Neuroscience is a field involving primarily chemistry and psychology designed to focus on the brain, and its overall impact on both the behavioral and cognitive functions. Neuroscience analyzes the regular functions of the nervous system and what happens when people have neurological, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Different Branches of Modern Neuroscience include:
- Affective Neuroscience: Research is typically carried out on laboratory animals and looks at how neurons behave in relation to emotions.
- Behavioral Neuroscience: The study of the biological bases of behavior and how the brain affects it overall.
- Cellular Neuroscience: The study of neurons which includes their form and physiological properties at cellular level.
- Clinical Neuroscience: Clinical neuroscience analyzes the disorders of the nervous system.
- Cognitive Neuroscience: The study of higher cognitive functions that exist in humans and their “neural bases.” Cognitive neuroscience gathers information from linguistics, neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science. Cognitive neuroscientists can take two broad directions; behavioral/experimental or computational/modeling.
- Computational Neuroscience: Learning to understand how brains compute. This includes computers to simulate and model brain functions, along with applying techniques from mathematics, physics, and other fields to study brain function.
Careers in Neuroscience
The career you manage to land in the neuroscience field will depend heavily on your education level. Popular jobs in neuroscience can range from research to becoming a practicing doctor.
- Research Assistant
- Laboratory Technician
- Health Educator
- Pharmaceutical Sciences Manager
- Research Scientist
- Clinical Psychologist
- Medical Writer
- Physician Assistant
Top 6 Colleges for Neuroscience in 2022
Take a look at the schools with the 6 top neuroscience programs this year!
The curriculum in neuroscience at Duke University emphasizes both discovery and learning throughout the field, with a variety of offerings that include learning experiences that stay up to date with the growth of neuroscience and its relation to daily problems in the world. The undergraduate curriculum is taught by faculty from many departments, but primarily the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and the Department of Biology. Both of these departments are included in the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.
Three levels of analysis instructed at Duke according to the School’s Website:
- Molecules within the cells of nervous systems.
- Neural circuits for which cells are organized and interconnected.
- Behaviors that emerge from the functions of neural circuits.
The Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience at Duke University offers Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Interdepartmental (IDM), and minor degrees.
University of Rochester
The University of Rochester has one of the oldest as well as one of the most distinguished programs in neuroscience in the United States. Something the neuroscience department at Rochester is noted for are valiant researching efforts among the faculty and students. Qualified graduates are highly encouraged to become involved in research projects at the university. Research experience can be valuable in preparation for postgraduate or medical school, and of course employment!
Learn about some Summer Research Fellowship Opportunities at Rochester:
- Bilski-Mayer: The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Rochester awards a few students each year with $5000 for the summer that can be used towards researching efforts. Students are also nominated by their faculty advisor.
- deKiewiet: Neuroscience majors at Rochester are also eligible for the deKiewiet Summer Research Fellowship, in which students will receive a stipend and University housing for 10 weeks during the summer between junior and senior year.
- Meliora: 5 Meliora summer research fellowships are offered to students of underrepresented minorities and/or first generation. A $5000 stipend will be offered to each of the 5 students, and the goal is to increase access to research opportunities for students who have not yet had the experience.
The program of neuroscience at Vanderbilt University offers both a major and minor within the College of Arts and Sciences. The program is also affiliated with the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, to help integrate neuroscience training and research across all of the appropriate academic units. The major in Neuroscience is usually designed to fulfill a pre med curriculum, and to provide preparation for students who are looking to pursue graduate work in neuroscience or related fields like biology and psychology. The major will also use expertise from several departments and schools within the University to provide a comprehensive background in the basic science of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Students will also gain a strong foundation in the fundamentals of neuroscience and psychology.
Other Details about the Neuroscience Program at Vanderbilt listed on the website:
- Neuroscience is the 3rd largest major in the College of Arts & Science at Vanderbilt University.
- Neuroscience majors have been accepted to the most competitive medical schools in the country, with an average of 72% of first-time applicants accepted to medical school in 2016-2018.
- Neuroscience was the most popular major represented in the 2018 Pre-Med Applicant Class.
- The Honors class continues to be one of the largest in the college.
Similar to the University of Rochester, Colgate University has one of the oldest neuroscience programs in the country, it is one of the first two ever! Since 1972, Colgate has made it a mission to stay on top with the developments in the neuroscience field and relay back as best as possible within the curriculum. Research is highly emphasized at Colgate, with seniors in the major having a requirement to conduct research with at least one faculty member.
Many Colgate students lead successful research efforts, with students becoming co-authors on conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications. Colgate faculty teaching in the neuroscience program are drawn from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and the Department of Biology. Majors can also expect to take additional courses in the fields of molecular biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, philosophy, and physics. Safe to say it helps if you really enjoy learning about science and math primarily!
Common Careers Graduates have Chosen after Graduating in Neuroscience at Colgate:
- Human and Veterinary Medicine
- Biomedical Research
- Clinical Psychology
- Science Writing
- Genetic Counseling
- Public Health Administration
The undergraduate major of neuroscience at Northwestern University is focused on a variety of diverse topics for main fields including research, medicine, the biotech and other industries, science journalism, and patent law.
Throughout the neuroscience program at Northwestern, students can expect to gain:
Strong Intellectual Foundation
- A deep understanding of the structure and function of nervous systems, the mechanisms by which the brain generates behavior, as well as the history, major ideas, and research approaches used in Neuroscience. This will be done through coursework covering molecular mechanisms that control brain development and function through analysis of complex human behavior.
- Additional knowledge and experience in a discipline aligned with Neuroscience through coursework in a chosen field.
- An impressive foundation of basic knowledge in Math, Chemistry, Physics, and Physiology through Related Coursework.
Research, Critical Thinking, and Communication Skills
- An understanding of the methods used to study the nervous system. These include the design, analysis, and interpretation of experiments using specific techniques, and the strengths and limitations of the techniques.
- The ability to evaluate published scientific literature.
- The opportunity for each student to conduct independent research.
- The ability to make effective arguments and communicate clearly. Both orally and in writing.
Ethical Issues in Neuroscience
- Learning to become well-informed consumers of scientific information.
Neuroscience faculty at Oberlin College are as determined as ever when it comes to exploring the field, pursuing these main questions:
- Why do we act the way we do?
- How does aging affect memory?
- What is the neurobiological basis of addiction?
- How is sensory information translated into meaningful perceptions?
The Oberlin neuroscience programs offers great research opportunities, where students use a variety of different methods such as computational modeling, chemogenetics, optogenetics and human EEG in laboratory classes.
Featured Courses Within the Neuroscience program:
- Environmental Toxicology and Global Health: This neuroscience course explores the public health’s contributions to how people are impacted by individual and community health outcomes. Students will look at the ethics of the global health system, as well as some factors that play a role in its function.
- Introductory Neuroscience Lab: This introductory lab course will expose Oberlin students to a wide variety of current and efficient research techniques employed by neuroscientists all over the world.
Departmental Goals for the Neuroscience listed on the school’s website include:
- Basic knowledge of neuroscience.
- Depth of knowledge in neuroscience.
- Some basic and advanced laboratory techniques
- Scientific critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills.
- Scientific writing and oral communication skills.
What’s the Best Neuroscience Program for You?
Now that you’re a bit more familiar with schools that have some of the country’s top neuroscience programs, which one seems most impressive and why? As always, good luck with applications!