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Degree Overview: Master’s Degree Program in Cognitive Neuroscience

Majors Overview April 27, 2015

Get information about master’s degree programs in cognitive neuroscience and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Degree Programs in Cognitive Neuroscience

The relationship between the neurological purpose and behavior of the nervous system and brain is called cognitive neuroscience. Schools most commonly offer doctoral-level cognitive neuroscience degree programs. Some schools also offer a few cognitive neuroscience master’s degree programs, such as the Master of Science (M.S.) in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience, or Cognitive Neuroscience.

The primary focus of programs is on the study of neurological function from a physiological, biological, and scientific level. In some programs, enrolled students can avail the opportunity of focusing on a specific area of cognitive neuroscience, such as developmental neuroscience, synaptic transmission, neuroplasticity, intelligent systems, or computational modeling.

Students enrolled in master’s degree programs in cognitive neuroscience receive training in clinical research. Students can apply this knowledge to future doctoral or professional work.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology or another closely related field, in addition to submitting a statement of interest and scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Some schools require students to provide a letter of recommendation or sponsorship by a member of faculty.


It typically takes a student four years to complete a graduate program, wherein they would engage in laboratory and academic research and are likely to be given a teaching opportunity as a graduate assistant. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Human neuroanatomy
•Cognitive psychology
•Statistical analysis
•Cognitive and behavioral neuroscience
•Research methods

Career Choices

Many cognitive neuroscience students opt for the completion of a doctoral program after they graduate from the master’s program. Those who seek to join the workforce can find research positions in the field. They may choose from popular career options such as technical writer and research assistant.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rate of 22% have been predicted for medical and clinical laboratory technologists, also referred to as medical laboratory scientists (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought home an average annual wage of $47,820. Technical writers, who are expected to see job growth of 15% over the same decade, earned an average annual wage of $65,500.

Continuing Education Choices

Schools more commonly offer programs in cognitive neuroscience at the doctoral level. With a doctoral degree, graduates can choose from a wide variety of higher paying job options. While some employers only require prospective candidates to hold a master’s degree, those who seek college- or university-level teaching jobs will need a doctoral degree.

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