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How Do I Become a Neuroscientist?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Education is the most essential step to become a neuroscientist, and you will need to spend at least 14 years in school after successful completion of high school or an equivalent program. Before choosing this profession, you should thoroughly research the field to determine the steps needed to become a neuroscientist. Most students who pursue this career have an early interest in science, and you should focus on science courses as early as high school. Once you have decided on this profession, you may want to consider schools that offer a bachelor's and master's degree in various sciences.

Undergraduate degrees should be in biology, chemistry, physiology, or other scientific disciplines. You will be required to complete general coursework before enrolling in advanced classes, and during this time you should choose as many sciences as allowed. A college adviser may be able to assist you with the appropriate coursework needed to become a neuroscientist. Some courses you may want to consider are cognitive neuroscience, the nervous system I & II, introduction to neuroscience, and diseases and disorders of the nervous system. Most of these classes should prepare you for graduate school, internships, and a career in neuroscience.

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Once you have completed your bachelor's degree in a science of your choosing, you should apply to graduate school and meet with an adviser to discuss the necessary coursework that will help you become a neuroscientist. Classes that you may want to consider include psycholinguistics, neural basis of cognitive control, behavioral endocrinology, cellular and molecular physiology, and genetics. Graduate school usually takes at least two years and is an excellent time to apply to an internship in your field. There are many opportunities to work under an experienced neuroscientist, and this will give you a chance to observe the industry first hand.

Most students who wish to become a neuroscientist continue their education after receiving a master's degree and usually opt to pursue a PhD or medical degree. There are lower level positions that you are qualified for with a lower degree, but in order to increase your job opportunities, you should consider working on a higher degree. This is a highly complex field, and future employers will consider your educational background, work experience, and personal accomplishments. An impeccable academic history will aid you in entering this profession. In addition to education and experience, you should have excellent communication skills and be able to work well with a team.

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