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What Can You Do With a Master's in Cognitive Neuroscience?

by Ashley Miller, studioD

If you're interested learning about the functioning of the brain, the ways that people learn and examining other factors involved in cognition, then earning a master's degree in cognitive neuroscience might be the right educational path for you. With a master's degree in cognitive neuroscience, you can pursue a wide range of educational and career options, including further academic study or directly entering the workforce after you graduate.

Pursuing Careers in Related Fields

If you do not wish to obtain a doctoral degree after earning a master's degree in cognitive neuroscience, you may be eligible for careers in fields like telecommunications, artificial intelligence, multimedia design and linguistic analysis, says Case Western Reserve University's Department of Cognitive Science. And a master's degree increases the likelihood that you'll receive a higher starting salary than if you just had a bachelor's degree in the field.

Obtaining a Doctoral Degree

Earning a master's degree is often a step on the path to obtaining a doctoral degree in neuroscience, experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience. It can also be useful for students who wish to pursue medical careers, says the University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. A doctoral degree may increase your chances of employment in certain fields, especially research and academia -- in almost all cases, a doctoral degree is required to become a university professor or researcher.

Teaching in a Community College

People who are interested in teaching but don't want to put the time and money into obtaining a doctoral degree may choose to become community college instructors. Since cognitive neuroscience is a multidisciplinary field, they might also be eligible to teach in related fields, like psychology or neurobiology. Community colleges usually only require instructors to have master's degrees in their related fields, and their workload tends to be less hectic than those of university professors. University professors are often required to be involved in research or academic writing projects, in addition to supervising graduate students.

Becoming a Researcher

Although many research positions in cognitive neuroscience require candidates to have doctoral degrees, it may be possible to obtain a position with a master's degree as a research assistant in dedicated research institutes or some universities. Cognitive neuroscience researchers study a wide range of factors that influence brain functioning and cognition using behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies. They might examine areas like emotion, decision-making or learning or focus on developing new or improving existing neuroimaging methods. Research assistants assist cognitive neuroscientists with their tasks in laboratory settings and may collaborate in writing about the research results for academic publications.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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