minor.
  • Incoming freshmen (with less than 30 SH and min GPA requirements) or those not yet qualified will have "Intended Major" shown in their transcripts in Self-Service Banner and in DegreeWorks. After a student is declared, this designation will be removed.
  • Also see Question #3.
  • Lab research courses are considered "Independent Study" courses.
  • This applies to the 5-6 semester hours required for lab research courses. The courses of concern are NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312, and PSYC 4315. There is no particular order for taking them but at least two courses need to be completed. They can be taken in the summer, fall, or spring pending availability of mentor supervision.
  • You cannot simply register for these courses, as they require:
    • A faculty mentor that agrees to supervising you in his/her research lab.
    • The course to be made available in Banner by Dr. Tran.
    • A course request initiated by your mentor using an online submission process. The course request will be routed to the student, Dr. Tran, and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies for review/approval. Have your mentor contact me about the process if he/she is uncertain how it works.
  • By taking these courses, you will not only earn course credit, but also acquire research experience in an area of interest. The intent is to help you acquire and develop skills in scientific methodology, as a career in neuroscience or any related scientific discipline requires you to have a scientist's aptitude for conducting research effectively.
  • You should start seeking out a faculty mentor as soon as possible or upon declaring the major (knowing that you will commit to completing this major).
  • These research courses are prerequisites for Neuroscience Thesis courses (see Question #4). The thesis courses are taken during your senior year, so do not procrastinate until your senior year - this is a turn off to faculty, as they must put forth much labor and devotion into training you and mentoring you. They reserve the right not to admit you in their lab; consider lab research to be a privilege, not a right. It is in your best interest to work with the same mentor to not only fulfill the research requirement but also to allow this experience to carry you into your senior thesis project. 
  • See the Contributing Faculty page for a listing of mentor names and their contact information.
  • You may contact Dr. Tran for advice on finding a mentor that matches your interests.
  • Have your mentor initiate an Independent Study course request using this link.
  • If your mentor is not familiar with this process, then have him/her contact Dr. Tran.
  • Provide your mentor the course prefix and number, semester/year, credit hours, and Banner ID.
  • Work with your mentor in completing the required information. Dr. Tran has samples to provide upon request.
  • Make note that your lab work schedule is determined between you and your mentor. Although, the class schedule (days and times) may appear on your official schedule or show up as TBD, you follow the schedule that is worked out with your mentor.
  • For grade reporting purposes, Dr. Tran will appear as the instructor, unless arranged differently with your mentor.
  • A new request must be submitted for each course.
  • Dr. Tran will contact your mentor at the end of the semester for your final grade and then submit your grade to the Registrar on the mentor's behalf.

