What can you do with a degree in neuroscience?


Research and Education

  • Research/Teaching: overall options to consider
    • Basic/Clinical
    • Academic/Biotech/Pharma (private sector) / NIH (public sector)
    • Levels of analysis: molecular through cognitive
    • System: theory and modeling, experimental animal, clinical, social
    • Focus: development, function, disease
  • Professor, Research lab head (principal investigator), running a lab of scientist, post-docs, technicians and students (teach at undergraduate/graduate level); Medical school faculty (less teaching, more fundraising)
  • Other research positions:  research scientist, technician, lab manager, etc. [Note: research may be purely clinical working with patients, etc]
  • Instructor, lecturer, or guest lecturer (may also have a research position)
  • Dean (may also teach and do research)
  • Run an academic program (advisor, coordinator, etc)
  • High school, junior high, elementary science teacher
  • Run a (neuro)science program at a youth education center (city-wide program for public schools, create a program for private schools, summer programs, etc)
  • Teach Neuroscience to medical students
  • Teach public about Neuroscience (non-profit organization, Allen Brain Institute, etc)
  • Teach Neuroscience to adults (continuing education programs, run seminars for companies who want employees to understand brain/health better, train hospital employees about the brain)
  • Work to improve funding for science education
  • Teach Neuroscience abroad (developing nation or other)  

Health-Related Careers

  • Clinical psychologist (e.g., specialize in behavioral neuroscience)
  • Physician (MD or DO)-neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, optometry…
  • MD-PhD (clinical practice and research)
  • Nurse (for example, in neuro ward, neuro-oncology, pediatric neurology, etc); Nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant
  • Speech & language therapist (especially important for neurological patients with damage to left hemisphere, or children with neurodevelopmental disorders)
  • Occupational therapist for adults (especially important following stroke, loss of basic function to take care of ones self, etc)
  • Physical therapist for children (teach how to compensate/alleviate developmental disorders, e.g SPD, autism, ADD, motor disorders, etc)
  • Audiologist (assess hearing function in children, babies, adults)
  • Nutritionist (a neuro background give you a unique perspective on how nutrient and metabolism affect the nervous system)
  • Social worker (a neuro background would help you to understand the specific issues affecting neurological patients upon re-entering their environment following hospitalizations)
  • Clinical research- could work at a number of levels, from technician to research scientist
  • Pharmacist (specialize in how drugs mimic neurotransmitter in the brain)
  • MRI technician, histopathologist, public health, biostatistician, epidemiologist, medical forensics, develop neuroprosthetics
  • Technician for other neurological procedures e.g. deep brain stimulation; genetic counseling
  • Radiation physicist (calculates precisely how radiation should be used to target tumors)
  • Administrator or coordinator (neurology ward or team or neurology residents)
  • Run a public service project in an underserved area with limited medical care
  • Vetinarian

Global Health

  • Run a clinical research project in another country (or work for one)
  • Run a public service project in a developing nation (or work for one)
  • Work for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)- specialize in neurological disease
  • Global health reporting and/or data collection- focus on neurological health
  • Careers at UN, NGOs, MSF, OXFAM, USAID, World Bank

Business & Law

  • Neuroeconomist or economics consultant
  • Chief-Scientific Officer (CSO), Executive Director or other high-level at private company, non-profit foundation, government institution, or academic program
  • Marketing or advertising consultant (What is going on in the brain during decision making?)
  • Equity consultant, analyst or broker for an equity firm, venture capitalist or hedge fund (Is a biotech or pharmaceutical company a good investment?)
  • Spokesperson for a neuro-company; education public on research going on within the company
  • Patent lawyer (e.g., draft a patent application to secure intellectual property rights for a neurobiological technique or product developed at Princeton)
  • Lawyer (specialize in neurodegenerative disease cases, child development, etc)
  • Consultant

Government & Policy

  • Work for a governmental office (CDC, NIH, FDA, etc) that oversees public policy toward neurological disease, the aging brain, etc
  • Capitol Hill Staffer (work in congressional office, science/health-related initiatives)
  • Congressional advisor (advise on policy for the care of children with neurodevelopmental disease, intellectual disabilities, autism, epilepsy, etc)
  • Advise on policy for the care of persons with psychiatric problems, etc
  • Grants administrator and/or reviewer (Program manager- NSF, NIH)
  • Global Health Organizations

Writing & Publishing

  • Scientific journal editor (Neuron, Cell, Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, etc)
  • Scientific journalist (correspondent or columnist)
  • Science book publishing (writing, editing, recruitment of writers)
  • Creative writing about the brain – for children or adults
  • Write biographies of famous neuroscientists
  • Web design and writing for the NIH or other neuroscience organizations
  • Science education blogger
  • Produce science education material web/print (Scholastic, Nature Education, etc)

Consulting (advising with a neuro background)

  • Management consulting (specialize in biotech, pharma or healthcare companies); private consulting firm
  • Lobbyist (for foundations, biotech, etc)
  • Library (medical or other)

Non-profit Research or Foundations

  • Grants specialist –evaluate research portfolio, set funding priorities
  • Patient outreach
  • Discovery specialist for a research foundation (coordinate academic and biotech research to cure a specific disease)

Creative Sector

  • Graphic designer for any company/ organization on this list
  • Design web-based scientific education material (NIH, Scitable, University Science Centers, Startup companies)
  • Science consultant for the media (TV, movies, books, etc)
  • Artist specializing in how the brain perceives things
  • Architect who specializes in how the brain perceives spaces, color, texture, emotion, etc
  • Toy designer- use knowledge to make brain developing toys
  • Musician/instructor (understanding hearing and the brain and its role in composition, performance)
  • Write neurosci-fi screenplays
  • Web design, art, and/or writing for any neuroscience organization

Quant fields

  • Investing, real estate, etc,
  • Big data (e.g., Google, Calico)
  • Artificial intelligence, brain-machine interfaces

---With thanks to Boston University’s Neuroscience’s “Life after College” page for many of these ideas--