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Careers in Neuroscience

Neuroscience is a growing field of study. An undergraduate degree can prepare students to enter a number of graduate and professional programs in neuroscience, psychology, medicine and healthcare. Some neuroscience specialties include:

  • Neurotechnology: combining engineering and technology with neuroscience including how to improve and epair brain function.
  • Neuroprosthetics: the interface between man and machine.
  • Neuroethics: the social, legal, and ethical consequences of advances in brain research.
  • Neuroeconomics: risk-taking and decision-making that influence business and the economy.
  • Neuroaesthetics: creativity and the brain.

A career in neuroscience can take you many places. Whether it's in a clinical or research setting, there are numerous opportunities in the field.

Medicine/Healthcare and Psychology

Potential Employers

  • Government
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Armed Services
  • Group or private practice
  • Health clinics
  • Health networks
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Mental health institutions
  • Correctional facilities
  • Colleges or universities
  • Medical schools

Strategies (General Healthcare)

  • Meet with a pre-health advisor periodically to discuss curricular decisions.
  • Maintain a high grade point average, particularly in the sciences, to improve chances of admission to graduate or professional school.
  • Secure strong faculty recommendations.
  • Seek experience in health care settings through volunteer positions, research positions or internships to test interests and increase marketability.
  • Participate in service-oriented organizations, medical missions, remote healthcare clinics and professional societies in your target field.
  • Research accredited institutions. Check graduation rates, success rates on licensing exams, cost, location, etc. If possible, speak with current students.

Strategies (Psychology)

  • Graduate programs in clinical psychology should be accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Graduate programs in counseling should be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
  • Research certifications through the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology and the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology.

Research and Development

Potential Employers

  • Government
  • Centers for Disease Control
  • National Institutes of Health
  • National Science Foundation
  • Public Health Organizations (state, local, international)
  • World Health Organization
  • Oxfam America
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • United Nations
  • Research Foundations
  • University Science Centers


  • Develop a solid background in statistics, mathematics and the software utilized for statistical analyses.
  • Gain experience with research. Volunteer to assist professors with research or apply for summer programs and internships.
  • Develop strong communication skills, knowledge of funding sources, grant writing techniques and submission procedures.
  • Considering earning a graduate degree in clinical psychology, experimental psychology or statistics.

Legal Field

Potential Employers

  • Corporations (biotechnology)
  • Trade and professional associations
  • Political action committees
  • Law firms
  • Public interest advocacy groups
  • Legal aid societies
  • Government
  • Congress
  • Center for Disease Control
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • National Institute of Health


  • Develop strong research and writing skills.
  • Enhance communication skills through public speaking courses, debate team or Toast Masters (a public speaking organization).
  • Maintain current knowledge of industry trends, laws and policies specific to area of interest.
  • Acquire internships in federal or state government.
  • Utilize applicable websites and seek assistance from your college career center.
  • Take courses in history, political science and/or legal studies to supplement science curriculum.
  • To pursue a J.D., participate in mock trial and pre-law associations, and learn law school admissions process.


Potential Employers

  • Manufacturing companies
  • Biotechnology
  • Neurotechnology
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical device and equipment
  • Consulting firms


  • Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills and demonstrate a high energy level.
  • Take courses in anatomy, pharmacology and chemistry to supplement curriculum. Consider a business minor.
  • Seek experience through part-time jobs and internships in business; experience in sales may be necessary for some positions.
  • Be prepared to start in entry level positions, such as management trainee programs.
  • Consider an MBA or Professional Science Master's to advance into higher levels of business management, consulting and brand management.


Potential Employers

  • Public and private schools, K-12
  • Two-year community colleges/technical institutes
  • Four-year institutions
  • Professional/Medical Schools
  • Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry, Pharmacy,
  • Dentistry, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine
  • Libraries (medical or other)
  • Public Health Organizations
  • Research Foundations
  • University Science Centers


  • Complete a teacher preparation program for K-12 positions, which varies by state. A content area is required for secondary education licensure in most states.
  • Master's degrees may be sufficient for teaching at community or two-year institutions.
  • Seek a Ph.D. in psychology, biology, neurosciences, etc. for teaching opportunities at colleges and universities.
  • Conduct research or assist in research at the undergraduate level and maintain a high GPA to secure strong personal recommendations.
  • Pursue a master's degree in college student personnel, higher education administration for student affairs or administrative positions.
  • Earn a master's degree in library or information sciences from a program accredited by the American
  • Library Association (ALA) for medical library positions.

Media and Design

Potential Employers

  • Science/Education
  • Journals
  • Publishing companies
  • Educational textbooks
  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Industry
  • Architecture
  • Toy design
  • Film
  • Media


  • Pursue courses in medical illustration or medical, neurological, biological or ophthalmic photography, depending on your goal.
  • Develop strong writing skills and a portfolio of published works.
  • Take advanced courses in technical writing or journalism classes or consider a minor in either.
  • Join professional associations like the National Association of Science Writers or the Public Relations Student Society of America.
  • Seek related volunteer or paid experiences with student/local publications or blogs to increase marketability.
  • Consider earning an advanced degree in a communications field to specialize in scientific journalism.

Source: The University of Tennessee Center for Career Development, 2016