Neuroscience is the scientific study of the brain and the nervous system. A branch of biology, it combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, developmental biology, cytology, mathematical modeling, and psychology to further understand learning, memory, behavior, perception, and consciousness. Neuroscience degrees are offered at baccalaureate, master, and doctoral levels, and most careers within neuroscience will require, at minimum, a master’s degree.
A bachelor’s degree in neuroscience is geared towards providing a rigorous academic platform for graduates intending to continue into a research or medical profession. Coursework will include both hard and social sciences, as well as a number of advanced courses in areas such as developmental biology, behavioral and cognitive neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, as well as neurobiology laboratory. Entry to neuroscience programs can be competitive, and also may be separate from admission to the institution in general.
Graduates with a bachelor’s in neurobiology may be able to obtain positions as a research assistant or technician, work in pharmaceutical sales, or as a technical writer.
Master’s programs in neuroscience are largely research-driven and can be earned as either terminal or pre-doctoral degrees. Concentrations become a large, driving force during graduate degrees in this field, often culminating in a thesis that determines completion of the degree. The major branches of neuroscience include neural engineering, neuroanatomy, neurogastronomy, cellular neuroscience, affective neuroscience, clinical neuroscience, neurogenetics, computational neuroscience, and much more.
Career opportunities for graduates with a master’s in neuroscience include: Nurse Practitioner, Physician’s Assistant, Genetic Counselor, Occupational Therapist, Orthotist/Prosthetist, Neural Engineer, Neuroimaging Technician, Speech-Language Pathologist, Biostatistician.
Doctorates in neurobiology come in two forms: a PhD or a Medical Degree. As is typical, a PhD often indicates the intention to remain in academia or research, while a medical degree indicates working in the field. A PhD in Neuroscience largely leads to careers within universities and their research departments as a neuroscientist, though obtaining this type of job is incredibly competitive. Other options include working for a government facility or in a private research industry to develop pharmaceuticals. Careers largely depend on specialization.
An MD or DO is required for any sort of clinical work. With an MD/DO, the neuroscience degrees translate directly into becoming a licensed neurosurgeon or neurologist. Some institutions offer combine PhD and MD programs, broadening the scope of work for graduates. Neuroscience doctorate graduates receive an average salary between $82,000 and $104,000, depending on type of degree and industry.