Is a Neuroscience Degree Right for You?
A bachelor’s degree in neuroscience is for you if you plan to pursue a long term career in the medical field, medical research, or continue to medical school. Bachelor’s degrees in neuroscience feature course work that explores the life sciences in depth, emphasizing the brain’s interactions with the rest of the body at the molecular, cellular, and system levels.
Students in an undergraduate neuroscience program are introduced to key lab and research skills that will be beneficial if they decide to pursue a career in a research or academic setting. The broad science background that you gain in a bachelor’s-level program is also great preparation for professional programs in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, psychiatry, and more. While some neuroscience careers are available to bachelor’s degree holders, most positions require graduate education. You may have limited career opportunities in neuroscience if you do not pursue graduate work.
Advice for Earning Your Neuroscience Degree Online
Students looking for an accredited online bachelors degree in neuroscience should know that few, if any, undergraduate neuroscience programs are offered 100% online. Any high-quality undergraduate education in the natural sciences entails lab work for foundational courses in biology, genetics, chemistry, and organic chemistry, not to mention neuroscience labs. These types of lab-based courses would need to be taught in hybrid format, which is a blend of online and on-campus instruction, so that students can get hands-on experience in labs.
Students who are only interested in 100% online programs may wish to consider an accredited online bachelors degree in psychology that exposes students to cognitive neuroscience as it pertains to the psychology field. In addition, make sure that the institution offering the program is accredited, as it assures that the college meets certain quality standards and also qualifies an institution to offer state and federal financial aid.
Online neuroscience degree programs typically include foundational science courses in chemistry, biology, genetics, organic chemistry, and psychology. Specific neuroscience courses might include:
- Biology of the Brain
- Cellular Neurobiology
- Sensation and Perception
- Behavioral Research
Common Career Paths
Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience include:
- Expected Growth: 14 %
- Average Annual Salary: $43,910
Biological technicians assist scientists with their lab work by setting up lab equipment, keeping it clean and well-maintained, and making sure all the necessary tools are ready and available for experiments. As part of a team, they may be called laboratory assistants, and take a more hands-on role in research, working with laboratory samples, conducting their own tests and experiments, and documenting their analysis of the results alongside trained scientists and researchers.
To work as a biological technician or lab assistant, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience will be particular helpful in a lab researching topics in this field. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from theBLS.
- Expected Growth: 36 %
- Average Annual Salary: $92,180
Medical scientists conduct research to learn more about human health and how it can be improved. They lead medical studies and clinical trials, direct the work of a research team, work with medical samples, and establish research objectives. You will need a Ph.D. in one of the life sciences or a related area, such as neurobiology, to launch a career as a medical scientist, and a degree in medicine is also helpful.
While a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience alone will not qualify you for a medical scientist career, it can lay the groundwork for the necessary future graduate study you will need to do so. Figures above were provided by theBLS.
- Expected Growth: 17%
- Average Annual Salary: $80,615
After working in research or professional practice for a period of time, some neuroscientists decide to transition into teaching. Others continue to conduct research and teach part-time or as a guest lecturer. You will need a Ph.D. or M.D. to work as a postsecondary teacher at a college or university and many of the best institutes will only consider candidates with published research papers in the field of neuroscience. Figures above were provided by theBLS.
- Expected Growth: 24%
- Average Annual Salary: $200,694
Psychiatrists are physicians who are trained to diagnose and treat mental disorders. They combine behavioral and cognitive therapies with chemical therapies to treat patients suffering from a variety of mental health issues. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe medications, a practice that requires a thorough understanding neurophysiology and neurology. Neuroscience is a strong undergraduate focus for students interested in pursuing graduate work toward a career as a psychiatrist. Figures above were provided by theBLS.
- Expected Growth: 27%
- Average Annual Salary: $74,940
Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients for various illnesses and injuries under the direction and supervision of a physician. Pas need a master’s degree to be eligible for this job and many have undergraduate degrees in life science disciplines as well as on-the-job experience as nurses, EMTs, or other healthcare positions. A neuroscience bachelor’s degree could be beneficial if you want to work as a PA under a neurologist or neurosurgeon. Figures above were provided by theBLS.