Neuroscience with a Graduate Degree

Important Steps to a Neuroscience Career with a Graduate Degree 

 Take the right courses, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats)

  • Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience Learning
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Lab course in Physiological or Cognitive Psychology
  • Seminar in Physiological or Cognitive Psychology

It is critical to do well in your courses. Graduate and Medical School selection committees often look at:

  • Overall GPA.
  • Psychology GPA minor (if you have one).
  • GPA last two years in college GPA.
  • Maintaining a high GPA from your freshman year on
  • If you do not get an A or B in a course you should probably repeat the course.

Get involved in research

  • You can get involved in research as part of Independent study course and thus earn credit hours and possibly increase your GPA if it counts as a graded course or volunteer.
  • An advantage to working in a lab is that you get to know a faculty member who can write you a strong letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply to graduate or medical school. Given you need more than one letter of recommendation, it is probably best to work in two different labs as an undergraduate.
  • Get even more involved in research by doing a Senior Honors thesis or some other research where you can get your name on a conference presentation or journal publication. This kind of recognition is rare for an undergraduate and will really boost your standing when you apply to graduate or medical school.

Do a neuroscience-related internship

  • By doing an internship you can again show your high level of motivation. This internship can be with an on-campus clinic/organization or off-campus clinic/organization dealing with neuroscience.

Develop critical skills

  • There are a number of skills you can develop in addition to what you learn in classes and by conducting research-- computers, writing, and oral communication skills.

Get involved in extracurricular activities related to neuroscience issues

  • Among others, you can volunteer at a medical hospital or clinic that involves neuroscience issues. This involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in neuroscience. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.

Be active in neuroscience organizations

  • This can include a Neuroscience club on campus. Once again, this involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in neuroscience. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.

Get work experience in a neuroscience context if you can

  • It is not critical that you are employed in a neuroscience context (such as those listed above) as an undergraduate, but if you can get such a job that is a real bonus.

Shadow one or more neuroscientists or doctors

  • Shadowing gives you insight into the life of a neuroscientist or medical professional and demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in neuroscience or medicine.

Interact with your Professors

  • It is very important that you start to interact with Professors right away. This can occur by making contributions in class or just going up to your Professors and having a conversation about issues in the field.
  • These interactions can lead to being able to work in a Professor's research lab, hearing about job opening that may be available in the Psychology department, and a letter of recommendation.
  • Remember, if a faculty member does not really know you or had you in one class, there is a lower likelihood that the Professor will agree to write a letter for you or knows you well enough to write a letter.
  • There are two important things to keep in mind with regard to letters of recommendation. First, a short letter of recommendation from a faculty member who does not know you well can sometimes be worse than no letter at all. Second, It is almost always better to have a letter of recommendation from a full-time Professor than an Instructor. For better or worse, the former simply has higher status than the latter.
  • Other scoutiescareersinpsychology.org links:

    Click here to return to the scoutiescareersinpsychology. org homepage.

    Click here to return to the Careers by Category page.

    Click here to return to the Neuroscience page.

    Click on the links below to read about other Neuroscience careers that only require an undergraduate degree:

    Medical Lab Technician

    Pharmaceutical Sales

    Government Worker

    Click on the links below to read about other Neuroscience careers that require a graduate degree:

    MA/MS Experimental Psychology

    Medical Doctor

    Neuroeconomist

    PhD in Experimental Psychology

Here is an article that discusses issues related to those above:
http://houseofmind.tumblr.com/post/5248201791/how-to-become-a-neuroscientist