How Advanced a Degree do I need in Neuroscience?

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Neuroscience is similar to medicine concerning the assortment of specialties. There are specialists in cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, nephrology, orthopedics, urology, and the list continues. Neuroscience has many branches also. There is cellular, molecular, cognitive, behavioral, computational, and clinical neuroscience, as examples.

In medicine, you need a Doctor of Medicine or M.D. In neuroscience, you can choose a specific field without earning a doctorate. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum to break into the profession. There are Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees in neuroscience. However, the latter is more popular. A science program will likely have more biology and chemistry courses, as well as advanced mathematics. Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree should opt for a science curriculum.

Before embarking on your search for colleges and universities, students should have a strong foundation of biology, chemistry, and physics classes in high school. Calculus is another class you should excel in before college. Biology courses at the bachelor’s level, for example, study the importance of cells, genetics, chromosomal theory, and nucleic acids. Chemistry and an accompanying lab explore electrochemistry, inorganic and organic compounds, and nuclear chemistry.

Your undergraduate degree will afford job opportunities. In 2019, a major west coast university posted a job for a Neuroscience Research Assistant. The position is within the School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. The school desires a B.A. or B.S. in neuroscience, human biology, biomedical engineering, or psychology.

There are jobs in the private sector, for example, in the pharmaceutical industry. Again, a biotechnology company involved in developing drugs for the treatment of cancer, regenerative processes, and immunological diseases required a research associate. Eligible candidates need a major in neurobiology, biology, or bioengineering, plus experience in a laboratory setting.

For individuals who do not want to confinement in a lab, there are job opportunities in sales. A company based in New York seeks a neuroscience sales specialist. A division of this pharmaceutical corporation offers medications for schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. The posting stipulates a bachelor’s degree, plus two years of healthcare sales experience. It seems logical that a neuroscience degree would benefit one’s understanding of therapeutic products.

Neuroscience jobs with a master’s degree are generally at universities or medical centers. The latter associated with prominent learning institutions. Many of these positions exist in research as an associate or laboratory technician. The University of Texas, for example, posted a job in 2019 for Special Research Associate to perform various tasks. The preferred degree is a master’s in neuroscience or biology.

Again, the pharmaceutical or biopharmaceutical industry is a place to use your degree. Regeneron is a significant contributor to research and pharmaceuticals since 1988. The company focuses on ophthalmology, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, dermatitis, pain, and infectious diseases. Their neuroscience department seeks an R&D Associate with a Master’s degree in biochemistry, biology, or neuroscience and no experience.

The next step on the educational ladder is a Ph.D. The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that in 2017 there were 15,550 doctorates in neurobiology and neuroscience. Of this figure, 14,600 had jobs, and 13,800 had full-time employment. Over the years, the predominant place of work was learning institutions, namely, in university research and professorship roles. However, the NSF reported in 2017 that a shift occurred. Recently published data reflect that 42% of doctorates in science and engineering work in the private sector. Whereas 43% work in educational institutions. From this information, it seems evident that more doctoral graduates discover job prospects in biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

In 2017, only 23% of science Ph.D.s had a tenured position in academic-a 10% drop since 1997.

Despite these statistics, a perusal of jobs on sites, such as Indeed, reveal employers as UCLA Health, University of New Mexico, Duke University, and Princeton. Numerous positions are available in cancer research centers, public health systems, children’s hospitals, independent research labs, and neuroscience institutes.

Individuals considering a career in any neuroscientific research will benefit from a doctorate. Most institutions will require one. There are research assistant opportunities whose minimum qualification in education is an M.S. in biology, biochemistry, or neuroscience. Whereas, Kent State University Brain Health Research Institute posted a job for a clinical researcher with a Ph.D. in neuroscience or epidemiology.


Your career goals predicate your degree level. Job boards are a valuable source to see what qualifications you need in different sectors. A mentioned above, a bachelor’s degree may suffice. Therefore, saving you years of academics and tuition dollars. Instead, you could be working and earning a decent salary. At least one comparable to what you’d make with a master’s or doctorate.

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