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Neuroscience Degree

Neuroscience is the study of the central and peripheral nervous systems. These systems are responsible for and control the human senses, behaviors, and thoughts.
There are a number of degree options available for those interested in this discipline starting at the undergraduate level and going up to the doctoral level.

What is Neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the science and study of the nervous systems. This comprises everything from:

  • How the nervous systems function
  • How they control behavior
  • Their effect on physiology
  • How they change and adapt
  • What changes they go through during development, learning, aging, disease, trauma, etc.

The field of neuroscience is very broad in its applications and the study of neuroscience is interdisciplinary. It is closely related to fields such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, and medicine.
Today, neuroscience is one of the most rapidly growing scientific disciplines and the outcomes of research carried out in this field are likely to have far-reaching ramifications.

Types of Neuroscience Degree Programs

Due to the extensive amount of lab work and research requirements of this discipline, online neuroscience degree programs and courses are very rare. Students interested in online options in the field may be able to find some stand-alone introductory courses in the field.

Bachelor’s Degree in Neuroscience

Bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience are interdisciplinary and provide students with a strong foundation in the core sciences and related mathematical courses required in the field. These programs aim to develop the quantitative, statistical, mathematical, and computational skills required in neuroscience. Students can also expect to carry out lab work and research.
These programs typically take four years to complete.
Entry Requirements

  • A high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Most programs require students to have taken courses in chemistry, biology, and calculus in high school
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Minimum GPA requirements are determined by individual programs

The courses typically taken in bachelor’s degree programs in this discipline include:

  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Neurochemistry of behavior
  • Biology computational tools
  • Learning and neurobiology
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Molecular biology of cells

Master’s Degree in Neuroscience

A master’s degree in neuroscience is an essential step for those interested in pursuing doctoral studies in the field. The program is lab work and research intensive, and aims to help students develop their analytical science skills in addition to their general competence in neuroscience and its sub-areas.
Some programs also allow students to choose an area of concentration for their degree. Some concentration areas available may include neuropsychiatric disorders, developmental neurosciences and synaptic transmission.
This program typically takes two years to complete.
Entry Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree in one of the physical, behavioral or biological sciences
  • Minimum GPA requirements are determined by individual programs
  • Letters of recommendation

The curriculum for master’s programs in neuroscience is research intensive and involves a lot of lab work. Students can expect to further their understanding of neuroscience through an interdisciplinary approach to the field.
The precise courses taken in master’s degree programs are likely to vary depending upon a student’s chosen area of concentration. Some of the courses students can expect to take include:

  • Neurophysiology
  • Nervous system function and structure
  • Neural mechanisms
  • Language and the brain
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Neurobiology
  • Embryology
  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Biostatistics

Phur.D. in Neoscience

A doctorate degree in the field of neuroscience is intended for those individual who wish to seek positions in research or academia. Students will be required to choose an area of specialization within the field on which they will focus their studies. Some of the areas of concentration include neurogenetics, learning and memory, neural development, and degeneration and repair.
The curriculum is very research intensive and requires students to carry out a significant amount of lab work.
These programs typically take 5-6 years to complete.
Entry Requirements

  • A master’s degree in neuroscience or a related discipline
  • Some programs do however consider applicants with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience
  • GRE scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Minimum GPA requirements are determined by individual programs

The curriculum of these programs involves evaluating contemporary research, carrying out lab work and coursework related to a specific concentration area.
Core coursework is often taken in areas including:

  • Anatomy
  • Cellular neurophysiology
  • Connectomics
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Neural development and plasticity
  • Neural dynamics

Job Prospects and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have data specifically for the field of neuroscience. They do however have data for biophysicists, professionals which carry out research in neuroscience.
The data corresponding to biophysicists is as follows:

  • In 2012, the annual median salary for biochemists and biophysicists was $81,480.
  • The expected rate of employment growth in this field between the years 2012-22 is projected to be 19%. This is much faster than the average rate of employment growth for other professions, which is 11%.
  • The top 10 percent of professionals in this field earned more than $147,350.
  • In 2012, biochemists and biophysicists held about 29,200 jobs in the U.S.
  • The top industries which employed these professionals in 2012 included:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences


Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private


Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing


Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers


Testing laboratories


  • In 2012, the annual medial salary for biochemists and biophysicists in the top five industries in which they worked were:

Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers


Research and development in the physical, engineering,
and life sciences


Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing


Testing laboratories


Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state,
local, and private


Neuroscience is a broad, interdisciplinary field which is concerned with the study of the brain and nervous systems. For those interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience, a bachelor’s degree followed by more advanced qualifications such as graduate and doctorate degrees, are recommended, depending on your particular career goals.



States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:Can you tell me about neuroscience masters programs?

A:In a masters program in neuroscience, students will learn about the functioning and structure of the human nervous system. The program will emphasize theoretical development alongside practical training. Some of the important topics covered in the program are: developmental neuroscience, neuropsychiatric disorders, cognitive neuroscience, neuroplasticity, and research. The curriculum may vary a little from college to college.

Q:What do students learn in neuroscience programs?

A:Students enrolled in neuroscience programs will gain the necessary skills needed for research in this field. Alongside practical learning, the program will help students acquire theoretical knowledge and build concepts. Some of the courses covered in the program may include molecular biology, biochemistry, stem cell biology, immunology, computational and systems biology, statistical genetics, and more.

Q:What is the duration of neuroscience PhD programs?

A:Typically, a PhD program takes around 3-8 years to complete. The duration will depend on the university you choose, and the coursework. The main components of a neuroscience PhD program are: coursework, research study, qualifying examination, and a dissertation. You can check with the prospective schools to find out what the exact program duration is.

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