What is Neuroscience?

Explore UC's neuroscience major to find out if it’s the right fit for you

By Bryn Dippold

Have you ever thought about thinking? Or have you been interested in how the brain works and makes us function? What about how the brain makes us behave? If you have, the neuroscience program at the University of Cincinnati might be the right major for you.

Neuroscience, by definition, is the study of the nervous system. While it is based on the nervous system, neuroscience includes many disciplines like physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, computer science and mathematical modeling.

UC is one of the few schools in Ohio that offers a comprehensive major in neuroscience. Many students go on to careers in medicine, pharmaceutical or biotech research, or clinical psychology, to name a few.

The neuroscience program in UC's College of Arts and Sciences has three focus areas: brain, mind & behavior (thinking about thinking); neurobiology (how the brain works) and neuropsychology (how the brain makes us behave). Each focus area is a four-year program that confers a bachelor of science degree.

Real-world experience

Independent research is a major part of the neuroscience program. Most undergraduates choose to fulfill this part of their curriculum by participating in a project within a research laboratory under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Combining minors and certificates

UC offers a wide array of minor and certificate options, and combining one or more with a BS in neuroscience can help you broaden the scope of your study, and customize your own curriculum. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience study, many minors and certificates can complement the program. For example, some students choose to minor in psychology, biology or chemistry, and add certificates in subjects like Global Health Studies or Minority Health.

Career and graduate study possibilities

Many neuroscience undergraduates chose to continue their education in graduate or medical school, with some ending up as doctors, researchers or psychologists. Some neuroscience undergraduates have even brought their knowledge into the business field, working with economics or law from a neuroscience perspective. Some of the more notable career and graduate study possibilities are:

  • Medicine
  • Academic research
  • Pharmaceutical or biotech research
  • Clinical psychology
  • Psychology research
  • Academic science education
  • Developing therapeutics or prosthetics for the brain and nervous system
  • Scientific writing
  • Law, economics or business with a neuroscience perspective

Notable classes

Because neuroscience undergraduates take a wide variety of electives, the opportunities for study are almost limitless.

In the neurobiology track, one notable elective is “Brains on Drugs,” a psychology class which explores the effects of drugs on the human brain. In the neuropsychology track, you can take “Mechanisms & Pathologies of Memory & Learning,” a medical sciences class that explores the abnormalities of learning and memory. 

In the brain, mind & behavior track, you can take “Sensation and Perception,” a psychology course that centers on the process of perception with human senses and how perception is linked to action.

Take it from a graduate

Juliana Madzia, a neuroscience graduate and current MD/PhD student at UC, credits the neuroscience program for leading her into medical school.

“I knew I wanted to go to medical school, but I also wanted a major that wouldn’t just be like straight biology classes,” she says. “Neuroscience was great, because it allowed me to take the classes that were required for med school but had a lot of flexibility for taking courses in psychology or sociology or other things like that.”

This article is one of a series exploring the features of majors offered through UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Featured image at top: Graphic depiction of cells, neurons. Credit/Pixabay