Prospective Students

Neuroscience for Prospective Students
The DIBS undergraduate neuroscience team welcomes prospective students to campus.

Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary experience that synthesizes discovery from diverse sources of knowledge. As a neuroscience student at Duke University, you will be challenged to explore this knowledge derived from three levels of analysis: 

  • molecules within the cells of nervous systems
  • neural circuits for which cells are organized and interconnected
  • behaviors that emerge from the functions of neural circuits

The integration of these analyses makes neuroscience an exciting adventure of exploration and discovery. To major in neuroscience is to engage in one of the most satisfying endeavors that an education in liberal arts and sciences can offer. 

Now more than ever, the broad impact of innovation in neuroscience is extending beyond the traditional academic disciplines where the brain sciences emerged. New dialogue and collaboration exists among neuroscientists and experts in law, business, social sciences, philosophy, the arts, and the humanities. Accordingly, the Duke curriculum in neuroscience for majors (Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts) and minors reflects this broadening interdisciplinary platform for discovery and learning, with a rich offering of learning experiences that reflect the exciting growth of neuroscience and its increasing relevance to real-world problems. 

Students studying neuroscience are provided rich opportunities to study the brain with faculty from a number of diverse disciplines and perspectives. Our undergraduate curriculum is taught by faculty from many departments, chiefly the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and the Department of Biology, both of which are in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, and the Department of Neurobiology in the Duke University School of Medicine and the Biomedical Engineering Department in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. 

  • Who can I talk to about career options as a neuroscience major?
  1. Career service specialists are waiting to meet with you to discuss potential neuroscience-related career options even before you declare it as your major!
  2. Talk with your neuroscience professors; ask them about their experiences and what their career path has been like.
  3. As a neuroscience major, you will have a ‘major advisor’ that you can also talk to about your career path.
  • What can I do with a neuroscience degree?
Students graduating with a major (B.S./A.B.) in neuroscience will be well prepared for a variety of graduate (M.S./Ph.D.) education programs in neuroscience and related fields, including programs that feature studies in genetics and genomics, molecular and cellular neuroscience, systems neuroscience or cognitive science. Completion of a Ph.D. in neuroscience would then facilitate a career as a scientist/educator in colleges and universities, government sponsored institutions or private industry. Neuroscience majors from Duke will also be highly competitive for admission to medical school or any other health professions school, such as dental school or schools that prepare physical therapists or physician assistants. Given the broad impact of neuroscience, Duke neuroscience majors will be increasingly sought out by leaders in law, business, social sciences, arts, and humanities for collaboration where knowledge of the brain sciences addresses public policy, professional practice, and a broad understanding of human behavior, including the following fields:
  1. Academia, education, and teaching (teach neuroscience; work to improve funding for science education)
  2. Business and law (marketing; advertising; patent lawyer)
  3. Health-related careers (clinical research; radiation physicist)
  4. Global health (global health reporting; data collection focus on neurological health)
  5. Creative sector (toy designer; advertising)
  6. Consulting (management; private company)
  7. Non-profit research or foundations (discovery specialist for research foundation)
  8. Government and policy (policy advisor; public policy)
  9. Writing and publishing (scientific journalist; educational writer/producer)
  10. Innovation/entrepreneurship (devices; medical health)
  • What’s the difference between a bachelor of science (B.S.) degree and a bachelor of arts (A.B.) degree?

One or the other degree may be conferred to neuroscience majors at Duke University. The B.S. major emphasizes studies in the quantitative sciences, with additional background in mathematics and organic chemistry. This degree may be preferred by students planning to enter medical school or pursue graduate studies in neuroscience. The A.B. major exposes students to the broad relevance of brain science for culture and society by requiring that students study the history of neuroscience, ethical issues in neuroscience research, or the philosophy of mind. This degree may be well suited to students interested in applying knowledge of the brain sciences to disciplines outside of the traditional natural sciences or medicine.


Learn more about DIBS

The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences is a scientific institute with a collaborative spirit and a commitment to education, service and knowledge across disciplines. We encourage creativity, taking risks, sharing ideas and working together.


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