Education and Training Requirements

High School

In high school take as many science classes as possible, including biology, microbiology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology. Other recommended courses include psychology, statistics, data science, English, speech, health, and computer science.

Postsecondary Education

There are two educational paths for aspiring neuroscientists. Those who want to conduct research, but not treat patients as medical doctors, should first earn a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience or a related field and then a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a postdoctoral fellowship. Typical classes in an undergraduate neuroscience program include Biology, Bioinformatics, Chemistry, Data Analysis, Molecular Biology, Neurobiology, Neuroethics, Psychology, Statistics, Introduction to Neuroscience, and Introduction to Computational Neuroscience. It should be noted that some people stop their educational training after earning a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, and work in basic science positions.

Those who wish to do clinical work and treat patients must earn a medical degree and complete a medical residency. Many students who pursue this educational route also participate in a postdoctoral fellowship to obtain additional experience.


Certificate programs in neuroscience are offered by colleges and universities and private, for-profit education companies. Contact these providers for more information.

Other Education or Training

Participating in continuing education in-person classes and webinars is a great way to keep your skills up to date and learn about new developments in neuroscience. Educational opportunities are offered by professional associations and colleges and universities. For example, the Society for Neuroscience offers in-person classes and virtual courses on emerging topics and research techniques in neuroscience. Recent classes included Neural Prosthetics and Brain Machine Interfaces; Data Science and Data Skills for Neuroscientists; and Intersection Between Brain and Immune System in Health and Disease. Contact the society for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Neuroscientists who are medical doctors must be licensed to practice in the United States. To become licensed, they must pass a state exam, which is administered by their state's board of medical examiners. Additionally, physician neuroscientists can seek certification in neurology or child neurology from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Aspiring research neuroscientists obtain experience via a postdoctoral fellowship, while those who want to work as physicians must complete clinical training and a medical residency.

Successful neuroscientists have excellent research, analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills. They are fascinated by the workings of the human brain and the nervous system, and they enjoy learning new things and continuing to build their knowledge throughout their careers. Neuroscientists who work as physicians also need these skills, but also should have patience, empathy, good listening ability, and have a calm and soothing presence in order to treat patients who have suffered head injuries (and who may be combative, confused, or otherwise behaviorally affected by the injury).