What is Neuroscience?
Neuroscience is the study of nervous systems – how they function to control behavior and physiology, and how they change, such as during development, learning, disease/trauma, and aging. Neuroscience is a very broad discipline that incorporates areas such as biology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, medicine, engineering, and computer science. Neuroscience is among the most rapidly growing scientific disciplines, in large part because it is positioned at the interface of computational/engineering advances and the application of those advances to improve health and medicine.
Career Opportunities in Neuroscience
Students graduating with a strong background in Neuroscience can move forward in several career paths. For example, they can continue their education to pursue a Master’s or PhD degree in a wide range of disciplines; they can work towards a health professional degree (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine); or they can enter the workforce as a research or medical technician, teacher, or pharmaceutical company representative. These careers all involve good-paying, steady jobs in growing fields that encourage life-long learning and exploration. For more information on career opportunities, see: http://www.sfn.org/careers-and-training/career-tools-and-resources.
Salary Trends in Neuroscience
The salaries for students majoring in Neuroscience will vary dramatically, depending on their career path. Those who pursue advanced academic or health profession degrees can earn $60,000 to well over $150,000 per year. Those who move immediately into the workforce as a technician, teacher, or sales rep will start off at more moderate salaries of $25,000-$40,000. Importantly, the broad education and training at the core of the Neuroscience major will position graduates to take full advantage of a wide range of opportunities with strong earning potentials. For more information on salaries, see: http://www.sfn.org/careers-and-training/career-tools-and-resources or http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers.page.
High School Preparation
High school students interested in Neuroscience should take college preparatory courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. If your high school offers courses in psychology, statistics, computer science, or robotics, you should consider taking them as well.
How to Major in Neuroscience
Students interested in obtaining a Major or Minor in Neuroscience (a concentration within the Interdisciplinary Programs Department) should contact the College of Arts and Sciences advising center in 313 Ayres Hall or the Neuroscience Program Director as early as possible so that they may start taking the appropriate prerequisite coursework. Important classes to take early-on include Psychology 110 and 210, and INPG 200, since these provide a broad introduction to the field of Neuroscience. The Neuroscience Minor has been developed so that that it can easily be combined with a variety of majors across many different colleges and departments.
Requirements for Neuroscience
The Neuroscience concentration (30 credit hours total) has four components:
- Prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and psychology.
- Core courses, including BCMB 415 (Neurobiology), INPG 200 (Neuroanatomy), INPG 400 (Special topics; taken twice), and PHIL 345 (Bioethics).
- Lab experience (4 hours), which can be fulfilled through a combination of lab courses and/or independent research.
- Elective courses (15 hours) distributed across three broad areas: behavioral and cognitive neuroscience; integrative neuroscience, and computational and materials neuroscience.
Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships
The broad diversity of UT faculty members associated with the Neuroscience concentration provides students with a wide range of research and clinical opportunities to explore. They can work in research laboratories focused on a range of topics such as cellular neuroscience; learning and memory; sensory processing; aging and dementia; cognitive and motor development; computer modeling and robotics; brain imaging analysis; bio-detection; and materials development supporting nerve growth and prosthetics integration. They can also participate in clinically-oriented activities, including shadowing/research experiences in neurosurgery and neurology, diagnostic brain imaging, and participating in longitudinal clinical research. These activities are distributed across the UT campus, the UT Medical Center, and Oak Ridge National Labs.
Highlights of Neuroscience
High-achieving Neuroscience students can work towards an Honor’s degree in Neuroscience. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Advancing Neuroscience student club, and to get involved in outreach activities such as Brain Awareness Week.
“Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to foster a culture of diversity, to best prepare students for working and competing in the 21st century. Students are encouraged to participate in diverse cultural programs offered. Visit the Center for International Education web site (http://cie.utk.edu/) or Ready for the World web site (http://rftw.utk.edu/) for more information on activities. Students also are encouraged to include study abroad in their academic program. Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.
Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career. Consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.
Academic Plan and Milestones
Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.
To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.
For More Information
Contact: Dr. Rebecca Prosser
F211 Walters Life Sciences Building
The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.