Behavioral Neuroscience Degree Programs

Cultured Rat Hippocampal Neuron.
Photo by ZEISS Microscopy, Creative Commons License.

Behavioral neuroscience is a subspecialty of psychology that looks at the developing behaviors of human beings from a biological perspective. It deals in neurotransmitters, nerve density, brain circuitry and other biological factors in an attempt to build an evidence-based explanation of how people behave. A behavioral neuroscience degree typically leads to a career in science, often using animal experimentation (particularly rats and mice) to reveal the brain’s function in determining behavior.

What Does a Behavioral Neuroscientist Do?

As a behavioral neuroscientist, you will spend less time in front of the subject and more time studying brain wave patterns in experimental conditions. As aforementioned, these professionals typically run experiments on animals, so there is some inference involved regarding what the experiments say about human pathology.

Working in this field means you will have to be grounded enough to understand the brain science behind your subjects, but it also means that you will need to be creative and behaviorally-minded enough to understand human behavior and to develop experiments that will ultimately grow the collective knowledge about what is known regarding human behaviors.

Careers in Behavioral Neuroscience

One of the biggest employers of the behavioral neuroscientist is the health care industry, particularly relating to prescription drug development. Drug companies that specialize in these kinds of treatments rely on the research and developments that behavioral neuroscientists can provide.

It is also not uncommon for behavioral neuroscientists to work directly inside the medical community at hospitals and rehabilitation clinics. Salaries for these types of psychology professionals are very competitive, running anywhere from the low $80,000 range to six figures, making a behavioral neuroscience degree a path to one of the more lucrative subspecialties of psychology.

Obtaining a Behavioral Neuroscience Degree

Behavioral neuroscience degree training relies heavily on biology classes, particularly those focusing on the brain. However, they are not confined to this area. As a student of the field, you will also be expected to know much about clinical psychology and human behavior.

For licensing, you will need a doctorate degree at the very least. Your state may also require passage of a licensing exam and supervised field training experience.

Useful Behavioral Neuroscience Resources