The college requirements for joining the field of psychological neuroscience vary depending on the role. Physicians and surgeons in this field need to have a medical degree, while medical scientists might need both a Ph.D. and medical degree. To work as a lab technician or assistant in this sector, candidates need to have at least a bachelor's degree.
Psychological neuroscience is a highly interdisciplinary approach to the study of brain functions. Programs of study combine the behavioral-based approach of psychology with the laboratory-based approach of neuroscience. This is a heavily research- and health-oriented field in which most careers require a graduate degree; undergraduate degree programs usually are designed as preparation for graduate work.
|Career||Physicians and Surgeons||Medical Scientists||Medical and Clinical Lab Technicians|
|Education Requirements||Medical degree||Ph.D., medical degree, or both||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14%||8%||18% (medical and clinical laboratory technicians)|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$197,700||$93,730||$41,420|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A degree specifically in psychological neuroscience is not usually offered; instead, students wishing to enter this field can major in biology, neuroscience or psychology. A minor, emphasis, concentration or depth area could then be chosen to round out the program of study. These programs also might fall under names like behavioral neuroscience, psychobiology, physiological psychology or biological bases of behavior.
Bachelor's degree programs can be completed in 4-5 years, and students can expect to take courses in a variety of subject areas, including psychology, biology, chemistry and mathematics. Courses related to psychological neuroscience could include study of brain behavior, neural mechanisms and neurobiology.
Master's and Ph.D. Programs
Master's degree programs typically take two years to complete and culminate in a thesis paper or research project. Ph.D. programs take 5-6 years and finish with a dissertation in a student's specific area of research and study. Standard coursework might include:
- Cellular neurophysiology
- Neuropsychology of perception
Doctor of Medicine Programs
Aspiring M.D.s can expect to complete four years of medical school and three or more years in a residency program. The first two years of medical school include classes in human biology, pharmacology, microbiology and ethics. The second two years involve clinical rotations in different areas of medical practice under the supervision of a teaching physician. Students interested in the field of psychological neuroscience can find courses and residency programs in neurology.
A bachelor's degree in this field can be used for a career as a lab assistant or technician, while a graduate degree in psychological neuroscience could open up career options in medicine, research and postsecondary teaching.
Lab assistants or technicians might work for universities, commercial organizations or government agencies. Researchers can find employment in similar organizations, performing research on neurological behavioral issues, emotion processing or other neuropsychological areas. Postsecondary teachers work at junior colleges as well as 4-year universities. Physicians can focus on neurological disorders and treatments at hospitals or be self-employed and own their own practices. An M.D./Ph.D. might conduct clinical trials, turning research into medical applications.
Job Outlook and Salary
Average or faster-than-average growth in the 2014-2024 decade was expected for all career paths in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment of medical and clinical lab technicians was expected to increase 18%, and an 8% increase was projected for medical scientists. The BLS stated that, in May 2015, the average annual salary for medical technicians was $41,420. Medical scientists earned an average of $93,730, and physicians earned an average of $197,700 during that time.
The field of psychological neuroscience is largely dedicated to research and brain function. Those with a medical or Ph.D. degree can sometimes lead clinical trials, where their research findings may eventually be used in practice by medical professionals. Those with bachelor's degrees can work as lab assistants.