Although no doctoral programs in neurology exist, students can earn a PhD in Neuroscience, which involves the study of the human brain from a biological, physiological, and neurological standpoint. Residency programs in neurology are another option for those pursuing advanced education in this field.
Applicants to the PhD programs need a master's degree in neuroscience or a related field, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and a resume. Some PhD programs allow students to choose an area of specialization, such as synapses, cells and circuits, learning and memory, neural development, neurogenetics, or neuroimaging. Students may have the opportunity to gain teaching experience. In addition to completing a dissertation project, students engage in advanced coursework, lab rotations, and seminars.
Residency programs require students to be a medical school graduate and have a one year medical internship. These programs usually last 3-4 years as they are intended to be the final step for physicians attending medical school.
PhD in Neuroscience
The goal of a PhD program is to prepare students for careers in neurological scientific research. Programs stress clinical practice, as well as the application of theories and principles in a laboratory setting. Common courses are likely covering the following topics:
- Molecular neurobiology
- Neurology and genetics
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Residency Program in Neurology
Neurology residency programs cover the study of neurological diseases and disorders, as well as theories and principles in ambulatory, consultative and rehabilitative patient care. Students explore the fundamentals of brain function on a chemical, neurological, and physical level.
Residencies are often organized into rotations that expose students to essential related topics, such as neuroradiology, neuropathology, neuro oncology, pediatric neurology, inpatient service, and neuromuscular disorders. During a residency, students have the opportunity to attend conferences, teach neurology to medical students, and attend seminars that cover topics such as the following:
- Synaptic transmission
- Cell adhesion
- Nutrition and brain function
- Biochemistry of aging
Popular Career Options
Students with a PhD in neuroscience often gravitate toward careers in academia or research while those who complete a neurology residency program often find work as physicians and surgeons. Other popular options include:
- Neurological scientist
- Technical writer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean salary for physicians and surgeons in the 'all other' category, which includes neurologists, was $197,700. The BLS projected 14% growth in employment for physicians and surgeons in general from 2014-2024, largely due to advancing technology, retirements, career transfers, and the aging baby boomer generation (www.bls.gov).
Although not absolutely essential for employment, neurologists can apply for board certification. To become certified by the American Board of Psychologists and Neurologists (ABPN), which is a part of the American Board of Medical Specialists (AMMS), doctors must pass a nationally standardized exam, as well as be evaluated in terms of professional standing, self-assessment evaluations, cognitive expertise, and clinical practice performance.
Students interested in neuroscience can pursue a PhD in neuroscience or a residency program, if they have graduated from medical school. Graduates with advanced training in neurology can work as professors, scientists, or neurologists.