Students who are interested in gaining entry into the behavioral neuroscience graduate programs of the top ranked universities should always endeavor to excel in undergraduate studies with an equal emphasis in biology and psychology. Since the field of behavioral neuroscience studies the effects of neurotransmission on behavior, it is vital to meet the core undergraduate prerequisites in both disciplines. In fact, some colleges also offer undergraduate degrees in neuroscience which would be the best choice for undergrad preparation.
Core Foundation in Neuroscience Graduate Studies
Although a student may wish to specialize in behavioral neuroscience, graduate core courses in the field of neuroscience must be completed first. The examples cited here are based on semester hours while some universities utilize quarter hours so the core courses may be broken down a bit differently. For example, if six core courses are needed at a university that employs the semester hour standard and each course is worth three credits, those six core courses would provide 18 or 48 core credits needed toward an M.S.
Typical Requirements for Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Programs
Obtaining a graduate degree in behavioral neuroscience requires a combination of course work, research, field work and written papers often referred to as dissertations. Typical requirements might look like this:
• 6 Core Courses – 18 of 48 credits and these courses are specific core requirements (cannot be changed)
• 4 Electives or Seminars – 12 of 48 credits
• 6 Courses based on the grad student’s primary focus/interest within neuroscience, i.e. behavioral neuroscience
• 1 Research in Psychology Course – emphasis on research related to M.S. / PhD. thesis, taken after first year.
The above core requirements for an M.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience are based on the program offered at Rutgers University, but most of the nation’s top graduate programs are modeled similarly.
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Graduate Requirements from a Different Perspective
One thing which should always be emphasized is that graduate school is not cheap. Also, space is quite limited in most specialty programs, which means that students with the highest qualifications in academic and social skills will most easily gain acceptance. In order to qualify for fellowships and grants, which may be limited, it is vital to graduate with a high GPA on an undergraduate level. Those who have their sights set on a top ranked graduate program need to set their goals high and early on in their academic career. There is no way around this unless you are the son or daughter of Donald Trump whose father made a multi-billion dollar endowment to ‘buy’ an entry!
Summing it all up, an M.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience will require a student to have completed a minimum of six credits in research along with twenty-four course credits. Furthermore, there must be a minimum of fifteen CORE course credits and no more than six credits in non-thesis research. Somewhere along the line the student would be well advised to take a course in statistics as research is quantified with statistical data. Anyone seeking a career in this highly specialized field should begin researching behavioral neuroscience graduate programs early on in their undergraduate studies in order to be well prepared to contend for the few available spots.