Neuroscience students at North Central College studying samples in the lab.

Is Neuroscience a Good Major?

Reviewed by Jacob Imm

Aug 05, 2022

Is neuroscience a good major?

If you like science and want to learn more about neuroscience as a college major, read on! 

What is neuroscience?

There are many mysteries of the brain that neuroscience researchers seek to understand: How do humans experience consciousness? How does the brain work? What are the underlying causes of neurological disease and psychiatric disorders? 

Neuroscience—an interdisciplinary study of the nervous system—advances the understanding of human thought, emotion, and behavior. Neuroscientists use various tools to examine molecules, nerve cells, networks, and brain systems to gain a better understanding of how the nervous system affects human health and behavior.

The study of neuroscience seeks to understand how neural circuits and neurons work in relation to a person's behavior, memory, perception, nervous system, and various daily and vital functions. 

Some specialty areas of neuroscience are:

  •  behavioral neuroscience (the biological basis of behavior in humans and animals); 
  • molecular neuroscience (the biology of the nervous system using molecular biology, molecular genetics, and protein chemistry); 
  • cognitive neuroscience (focuses on mental processes) 
  • computational neuroscience (using mathematical tools to investigate brain function). 

Neuroscience is also related to neurology, which is the medical field that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases. Learn more about the differences in neurology vs neuroscience from our related blog.

Why is neuroscience important?

Neuroscience affects many, if not all, human functions, but it also contributes to a better understanding of a wide range of neurological disorders, common medical conditions, and addictions. According to Medical News Today, these are some common diseases studied by neuroscientists: 

What should I consider before majoring in neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the perfect major for those who are curious about the mind and body and want to prepare for a variety of science and medical careers. A neuroscience major allows students to tailor their education to their interests and strengths. It blends multiple disciplines spanning from psychology and philosophy to general chemistry and biology (just to name a few). If you want to learn more about what a neuroscience major is, you can rely on our resource center to get you more familiar with what to expect with this line of study.

Instead of specializing in just one science field, you can pursue the areas you’re most interested in while working toward a valuable major.

Why get a degree in neuroscience?

With your neuroscience degree, you are qualified for a wide range of careers, from laboratory bench research to clinical neuroscience to medical marketing. Read more to learn the answer to the question, “What is a neuroscientist?”

Graduates can start working immediately upon graduation as research technicians, pharmaceutical sales representatives, medical technicians, or patient care assistants. Other career paths include pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience to teach and research in higher education or in clinical psychology to become a clinical psychologist. 

If you’re interested in health sciences and health care, you’ll be qualified to apply to medical school or a range of graduate programs to become a physician assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, podiatrist, nurse, dentist, or cardiac perfusionist.  

What should you consider in applying to a college neuroscience program?

At North Central College, you’ll have many opportunities to tailor your study of neuroscience and research to your individual interests. Neuroscience students can choose from two different tracks: behavioral neuroscience or molecular neuroscience.  While some core courses overlap, the structure provides extra flexibility for students to investigate the topics that interest them, along with elective courses in varied disciplines.

“North Central College is unique in how we integrate our coursework and lab work,” said Michael Stefanik, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience. “In our upper-level neuroscience courses, students get intensive, hands-on research experience completing a real experiment. They have to do an in-depth literature search, develop their own hypotheses, and then put them to the test.” 

Stefanik’s own research involves investigations into drug-seeking behaviors that are at the root of addiction. 

Find out more about North Central College

You’ll want to find a program that allows you to fully experience what neuroscience research is like, hone your data collection skills, and think critically and deeply. Look at the labs that are available to undergraduates. Make sure that you’ll have the opportunity to gain the necessary skills working with equipment and tools used to answer the current questions in the field. These experiences will be directly transferable to a lab position or graduate school.

At North Central College, students have the opportunity to complete either an internship or conduct undergraduate laboratory research as part of the major.  Behavioral neuroscience majors also have the option of taking a senior seminar course, where they read primary literature and discuss it along with a professor. 

