Do you have to go to med school to be a neuroscientist?

The question of the brain and the mind – what it’s and how it works – has trapped man’s thinking since the origins of philosophy, as he has never stopped searching for an answer.

Neuroscience is a field in which you can work with the brain and cognitive function, containing some of the world’s greatest mysteries that are unimaginably important to all of us. Neuroscience is breaking new ground every day, uncovering hidden links in the brain.

It sounds exciting? Frankly, the prospect of a neuroscience career is pretty amazing, so pursuing a neuroscience major at the master’s or doctoral level doesn’t sound like a waste of time.

In this brief guide, we’re going to answer the question “Do you have to go to med school to be a neuroscientist’’ what they do, neuroscien’s branches, average salary, and its importance.

Do you have to go to med school to be a neuroscientist?

No, neuroscientists are basic scientists who may or may not have a medical degree.

To become a neuroscientist, you must earn a Ph.D. that focuses on the field of neuroscience. You should start your educational journey by earning a bachelor’s degree. You should choose a degree program that has courses in biology, physiology, psychology, and human anatomy. 

Bachelor’s degrees that prepare applicants for medical school would be appropriate however it’s optional.

Some schools offer biology degree programs with concentration areas such as molecular biology, immunology, and neurobiology. The undergraduate program prepares students for advanced courses in a graduate program in neuroscience.

Once you earn your college degree, you must earn a master’s degree with advanced courses in neuroscience or biological sciences. At the graduate level, you‘ll want to choose a program that provides clinical laboratory experience and options to study neuroscience in depth. You can then choose a Ph.D. program that allows you to focus on neurological research.

If you’re considering studying this career we recommend you go to the best universities that offer it, if you want to know what they are click here.

What’s neuroscience?

Neuroscience is a field of science that studies the nervous system and all its aspects; how its structure, function, ontogenetic and phylogenetic development, biochemistry, pharmacology, and pathology could be; and how its different elements interact, giving rise to the biological bases of cognition and behavior.

Neuroscience has traditionally been classified as a subdivision of biology, but in reality, it’s an interdisciplinary science closely related to other disciplines, such as mathematics, linguistics, engineering, computer science, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, or medicine.

The goals of neuroscience are:

  • The main objective of neuroscience is to reveal what is the biological functioning that underlies thought, emotions, behavior, and the higher processes of the human mind (learning, memory, attention, language …).
  • Neuroscience is in charge of describing the structure of the nervous system and the development process that it entails from its formation before birth, until death.
  • It tries to answer the problem of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis, in order to stop their spread in the body once the disease starts, create regeneration, and establish a barrier against the acquisition.

What’s a neuroscientist?

Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive (thinking) functions, but they also investigate what happens to the nervous system when people have neurological, psychiatric, or neurodevelopmental disorders.

Neuroscientists study the cellular, functional, evolutionary, computational, molecular, cellular, and medical aspects of the nervous system.

What do neuroscientists do?

Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions. Neuroscience isn’t only concerned with the normal functioning of the nervous system, but also with what happens to the nervous system when people have neurological, psychiatric, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

  • Investigate the brain, spine, and nervous system through clinical trials and experiments.
  • Conduct research, testing, and experiments with cell tissue samples.
  • Identify the functional and non-functional components of a patient’s nervous system.
  • Monitors brain and nerve activity through electrodes and images.
  • Diagnoses abnormalities or behaviors of the nervous system and develops medications to help with afflictions.

What are some of the different areas of neuroscience?

There are many different branches of neuroscience. Each focuses on a specific topic, body system, or function.

Some branches of neuroscience are:


Neurophysiology is responsible for the functional study of the bioelectric activity of the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous system, through the use of advanced analysis equipment and techniques, such as Electroencephalography, Brain Cartography, Qualitative and quantitative Electromyography, and Electroneurography, among others.


Neuroanatomy is the science that is dedicated to the study of the anatomy of the nervous system, that is, its structure and organization.

The study of neuroanatomy starts from the division of the nervous system into two main types, the central nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system.


Neuropharmacology is the study of how drugs affect cellular function in the nervous system and the neural mechanisms that behavior influences. There are two main branches of neuropharmacology: behavioral and molecular.

Behavioral neuroscience

Behavioral neuroscience is focused on the study of neurobiological aspects of behavior with particular emphasis on neurochemical, psychopharmacological, and electrophysiological aspects related to both normal and pathological emotional and affective responses, including stress, fear, resilience, pleasure, and depression.

Cognitive neuroscience

Cognitive neuroscience is a subfield of neuroscience that studies the biological processes that underlie human cognition, especially with regards to the relationship between brain structures, activity, and cognitive functions.

