Online Degrees in Neuroscience - Bachelor’s, Master’s

The human brain is the most fascinating piece of our bodies. While multiple disciplines deal with it, such as psychology and psychiatry, one looks specifically at the supercomputer attached to our necks: neuroscience. A recent article in Scientific American states that only roughly 10 percent of the human brain is understood by science, leaving the rest of our gray matter a largely unexplored territory. This makes neuroscience one of the most dynamic fields in the already exciting field of medicine and suggests an untold number of potential scientific discoveries to be made.

For individuals interested in biology, psychology, and physiology, neuroscience represents a gigantic frontier still open to exploring. While treating neurological illnesses may be this discipline’s most widely discussed application, its reach goes far beyond medical applications. While some companies and organizations are experimenting with implants that may one day improve or enhance brain function, others are studying methods to control computers, objects, and even vehicles through brain waves. The rise of brain imaging technologies creates new possibilities for psychologists and other experts who study the effects of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

People drawn to neuroscience and considering a career in the field can expect steady employment and high compensation. While neurologists are some of the most highly qualified individuals in neurology, with a decade of schooling or more, a bachelor’s degree in the field can often be a key qualifier for a well-paying job. This guide is geared toward people interested in a career in neuroscience and looking into educational opportunities that lead into the field.

Online & On-campus Bachelor’s Degrees in Neuroscience

Arizona State University

A bachelor’s degree is the educational entry point into neuroscience, and will in nearly all cases be the absolute minimum for a career in the field. In addition to basic scientific disciplines, a bachelor’s degree will incorporate the intense study of biology and physiology. As a complex and multilayered realm, neuroscience requires a strong foundation in its principles for a fruitful start. Below is a selection of fully accredited bachelor’s degree programs that can provide that initial stepping stone.

Arizona State University (Online, On-campus)

Arizona State University is one of the country’s largest institutions of higher learning, largely due to its sizable population of online students. ASU offers a bachelor’s of science in neuroscience that is available both online and in person through the school’s campus in Tempe, Arizona.

The courses required to complete this range from introductory classes in biology to biopsychology.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is located in the city of the same name and offers a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience through its on-campus facilities. The university may be of particular interest to prospective students interested in the medical applications of neuroscience.

UC works closely with the University Medical Center and allows students to get hands-on experience in the clinical setting as part of its bachelor of science degree program.

  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Johns Hopkins University (On-campus)

Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland is one of the U.S. most storied universities, and one of its oldest. To people outside of higher education, the name is most associated with the school’s medical center, known for cutting-edge treatment.

For students looking to complete their entry into the neurosciences through a prestigious institution tied into a well-equipped medical facility may well be at the right place at Johns Hopkins.

  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is located in this small town in the south. UNC is known not just for its football program, but also for its strong academics. The school’s bachelor of science in neuroscience hosts a wide array of required courses, from psychology to organic chemistry and calculus.

  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Online & On-campus Master’s Degree Programs in Neuroscience

While a bachelor of science degree is the general entry point for those interested in a career, a master’s degree is often the next step. In a field where qualifications are important and expertise is heavily emphasized and rewarded, a master’s degree in neuroscience can be a vital part of the progression. The following accredited master’s programs are just a sampling of the wide array of programs available to prospective graduate students.

The University of Florida (Online)

The University of Florida offers an online master’s of science in neuroscience that may be particularly attractive to prospective students who want to pursue their degree through distance learning. The University of Florida’s program has a biomedical concentration, making it a good fit for those individuals who wish to enter the medical field upon graduation.

  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

University of South Florida (Online)

Another Florida institution, located in Tampa, offers a master’s in medical science, aging and neuroscience, that may have particular appeal for those interested in any of these intersecting fields. The program emphasizes practical application and features courses on pharmacology and stem cell research and biology. It can be completed either fully online or at the university’s campus in Tampa.

  • Location: Tampa, Florida
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months

Core and Elective Programs in Neuroscience

No two neuroscience programs will be exactly alike, especially as this field of study is still considered interdisciplinary. As such, it will draw course requirements from parts of a university as disparate as the school of medicine, its psychology department or its school of life sciences. However, a few courses can broadly be expected to be encountered when enrolling in an online or in-person program.

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Genetics
  • Introduction to Neuroscience
  • Neural Development
  • Brain Imaging

Accreditation of Neuroscience Programs

As they are hosted by universities, accreditation of neuroscience programs is almost entirely handled by the regional accreditation bodies responsible for this task in the United States. Organizations such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education are responsible for a specific area or region of the country and ensure the maintenance of academic standards across the programs in their purview. A list of accrediting bodies can be found below:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

Career Outlook

As mentioned in the introduction, the career outlook for graduates of accredited degree programs in neuroscience is fantastic, with the field expected to see high growth over the next couple of years, and the range of applications for neuroscientific research and methods finding new ground every day.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023), neuroscientists are classified as “medical scientists”—a profession expected to see 10 percent growth nationally between 2022 and 2032.

Finally, according to the latest figures as of January 2024, neuroscientists can expect to make the following (BLS May 2022):

  • Mean annual salary: $255,510
  • 10th percentile: $79,530
  • 25th percentile: $150,970
  • 50th percentile (median): $224,260
  • 75th percentile: >$239,200*
  • 90th percentile: >$239,200*

*The BLS does not detail percentiles in excess of $239,200.

And medical scientists can expect to make the following (BLS May 2022):

  • Mean annual salary: $110,670
  • 10th percentile: $58,190
  • 25th percentile: $66,780
  • 50th percentile (median): $99,930
  • 75th percentile: $132,870
  • 90th percentile: $170,260

While numbers on the neuroscientists and graduates of respective degree programs have yet to be available, possibly owing to how new the discipline is, all sectors related to this field are showing strong growth. With an aging population and high investment volumes in the field, the medical sector is growing rapidly and should offer plenty of employment opportunities for qualified individuals in the future. Similarly dynamic is the tech sector, which is increasingly hiring neuroscientists to work on applications such as neural implants and user interface experience.

Johannes Stitz
Johannes Stitz Writer

Johannes Stitz is a freelance writer and researcher based in the Southwest. He’s written about various topics in medical technology careers. Before turning to freelance writing, he spent nearly a decade in the arts as a booker and event manager.