Professor Lecturing a Psychology Class.


With expert instruction in both cognitive neuroscience and molecular and cellular neuroscience, USD offers you an enriching education that speaks to your curiosity. Take exciting classes and engage in innovative research as you study the brain and the nervous system.

Why Study Neuroscience?

As a neuroscience major at USD, you will take innovative classes and gain hands-on experience as you study the brain and the nervous system. Our program not only provides you with a strong foundation in neuroscience, but also prepares you for the exciting challenges of the field; you'll uncover contemporary issues and problems, study sensation and perception, explore neurobiology and even participate in discussions and presentations that mirror the professional space. You'll also get hands-on research experience, benefiting from our department's state-of-the-art facilities and mentorship from expert faculty.

By specializing in either cognitive or molecular and cellular neuroscience, you'll prepare yourself for your unique path. Whether you are interested in a career or graduate studies in behavioral or clinical neuroscience, biomedical science, clinical neuropsychology, medicine, the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries, physical therapy, science writing or another field, USD will help you get there.

Experience a hands-on education and enter a growing and exciting field as a neuroscience major at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Neuroscience (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Learn about the brain and the nervous system by studying neuroscience. Through this program you'll choose one of two neuroscience subfields – cognitive or molecular and cellular – so you can develop your specialty and prepare for your unique career path and/or graduate study.

Neuroscience: Cognitive Neuroscience (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

As a neuroscience major with a specialization in cognitive neuroscience, you will study the brain and the nervous system with an emphasis on cognitive psychology. Your education will be tailored to your unique interests and goals, focusing on neural bases of mental processes and behaviors.

Neuroscience: Molecular & Cellular Neuroscience (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

As a neuroscience major with a specialization in molecular and cellular neuroscience, you will learn about the brain and the nervous system with an emphasis on biology and physiology. You'll explore the mechanisms that control construction and maintenance of molecular and cellular circuits, preparing you for your unique career path or further education.

Occupational Therapy (B.S./O.T.D.)

Accelerated Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

This 3+3 program is available to current USD students pursuing a B.S. in health sciences with a specialization in clinical studies; a B.S. in kinesiology and sport management with a specialization in exercise science; or a B.S. in neuroscience with a specialization in cognitive neuroscience. The accelerated track will allow the undergraduate program to count 20 hours of the first year of a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree toward the electives in the B.S. degree. The student will complete 100 hours by the end of the third year toward the undergraduate degree.


  Vermillion Main Campus

A minor in neuroscience will help you develop critical thinking and research skills as you learn about the brain and how people think. You'll take classes like Neurobiology, Exploring Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology.

Program Details






Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

Students Utilizing the Driving/Flight Simulators for Research.

In the USD Department of Psychology, students have access to valuable undergraduate research opportunities, studying everything from video games to alcohol use and personality to prejudice.

As a neuroscience major at USD, you will be able to work in labs connected to advanced neuroscience research with a wide variety of faculty who are experts in the field. USD's Department of Psychology, Department of Biology and Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences – housed in the state's only medical school – offer hands-on learning environments and mentorship that enable you to find answers to your questions and gain research experience that sets you apart.

The Department of Psychology is home to a dozen research labs – including brain-monitoring equipment, driving/flight simulators and an instrumented research vehicle. We also run a fully functioning mental health clinic and the Disaster Mental Health Institute, a world-class service and research center.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including a club housed in the Department of Psychology.

Psychology Club

Psychology Club (also called Psi Chi) holds both social and educational events throughout the school year, including a kick-off ice cream social open to all students interested in psychology. 

Psi Chi is a local chapter of the National Honor Society for Psychology, promoting student involvement in ongoing department research and in developing their own research projects and sponsoring psychology-related events throughout the year. Christopher Berghoff, Ph.D., serves as the faculty advisor.

Explore Student Organizations

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in neuroscience.
students looking at a laptop having a discussion with their professor


Expand your understanding of the human mind and behavior as you develop strengths in research, critical thinking, advocacy and service.

Biology academics standing in water holding a net


Research, explore and experience the study of life from the molecule to large biomes in the Department of Biology.

A BBS Student using a dropper during a lab test.

Basic Biomedical Sciences

Housed in the state's only medical school, the Division of Basic Biomedical Sciences creates an environment of innovative and interdisciplinary research aimed at examining human disease.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Department of Psychology. Our faculty serve as experts in their fields and maintain active research involving laboratory-based research, survey studies and/or community-based field research.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Douglas Peterson

Douglas Peterson

Bio Image for Faculty Member Beth Boyd

Beth Boyd

Director-Clinical Psychology Program
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jan Berkhout

Jan Berkhout

Bio Image for Faculty Member Brianna Byllesby

Brianna Byllesby

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member BreAnne Danzi

BreAnne Danzi

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Michael Granaas

Michael Granaas

Director-Human Factors
Bio Image for Faculty Member Logan Hale

Logan Hale

Visiting Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Timothy Ricker

Timothy Ricker

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Raluca Simons

Raluca Simons

Director-DMHI, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Gemma Skillman

Gemma Skillman

Senior Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jong Sung Yoon

Jong Sung Yoon

Assistant Professor
Biology faculty portrait

The Best (and Only) in South Dakota

USD offers the only neuroscience major and the state's only medical school in the South Dakota public university system. Our program draws upon the faculty expertise, facilities and research opportunities available in the Sanford School of Medicine, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Biology, offering you a unique neuroscience education that is not offered anywhere else in the region.
Kami Pearson Sitting at a Lab Station.

Access Exceptional Research Opportunities

One exciting aspect of your USD education is access to research opportunities as an undergraduate student. 

In the Department of Psychology, you'll find expert, world-renowned faculty who serve as mentors for psychology students like you. You'll learn in a space that is designed for exceptional research and service – boasting 12 research labs, the world-class Disaster Mental Health Institute and a psychological services center.

Surprisingly Affordable

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Undergraduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees. 

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.

Student Success Story

Success story Kristen Quigley smiling.
The neuroscience program at USD has allowed me to conduct research with amazing faculty mentors who have gone above and beyond to help me achieve my post-graduate goals.

Kristen Quigley

B.S. Neuroscience, Cognitive, '22

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