Field of Study: Neuroscience
Neuroscience programs teach people how the brain and nervous system work. Students learn about cells, molecules, and the role they play in thinking. They study the central nervous system and the biology of nervous disorders. They learn how to apply the science to biomedical engineering.
There's a common saying that we use only 10% of our brain. The truth of the matter is, we actually use ALL of our brain. What scientists are still figuring out is how different parts of the brain work. People who are neuroscientists study what different parts of the brain do and how those different parts "talk" to each other. After all, it's pretty amazing all that the brain does! It thinks, imagines, learns, remembers, and forgets. It tells us when we're hungry and even unconsciously tells our lungs to contract and expand so that we can breathe!
In neuroscience programs, you take courses from several areas, including psychology, biology, and chemistry. You also take courses in genetics and physiology. You study how the brain works, including how people learn and remember. You also study how the brain and the body communicate to each other. In addition, you can study how medicine, drugs, and alcohol affect brain functioning. Depending on your interests, you can study specific diseases that target the brain. These can include depression, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's.
With a degree in neuroscience, you usually work as a researcher or lab assistant. You can work for medical centers, universities, or drug companies. However, most advanced research jobs require a graduate degree for entry into the field.
About 80 schools offer bachelor's degrees in neuroscience. They usually take four years to complete. In some cases, you can go to school an extra year and earn a combined bachelor's and master's degree. In addition, many schools offer graduate degrees in neuroscience. Such programs typically take three to five years after you complete your bachelor's degree. Most people with graduate degrees in neuroscience become professors or researchers.
For this program, schools recommend that you know how to use a computer and the Internet.
You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.
- Probability and Statistics
- Advanced Biology courses
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Advanced Chemistry courses
Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.
Additional requirements at some schools include:
- Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statement
- Undergraduate degree in a science-related field that includes significant course work in inorganic and organic chemistry, biology, physics, and anatomy
- Undergraduate courses in calculus and statistics
Typical course work
This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:
- Anatomy of the Brain
- Biodiversity and Evolution
- Cell Biology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Experimental Psychology
- Human Behavior
- Molecular Genetics
- Neuroscience and Drug Use
- Physiology of the Brain
- Psychology of Learning
- Sensation and Perception
- Systems Neuroscience
Most of your courses will require significant laboratory and research time.
Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:
- Required courses
- Clinical practicum
- Thesis (master's degree)
- Preliminary exams (doctoral degree only)
- Dissertation and dissertation defense (doctoral degree)
Things to know
Many people with a degree in neuroscience choose to go to graduate school in psychology or counseling. However, neuroscience programs usually do not offer course work in social or psychological therapy.
A background in neuroscience is considered excellent preparation for medical school or graduate school in physiological psychology, pharmacology, and additional study in neuroscience.
Most people with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience also get a graduate degree. This allows you to work as a research scientist and professor.
Similar fields of study
- Biological Sciences, General
- Biomedical Engineering
- Biomedical Sciences, General
- Cell Biology
- Clinical Psychology
- Cognitive Science
- Electroneurodiagnostic Technology
- Molecular Biology
- Pharmaceutical Sciences
Careers you may qualify for
Society for Neuroscience
Schools that offer program
Click on the school name to see a list of their programs related to this field of study.
, Located in Southeast
Macalester College - St. Paul , Located in Metro
Mayo Clinic - Mayo Graduate School - Rochester , Located in Southeast
Mayo Clinic - Mayo School of Health Sciences - Rochester , Located in Southeast
University of St. Thomas - St. Paul , Located in Metro