Neuroscience PhD Degree Program Information

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Neuroscience program emphasizes training and research on topics involving the brain and nervous system. Learn about program requirements and prerequisites, course topics and career options.

Essential Information

Doctoral-level neuroscience programs guide students into finding an area of specialization in which to conduct research. Areas of focus include neurogenetics, learning and memory, as well as neural development, degeneration and repair. Students perform extensive research and laboratory work throughout the program. These Ph.D. programs take 5-6 years to complete. Applicants must have earned a bachelor's degree and submit GRE scores and letters of recommendation.

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Ph.D. in Neuroscience

Neuroscience Ph.D. students perform critical analyses of contemporary research and learn about everything from the science of addiction to neuroimaging. In addition to coursework, students complete multiple rotations in department laboratories, performing hands-on work and assisting colleagues with research. Core coursework often includes topics in:

  • Anatomy
  • Cellular neurophysiology
  • Connectomics
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Neural development and plasticity
  • Neural dynamics

Popular Career Options

Emerging technologies are interacting with neuroscience to change the way information is collected and streamline the way that research is conducted. For example, recent funding from the National Institutes of Health's DIADEM Competition encouraged researchers to create an automated way of mapping connections between neurons, a process that takes months to do manually. This overlap, called bioinformatics, has been projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to grow faster than most other fields within the field of biological sciences ( Specific career options available for students with a Ph.D. in neuroscience are:

  • Biophysicist
  • Professor
  • Bioinformatician

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

In May 2015, the BLS found that the median annual wage of biophysicists, who perform research in neuroscience, was $82,150. These professionals also had a projected job increase of 8% from 2014-2024, which is faster than average. The industries that hired the most biophysicists were scientific research and development, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, and colleges and universities. Although the BLS doesn't provide statistics specifically for neuroscience professors, the organization did find that postsecondary biological science teachers earned a median annual salary of $75,320 in May 2015.

Students with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience, or a related field, can advance their studies and careers by applying to a neuroscience Ph.D. program. Programs generally offer students numerous areas of focus to pursue in their studies and emphasize research and lab time.

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