Neuroscience is a departmental major for a bachelor’s degree involving the study of several subjects such as chemistry and psychology that can enable the student to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the peripheral nervous system, including the spinal cord and the brain. A neuroscience major has to study neurophysiology, genetics, cellular biology, neuroendocrinology, neuroanatomy, and molecular biology.
Most neuroscience courses are jointly offered by the school’s psychology and biology departments, mainly because neuroscience does have its orientation in both areas. Students study modern neuroscience foundations from cellular to system levels and how these are applied in psychology and biology. To this end, students of neuroscience are taught to develop research skills and apply these to a project or graduate studies.
Depending on which school the student attends, a neuroscience major may be offered by that school’s department of biology, mathematics and statistics, computer science, psychology, and cognitive and neural systems. Core courses will include principles of neuroscience, computational models of behavior and brain, molecular and cellular neuroscience, and cognitive neuroscience.
Basic requirements of science courses may include physics, chemistry, and psychology. Math courses may include statistics and calculus. Elective courses vary from one school to another and could include sensory and motor neuroscience, signal transduction, neurochemical foundations of behavior, neuroethology, biology of mental disorders, neural plasticity in development and learning, and computational neuroscience.
Employment for the Neuroscience Major
Given all that, can the neuroscience major find employment? While there are opportunities for jobs with pharmaceutical companies and as laboratory technicians, one has to pursue a master’s degree or even a doctorate to be able to conduct specific work in fields related directly to neuroscience which, incidentally, is a popular choice among pre-med students especially those who are going into neurology.
Admittedly, though, neuroscience is an excellent preparation for those who are planning to enter a plethora of field specializations such as psychology, bioscience, physical therapy, speech pathology, brain injury rehabilitation, clinical neuropsychology, neuroscience research, audiology, nursing or gerontology. Additionally, a neuroscience major can go into veterinary medicine and clinical psychology.
There is also work for the neuroscience major in government institutions such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention or the Department of Health, for private laboratories that study disease transmission and animal behavior. The neuroscience major can also work for organizations or companies that develop therapeutics or biomarkers for the identification and the treatment of known neurodegenerative disorders.
Schools Offering Neuroscience as a Major
The top schools offering neuroscience as a departmental major (in no particular order) include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, the California Institute of Technology, Yale University, Stanford University, Henry Mudd College, Columbia and Duke Universities, Pomona College, the Universities of Pennsylvania and Chicago, and Washington and Lee and Vanderbilt Universities.
Michigan State University, Vassar College, Brown University, Bowdoin College, Tufts University, Oberlin College, Lehigh University, Union College, Boston University, Mount Holyoke College, Baylor University, the College of William and Mary, the University of Delaware, Stony Brook University, Ohio Wesleyan University, George Mason University, Temple University, and Franklin and Marshall College also offer neuroscience courses.