Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Tuan Tran, Neuroscience Program Director or

  • 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.
  • 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). Neuroscience minors need a minimum of one research course (but normally you do more than one course by convention in research environments).
  • These research courses are essential for the two Neuroscience Thesis courses (see Question #4). Neuroscience minors do not need to complete the thesis sequence.
  • 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.
  • Lab research courses are considered "Independent Study" courses. This applies to the 5-6 semester hours required for lab research. The courses of concern are NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312, and PSYC 4315. Any two of these courses will allow you to meet the minimum requirement for the major (one for the minor). 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. Carry out the following steps:
    • 1. Secure a position in a research lab with a faculty mentor. Those not on this list may also be suitable - contact Dr. Tran for suitability.
    • 2. Notify Dr. Tran via email about who your mentor will be.
    • 3. Dr. Tran sends both the mentor and student detailed instructions for submitting an Independent Study course proposal. Your mentor needs to initiate a course submission. 
    • 4. Read the instructions carefully and do keep in mind that you will not be registered for a course until all parties approve the form. This may take time and there is no guarantee that you will be registered by the scheduled university registration deadlines. Proper planning is needed on the student's part.

You cannot register for a research/thesis course on your own. See FAQ #2.

  • In Question #2 the research courses are essential for providing you fundamental skills that prepare you to carry out the two required 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 #2, your mentor must initiate an Independent Study course request online.
  • Your thesis mentor ultimately decides the requirements for the thesis project. Project options are provided in the Neuroscience Thesis Course Instructions form that Dr. Tran may provide you and your mentor upon request.
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 Degree Works.
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).

What it is: An allowance for using one course to count towards another within the Neuroscience curriculum (core, research, capstone, and structured neuroscience electives). It is NOT a course completion.

How it works: Ask Dr. Tran ahead of time whether or not he would consider COURSE A to count towards COURSE B. If he approves, then you will be instructed to register for COURSE A or let him know whether it has already been taken. He will then submit the electronic paperwork to have the substitution request processed. If the Registrar's office approves of the request, then the substitution will take effect and will be updated in your Degree Works.


1) Substitute CHEM 2770 for BIOL 4880 (neuroscience elective): The latter will catch so that you may work towards completing the 9 or 21 SH of Neuroscience Electives. If you decide to register for a course that requires BIOL 4880 as a pre-requisite, then you still need to take BIOL 4880. Therefore, you really did not complete BIOL 4880.

2) Substitute NEUR 4200 (1 SH) for BIOL 4890 (3 SH). This will leave you with a 2 SH deficit that you still need to complete in order to meet the 9 or 21 SH requirement of Neuroscience Electives.

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 03.29.2017: (1) Biology, (2) Chemistry, (3) Math, (4) Physics. These are the contacts: Chemistry (various people -, Biology (Ginger Grimes -, Math (Sandra Godley -, and Physics (Rhonata Hurwitz -
  • 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 attempting to register for a course above your current classification. Students are allowed to register for courses one level above their classification. Example: Freshman trying to register for PSYC 3310 - you are restricted to 1000 or 2000-level courses and need special permission to take 3000 and 4000-level courses.
  • 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.
  • Some courses are blocked for DE students (distance education students who take online courses). You are not DE but are a traditional undergraduate. As such, these courses may be blocked until some time window has elapsed. Always refer to any emails that I have sent you regarding "Blocked DE Courses" for the current semester to see the time window for traditional undergraduates to register for the course. DE sections are often in the 600, 700, and 800's.
  • Advising week is normally scheduled in mid-October and mid-March. See the current semester in the university calendar for specific dates.
  • Dr. Tran will send out email an announcement for reserving an advising meeting a week or two before these dates using Doodle polling.
  • 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. Students in the Honors Program receive their PINS directly from the Honors College. 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.
  • Undergraduates - You must have completed at least 75 SH in order to apply for graduation. You should try to apply at least one semester ahead of your anticipated graduation date.
  • Apply for graduation through Pirate Port.
  • Contact 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.
  • Many more details can be found on the Registrar's website.

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.
  • Field of Study: 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.

There’s a few different restrictions for ENGL 2201:

  • If you get a Class restriction, it’s because freshmen are not allowed to take ENGL 2201 even if you’ve already taken ENGL 1100.
  • If you get a Student Attribute restriction, it’s because the class is either DE or an Honors section.
  • If you get a Field of Study restriction, it’s because the Neuroscience major doesn’t go with that particular section. For example, if a section is labeled “Writing About the Disciplines-Writing About Arts and Humanities” then it’s only for majors that fall into the Arts and Humanities category. The sections labeled “Writing About the Disciplines--Writing About Multidisciplines” however, is for all majors. Here are the categories that Neuroscience majors can register for:
    • Arts and Humanities
    • Health Sciences
    • Multidisciplines
    • Social Science

This list is current as of 09.20.2017. It comes from THCAS Academic Advising & Resource Center. You need Excel or equivalent to view it properly.

  • Download here.
  • You have two options:

    1. Retain Dr. Tran as your Psychology advisor as well. If so, then simply contact him about your request and he'll update your records.

    2. Not retain Dr. Tran as your Psychology advisor. Go to the Psychology website and locate the current Undergraduate Program Coordinator and he/she will guide you. You may also contact the Psychology Advising Center. Link for this information:

    I frankly don't know and can't remember your registration date. But either type in "Registration Schedule" in the ECU Search Box or go here to the Registrar's Office for the latest schedule. It is based on the number of hours you have COMPLETED, not including how many hours you are working on this semester.

    All undecided students are advised through a MAP (Major Advisement Program) advisor. The MAP advisors are located in 2500 Old Cafeteria Building. Students can call 252.328.1084 to schedule an appointment.

    The Neuroscience Program will not assign a new advisor or drop a student's major. The transferring student must initiate these actions through his/her meeting/communication with a MAP advisor. However, the Neuroscience Program will remove the student from its email distribution list to prevent all future program announcements from reaching the student.

    Alternatively, students may contact the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences (THCAS) Advising & Resource Center at 252.737.4454 ( if they wish to continue majoring in a discipline under the purview of this college. The Center has a system in place for assigning majors and advisors.