Neuroscience focuses on understanding the central and peripheral nervous systems that control human senses, behavior and thought. Read on to learn about job duties, academic requirements, employment outlook and earnings for this field.

Is Neuroscience for Me?

Career Overview

As a biomedical science discipline, neuroscience aims to understand the workings of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and nerves. Neuroscientists study everything from proteins and nerve cells to memory and cognition. If you pursue this career, you may focus on emotional behavior, brain development, aging, stress or other neurological functions to better understand the human condition. You can use your knowledge to improve and find new treatments for a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, stroke and schizophrenia. A strong scientific background, coupled with a fascination of human psychology, is necessary for success in the neuroscience field.

Employment Options

As a neuroscientist, you could work as a professor within medical schools or research universities, teaching neuroscience and conducting investigations. Or, you could work as a research scientist for private research institutions or government agencies, like the National Institutes of Health. If you focus on medical or clinical neuroscience, you may work in hospitals and industrial settings, focusing on patients and treatment methods.

Alternatively, you may qualify for administrative positions within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Entry-level job opportunities may be found within industry and related allied health fields, including such positions as biomedical lab technician or pharmaceutical sales representative, for example.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

If you're interested in becoming a neuroscientist, employment and earnings potential appear promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for medical scientists, including neuroscientists, are projected to grow by 13% between 2012 and 2022, which is as fast as the national average for all occupations ( Biochemists and biophysicists should experience employment growth of 19% during that same period. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for biochemists and biophysicists was $81,480 in 2012. Medical scientists earned $76,980.

How Can I Become a Neuroscientist?

Education Programs

You can study neuroscience at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. A bachelor's degree in neuroscience can prepare you for many entry-level careers; however, a doctoral degree is generally required in order to work as a neuroscientist. Entry into a neuroscience doctoral degree program requires a bachelor's degree in a biological, physical or behavioral science discipline. Though not generally required for admission, a master's degree in the field is designed to provide additional advanced-level training in preparation for doctoral studies or professional employment.

Topics of Study

Your core courses within a bachelor's degree program emphasize physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, while upper-level neuroscience courses generally include neurophysiology, cognition, neurobiology, clinical neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. Bachelor's degree programs typically require you to gain research experience within university laboratories, and some schools offer work-related experience through internships.

Graduate-level courses can include cellular neurobiology, ethics, neuropharmacology, molecular neurobiology, research statistics and grant writing. To earn the doctoral degree, you need to pass oral and written examinations and complete a researched dissertation project. The typical duration of a neuroscience doctoral degree program averages 5-6 years.


Many schools offer further concentration options at the graduate level, such as in molecular biology, systems neuroscience, pharmacology and clinical neuroscience. Dual degree programs are also available at the undergraduate and graduate levels of study. For instance, you may consider earning a 5-year combined bachelor's and master's degree in neuroscience. Such programs generally require seminar courses and research projects, in addition to standard undergraduate coursework. At the graduate level, you may pursue a dual Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Medicine (Ph.D./M.D.) degree, which involves medical training and dissertation research to prepare you for a career in academic medicine or clinical research.

Related Articles for Neuroscience

  • Best Neuroscience Undergraduate Programs

    Neuroscience programs can train you in the rehabilitation of traumatic brain injuries or in the analysis of the biochemical basis of behavior. Read on for information on three top undergraduate neuroscience programs.
  • Online Neuroscience Courses

    Neuroscience includes the study of human behavior, brain development and treatment of illness and disease. Learn about available courses and degrees and online study options.
  • Play Like a Neuroscientist with Cognitive Fun

    There are plenty of online games that will make you use different aspects of your intellect. But one site, Cognitive Fun, has a database of tests and activities that were developed to be used in cognitive neuroscience research. Find out more about...
  • What are the Best Psychology Graduate Schools in the U.S.?

    Those who complete graduate programs in psychology can qualify to teach, research or practice in fields including neuroscience, clinical psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology and developmental psychology. This...

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • Criminal Justice Degree Options - Video

    Thinking about earning a degree in Criminal Justice? You're not alone. Many students are drawn to these programs by the diverse career opportunities available to graduates. From criminologists to corrections officers and forensic scientists to FBI agents, Criminal Justice graduates play a vital role in public safety. That is not to mention the wealth of positions available for police officers, detectives, paralegals, court reporters and other professionals involved in preventing and prosecuting crime. Learn more about whether a Criminal Justice degree program may be right of you.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Indiana Wesleyan University

    Indiana Wesleyan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Indiana Wesleyan University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford
  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • CDI College

    CDI College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at CDI College:

    Campus Locations:

    • Anywhere: Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey