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Master's Degrees in Cognitive Neuroscience: Program Information

Programs in cognitive neuroscience are mostly offered at the doctoral level, but a few master's degree programs exist, like a Master of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience or Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. Learn about the program and job options.

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Essential Information

Master's programs in cognitive neuroscience focus on the study of neurological function from a scientific, biological and physiological level. Students are trained in clinical research that can be applied to professional or doctoral work. They also typically engage in academic and laboratory research and will likely have the opportunity to gain some teaching experience as a graduate assistant. Some programs offer the opportunity to focus on a particular area of cognitive neuroscience, such as computational modeling, intelligent systems, neuroplasticity, synaptic transmission and developmental neuroscience.

In order to apply to these 4-year programs, you must have a bachelor's degree, usually in psychology or a closely related field. You'll also often be asked to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and a statement of interest. Some programs may also require you to be recommended or sponsored by a faculty member.


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Master of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience

Coursework in a graduate level cognitive neuroscience program explores the relationship between behavior and the neurological function of the brain and nervous system. Programs are research intensive, allowing for in-depth study of advanced topics. Topics of study usually include:

  • Behavioral and cognitive neuroscience
  • Statistical analysis
  • Human neuroanatomy
  • Research methods
  • Cognitive psychology

Popular Career Options

Many cognitive neuroscience students opt to complete a doctoral program upon graduation. However, if you choose to go straight into the workforce, your master's degree can aid you in finding a research position. Some popular career options include research assistant and technical writer.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 16%, which is slightly faster than the average for all occupations, from 2014-2024 for medical and clinical laboratory technologists, also known as medical laboratory scientists. As of May 2015, the BLS reported, medical and clinical lab technologists made a median annual salary of $60,520. Technical writers, the BLS projected, could expect job growth of 10% during the same decade and made a median annual salary of $70,240.

Continuing Education

Programs in cognitive neuroscience are more common at the doctoral level. A doctoral degree often allows for the widest variety of employment opportunities and potentially higher salaries. While a master's degree may be sufficient for some employment, a doctoral degree will be a valuable asset if you're interested in teaching at the college or university level.

A Master of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience uses clinical research and coursework to prepare students for work as medical and clinical laboratory technologists. Most graduates go on to pursue a doctorate degree in the field to advance their career or work in postsecondary education.

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