How Much Work is a Neuroscience Major?
This article is based on first-person accounts from Brooke Elkjer, a junior at the University of Southern California; Nishtha Trivedi, a junior at the Honors College of Rutgers University; Elise Turke, a senior at Michigan State University; and Moriah Kofsky, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
If you’re considering the neuroscience major, you may be curious about how much time the students spend studying and doing homework compared to those of other majors and minors. In this post, we discuss the typical workload for students majoring in neuroscience.
Neuroscience Major Workload
Nishtha: It’s hard to tell with online classes because you can pause lectures depending on your own needs, but after class time is over, I spend maybe five to six hours a week doing homework. During tests and midterms, that number probably doubles. Sometimes, the weekends are for all the work that was piled on.
Elise: Yeah, it’s hard to put a number on it because I think that we just roll through life and get done what we need to get done and move on. It’s how college works.
But what’s strange about neuroscience or any hard science is that you’re going to have exams. It’s a lecture-exam format for most of your classes. The homework that you have when it’s not the week of an exam is going to be minimal. It might be five to 10 hours a week. But then the week of an exam, you’re probably going to be studying for five hours for one class. So, it depends on the weeks and when your exams are; sometimes they pile up, and then you’re studying for 30 hours in a week.
Brooke: Being both an English and a neuroscience major, I noticed that for English, I have readings due every class. I need to read four chapters of this book by this class, then two days later, I need to have read four more chapters. It’s consistent and you can plan it all out.
However, most of my science classes have three tests per semester. That makes those test weeks hard, whereas English is more of a slow burn. I think that if I could go back and talk to my high school self, I’d say that before going into college, really consider what learning style works best for me. Am I better at one intense week followed by two easier weeks, or do I want to be reading every night? I think that’s important when deciding on your major, thinking about those temporal dynamics of the different major paths.
Neuroscience Study Methods
Moriah: Many students are interested in the best way to study for neuroscience exams. Everyone has their own learning style, but can you speak to how you’ve approached studying for neuroscience exams and what has worked for you?
Nishtha: With any STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) classes, it depends on how your professor formats the class. In my chemistry course, the professor expected us to have read the chapter before coming to class as he would just go through the material and go straight into the problems. If you didn’t know what was going on, you’d be lost.
As soon as you start a course, read the syllabus to see how the professor structures the class so that you can create your own study schedule. In terms of homework, I usually try to get it done the week of the class. With the three tests per semester, there’s no time to pick up the pace later, even if you need to.
So, I would recommend having a study schedule and staying on top of things, and when it comes to midterms or other exams, you just have to grind during that week.