“At North Central, all faculty in our department have highly active research programs,” said Stefanik. “Because we are primarily an undergraduate institution, this means that undergrads are the ones doing the important work that results in national presentations and publications in peer-reviewed journals. Our students have been awarded several prestigious awards for their research, including poster awards at the Chicago Society for Neuroscience meeting, top abstract and research talk awards at the annual LSMRCE Empowering Diverse STEM Innovators Conference, a research Fulbright award to study in Canada, and the prestigious G. Andrew Mickley Award from the neuroscience national honor society for the top undergraduate research grant proposal in the nation.”

You’ll want to make sure you gain the kind of experience that significantly strengthens your pursuit of a graduate degree or job application. These research opportunities allow for deep, transformative exploration of the field.  

What are the pros of majoring in neuroscience?

A neuroscience major builds a broad knowledge base that ranges from behavior to anatomy to chemistry to fundamental biology in order to conduct effective lab experiments. Neuroscience is a great field for students with lots of interests because it incorporates various other disciplines, such as psychology, medicine, and chemistry. 

Finding the interconnections among different areas of study can be one of the most rewarding aspects of studying neuroscience. The interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience really sets it apart from other sciences.

What are the top jobs for neuroscience graduates?

If you’re looking for a field with a variety of career options, neuroscience can be a good choice. According to, careers in neuroscience can vary greatly depending on the neuroscience discipline and education level a person pursues. 

These popular career paths are open to people within the field of neuroscience. 

1. Research assistant/scientist. Research assistants and research scientists work in a lab and perform a variety of duties that may include conducting experiments, collecting and interpreting data, creating presentations related to findings, and regularly reviewing research-related resources to stay abreast of trends and developments within their field of study.

2. Laboratory technician. Lab technicians perform diagnostic testing and other technical work concerning the science and medical fields. They may collect samples and perform tests, operate various lab instruments, and record findings to be interpreted by medical professionals.

3. Health educator. The duties of a health educator include promoting and improving community health by educating community members on health behaviors. They may work with other health professionals to design and implement health plans that will encourage healthier lifestyles.

4. Pharmaceutical sciences manager. These professionals are responsible for researching and making decisions related to the development of new medicine and the related sales and marketing. They may oversee the development process of new medical treatments, medications, and equipment and help run trials to test the effectiveness of these developments. 

5. Neuroscience researcher. With a Ph.D. degree, a neuroscience researcher may oversee a lab at an academic institution, perhaps with grant funding. 

6. Clinical psychologist. A clinical psychologist is focused on helping patients identify, cope with and manage emotional, behavioral, and psychological disorders and issues. Clinical psychologists may also conduct research related to the field of psychology and teach courses on various psychological subjects.

7. Medical writer. Medical writers are responsible for researching, writing, and editing copy that is related to various medical subjects. 

8. Physician assistant. Physician assistants are responsible for examining and diagnosing patients. They frequently work under medical doctors, but many states allow physician assistants to work on their own. A neuroscience physician assistant is primarily focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions.

9. Neurosurgeon. A neurosurgeon is a medical doctor who diagnoses disorders related to the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves) and performs surgery.

10. Biostatistician These professionals design, study, and oversee the research of various statistical studies as they relate to the field of neuroscience. They then use the information uncovered in these studies to form clinical trials that test new drugs. They might also examine complex interactions between brain regions or even conduct genetic studies.

11. Dentist Dentists are medical doctors who specialize in all areas of the mouth, including the gums and teeth. 

12. Neurologist. Neurologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders that impact a person's brain, nerves, muscles, or spinal cord. 

You can be at the forefront of the health sciences field with a neuroscience degree and find a specialty for a productive and long-term career!

Jacob Imm is the associate director of communication in the North Central College Office of Marketing and Communications. He has 12 years of collegiate communications experience and has worked with hundreds of college students. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University.