Systems neuroscience

This area of research studies how nerve cells behave when they’re connected to form neural networks that perform a common function, such as vision or voluntary movement.

Molecular neuroscience

Molecular Neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience that makes use of the concepts of molecular biology applied to the nervous system of animals.


It’s in charge of studying the structure and function of the brain related to psychological processes and behaviors.


Neurology is the medical specialty that studies the structure, function, and development of the nervous system (central, peripheral and autonomic) and muscular in a normal and pathological state, using all the clinical and instrumental techniques of study, diagnosis, and treatment currently in use.

Neurology and neuroscience are the same?

Neuroscience is the discipline that scientifically studies the functioning of the nervous system, as well as the way to apply its knowledge to understand diseases of the nervous system.

Neurology is a specialty of medicine that diagnoses and treats disorders and diseases of the nervous system, both central and peripheral and autonomic.

Neuroscientists are basic scientists who don’t have to have a medical degree, as it’s accessed with a Doctorate in Neuroscience.

Neurologists are medical graduates who have specialized in neurology through specialized studies and practices. They treat neurological diseases of all kinds, such as epilepsy or Alzheimer’s. Neurologists can also become neurosurgeons if they specialize in surgery.

Where do neuroscientists work?

Neuroscience jobs are found in the medical, educational, research, and government scientific communities.

Neuroscientific knowledge is increasingly valued in different areas of human activity. Neuroscientists research universities, research centers, biotech, or pharmaceutical industries. But they also work as psychologists, neuropsychiatrists, get involved in advertising, communication, the press, teaching or companies.

Neuroscientists can participate in publicly funded research projects at universities, research institutes, or government facilities. Others conduct applied research for private industry, where they develop new pharmaceutical treatments or other biotechnological products.

Neuroscientists average salary

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary earned by neuroscientists was $ 96,420 in May 2018; Those working in scientific research and development services earned an average of $ 102,260 a year in 2018. Employment of medical scientists is expected to grow 8% between 2018 and 2028, according to the BLS.

Is neuroscience important?

The main importance of neuroscience is that thanks to it we can better understand how our brain works, predict possible complications in development, and cure disorders derived from problems in the nervous system.

In our brain resides our past (memories, learnings), our present (feelings, personality, consciousness), and our future (illusions, projects). Although it does not have enough energy to light a light bulb, it is capable of calculating, recognizing faces, and analyzing situations with quality and flexibility that exceeds that of the most powerful computer ever built.

Part of the interest in Neuroscience is rooted in our historical fascination with the nervous system. The nervous system not only works to produce thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, but it also controls important bodily functions, such as breathing.

Studying the nervous system generates advances in the understanding of our basic biology and the functioning of the body. Knowing how things generally work can help clarify what might happen when there are problems.

It can help researchers discover ways to avoid or treat problems that affect the brain, nervous system, and body essential to maintaining the general health and well-being of all people.

FAQSs: Do you have to go to med school to be a neuroscientist?

Is neuroscience a good career?

The field of neuroscience grows by leaps and bounds with each passing year being one of the highest paid academic fields.

How many years does it take to become a neuroscientist?

Becoming a neuroscientist can take up to 10 years. 4 years to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. 2 Additional Years to earn A Master’s Degree. And 3-4 Additional Years to earn to earn a PHD or PsyD.

Is neuroscience a hard or soft science?

Neuroscience is a sub-field of biology, albeit an extremely large and eclectic one hence why it often gets treated as its own branch. So yes, it’s a hard science, unless you’re one of those insecure physics majors who considers biology and most of chemistry to be soft sciences.

Why should I study neuroscience?

Studying the nervous system generates advances in the understanding of our basic biology and the functioning of the body. Being a neuroscientist helps discover ways to avoid or treat problems that affect the brain, nervous system and body.

Can I do neuroscience with a psychology degree?

Yes, you can do a master’s or doctorate in neuroscience if you have a science-related degree, such as biology, biomedical sciences, biochemistry, and psychology.

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Do you have to go to med school to be a neuroscientist?’’ what they do, neuroscien’s branches, average salary, and its importance.

So, do you want to study neuroscience?

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Bear, M., Connors, B., & Paradiso, M. A. (2020). Neuroscience: Exploring the brain. Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

Squire, L., Berg, D., Bloom, F. E., Du Lac, S., Ghosh, A., & Spitzer, N. C. (Eds.). (2012). Fundamental neuroscience. Academic Press.

Scarlett, H. (2016). Neuroscience for Organizational Change. An Evidence-based Practical Guide to Managing Change. United Kingdom: Kogan Page.

Suchowersky, O. (2015). Decade in review—movement disorders: Tracking the pathogenesis of movement disorders. Nature Reviews Neurology, 11(11), 618-619. doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2015.201