Overview of Neuroscience as a Major: Real Students’ Stories
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by neuroscience majors Brooke Elkjer, Nishtha Trivedi, and Elise Turke in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Are you interested in neuroscience? If you’re a science person who has always been fascinated by the brain and why people act the way they do, this might be the major for you. There are many different subfields, so you can choose what you think is the most interesting. In this article, learn about neuroscience classes, studying neuroscience while pre-med, and students’ favorite and least favorite parts of the major.
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system. There are many different avenues within the discipline, including behavioral neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, and cellular neuroscience. All of these deal with the brain, behavior, and how people act or how the brain and overall nervous system interact with the body.
If you’re a neuroscience major, you’ll take several classes shared by other life sciences majors, such as biology, chemistry, and psychology. As you progress through the major, you’ll begin to take more specialized courses.
There are many interesting options and specialties within neuroscience, so you’ll be able to pursue options that are the most compelling to you. Some classes, such as “Advanced Topics in Neuroscience,” go through the different research paths that are happening in neuroscience right now. This can get incredibly detailed and specific, such as the study of certain proteins in the brain and how they work. It can also be broader. You have many different choices about how you want to direct your studies as a neuroscience major.
If you’re pre-med, neuroscience can be a great major for you. Since pre-med isn’t a major, but rather a set list of courses that you have to take to apply for medical school, it’s convenient to pick a major that requires you to take all those classes, anyway. Neuroscience generally needs you to get through each one. As a major, it will fit in with your schedule and your plans nicely.
Certain schools, such as Michigan State University, have different concentrations within the neuroscience major. A few of these require you to take multiple psychology and sociology courses. This can also help you when applying to medical schools because they like to see that you’ve studied the social sciences too.
If you don’t want to go to med school, you can still feel comfortable pursuing neuroscience as a major. Certain colleges, such as the University of Southern California, offer neuroscience as either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts. The BA requires fewer hard science courses, and students can take classes on things like cognitive neuroscience and perception instead. Since neuroscience has these broad offerings, it’s a suitable major for pre-med and non-pre-med students alike.
Least Favorite Parts
Some neuroscience majors can be quite intense about their studies. Pre-med students feel especially motivated to get top grades so they can get into a good medical school. This can be frustrating if you want to relax and have fun after long hours of doing work.
Certain classes can also be quite lecture heavy. Many hundreds of students attend these lectures, so rather than be in small classes where everyone can participate and discuss the topic at hand, students have to sit and listen to their professor explain the subject matter. These are generally lower-level courses, though. As you move through those requirements, you’ll have smaller classes.
What you’ll learn from your neuroscience classes will be incredible. If you’re someone who has always been interested in the brain and how we operate as people, you’ll enjoy what you discover from this major. You’ll find yourself thinking about the connections that you learned about in class when you’re walking around and noticing how people interact with one another.
There is also so much new research happening in neuroscience. You can connect what you’re studying to what’s happening in the world, and you can think about careers in the field when you’re finished with your degree.
Neuroscience is far-reaching too. It touches on seemingly every aspect of life. You can focus your studies on human behavior, health, and psychology, but if you’re more interested in the hard sciences, you can pursue medicine or even computational modeling. There are many possibilities in the field, and you get to choose which appeals to you most.