  • As stated in Question #2 the research courses are prerequisites for Neuroscience Thesis courses (NEUR 4950 and NEUR 4951). These two courses are completed over two semesters. You may enroll in them during the summer, spring, or fall depending on your graduation time frame and your mentor's availability.
  • A senior thesis project is a paper, conference presentation, or other qualified output product (e.g., manuscript, grant), which senior undergraduates may work on, in order to present the results of a major, independent research project. Unlike most term projects, papers, and lab reports written in undergraduate courses, a senior thesis addresses questions or issues for which no known or generally accepted answers exist. The senior thesis allows you to explore your aptitude for research within a more extended and individualized framework than that generally afforded by face-to-face courses. It deepens your participation in the University's community of scholars through your close contact with your thesis mentor (and committee members if applicable), other interested faculty, graduate and postdoctoral students, and fellow undergraduate researchers. As the most widely recognized and respected hallmark of undergraduate distinction, a senior thesis demonstrates to graduate schools, fellowship committees, and employers your intellectual achievement and sophistication as well as your initiative and self-discipline. A senior thesis provides you with the opportunity to draw upon everything you have learned in your college experience and make a significant contribution of your own.
  • You must be a rising senior or have senior standing in order to qualify for conducting a senior thesis. As in Question #3, your mentor must initiate an Independent Study course request online. The same grade reporting processes in Question #3 apply.
  • Your thesis mentor ultimately decides the requirements for the thesis project. Project options are provided in the sample form (contact Dr. Tran) and your mentor will detail the requirements.
If this happens, then contact Dr. Tran for possible course substitutes. Finding, being approved of, and taking a substitutable course requires forethought and planning - do not procrastinate to ask or seek information. You will need to meet with Dr. Tran or contact him to arrange for course substitutes. He will process your request via DegreeWorks.
By default, Dr. Tran appears as the instructor for these courses. He makes these courses available for registration each semester (normally in a single pass), saving labor in assigning specific course instructors (mentors). At the end of the semester, you are responsible for reminding your actual mentor to submit your final grade to Dr. Tran (via email is fine).
  • Yes, pending review of it's feasibility by Dr. Tran.
  • Also see Question #5 regarding the process.
The courses offered by these departments are bound by different sets of rules. You will need to refer to each department's website for (1) more information about course restrictions and policies, (2) filling-out/submitting any special form required, and/or (3) placing out of a course (in the case of math). The following links are current as of 05.20.2015: (1) Biology, (2) Chemistry, (3) Math. These are the contacts: Chemistry (Jessica Fulford - fulfordj@ecu.edu), Biology (Ginger Grimes - grimesg14@ecu.edu), Math (Sandra Godley - godleysa@ecu.edu).
  • You must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all work in order to take more than 18 credit hours (maximum of 21 SH).
  • Contact Dr. Tran via email and provide the course prefix and number, the CRN for that course, and your Banner ID. He will then contact the Center for Academic Services on your behalf.
  • In the semester or summer term of graduation, a student with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 may take extra hours with the approval of Dr. Tran AND approval from the Center for Academic Services.
  • Finally, a student may take seven (7) semester hours each summer term or a maximum of 14 semester hours without restrictions. With the written approval of the Center for Academic Services, a student who has earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all work may take extra hours.
In general, you are not automatically assigned a new advisor when you suddenly switch your major. Arrange a meeting with your new advisor or contact him/her. Have your new advisor update your records. For some departments, a program coordinator is the person you initiate contact with. Specifically for neuroscience majors/minors, the update occurs during your meeting with Dr. Tran or via email communication with him.
  • A class restriction means that you are taking a course above your current classification. For example, a freshman student trying to enroll in a 4000-level course is not allowed to do so without special approval from the department offering the course. Students are allowed to register for courses one level above their classification.
  • For neuroscience majors/minors, the Independent Study courses were originally designed for students at least in their junior year. However, under certain circumstances (e.g., your mentor requires your services immediately and you happen to be a freshman), this restriction may be lifted. You need to contact Dr. Tran beforehand to get the restriction lifted.
  • Advising week is normally scheduled in mid-October and mid-March. See the current semester in the university calendar specific dates.
  • Dr. Tran will send out email an announcement for reserving an advising meeting a week or two before these dates.
  • PINS will only be given to students that have met with Dr. Tran during advising week, unless their schedules were pre-approved during a prior meeting. For all other matters not related to registration, then contact Dr. Tran to arrange for a meeting.
Recommendation 1: Start your email with "Dr./Professor/Mr./Ms. __________," and end it with "Sincerely", "Regards", or "Thanks/Thank you" and your name.
Recommendation 2: Avoid texting/urban dictionary language, spell-check questionable words, and apply proper grammar before you submit your email.
Recommendation 3: Avoid capitalizing entire words (unless necessary) as this exudes a negative emotional tone.
Recommendation 4: Be careful of what you say. If it doesn't need to be expressed, then it's best not expressed.
Contact Dr. Tran via email and provide:
1. Course prefix and number.
2. CRN for that course.
3. Banner ID.

He will make the request to the Registrar on your behalf. For additional exceptions and conditions, see the Registrar's website.

  • These courses are restricted to seniors.
  • You must first meet the prerequisites for each capstone course.
  • Some exceptions may be made at Dr. Tran's discretion.
  • Contact Dr. Tran to be registered.
  • Each course is offered once per academic year unless you are notified otherwise.
  • Contact or see Dr. Tran about reviewing your record through DegreeWorks. If any course substitutions or entries need to be made, then he'll do so. However, you will need to take the initiative to contact him and not wait on this matter.
  • Apply for graduation through the Registrar's website or any other current electronic means available.

See the forms page on the Registrar's website. Download and fill-in the "Permission to Take Courses at a US University or College Form". Turn it in to Dr. Tran for a signature then submit it to the Registrar's office before you enroll in the other school.

If you run into any of these error codes during registration, then email Dr. Tran and he'll do what he can (do see Question #8 if applicable). Again, like in previous questions, always provide the course prefix/number and CRN, along with the error code to help him process your request. Otherwise, there will be delays.

Some common restriction codes are:

  • Closed: This normally means seating capacity has been reached; Dr. Tran cannot lift this restriction.
  • Pre-Requisite or Test-Score: Have you met the pre-requisite(s) for the course yet? See the course catalog if you're not sure ("P" is the legend for pre-requisite). Also note that if you're in the middle of taking a pre-requisite course, then the system will not recognize that you've met the pre-requisite (you really haven't completed the course yet). In this case, just email Dr. Tran about this situation (particularly for PSYC and NEUR courses). If it's BIOL or CHEM, then he cannot help you - see Question #8.
  • Class: See Question #11.
  • Consent of Instructor / Special Approval: If Dr. Tran isn't the instructor, then he cannot lift this permission for you. Contact the pertinent instructor or department about it.
  • Major: Some courses are restricted only to majors. For PSYC courses, he can lift restrictions. For BIOL and CHEM, there's likely nothing you can do about it. However, do contact the relevant department regarding that course anyway and also ask if there are alternative sections for non-majors.