MISSOULA – Students attending the University of Montana can now earn an undergraduate degree in neuroscience, the study of the nervous system and the brain.
The interdisciplinary major, approved by the Montana Board of Regents earlier this year, draws from courses in multiple University departments, mainly biomedical sciences, psychology and biology. The major also requires courses in chemistry, math and physics and offers elective courses ranging from kinesiology and health to behavioral economics, literature and dance. UM will offer four new courses developed for the major, including From Molecules to Mind: Fundamentals of Neuroscience and Central Nervous System Diseases.
“The courses offer a range of different perspectives on the brain, mind and behaviors,” said Jesse Hay, biology professor and program director. “You need to have a broad-ranging university with many areas of expertise to offer a comprehensive degree like this. It’s really taking advantage of the strengths of multiple departments and people across campus.”
Students can choose from two tracks: cognitive and behavioral neuroscience or cellular and molecular neuroscience. The first option prepares students for careers in human-centered neuroscience fields, such as occupational, physical and speech therapy and counseling. Graduates who earn degrees in the cellular and molecular neuroscience option can pursue careers in fields such as medicine and biomedical research. Either track provides an entryway into science writing, patent law or entrepreneurial endeavors related to brain science.
Psychology Professor Allen Szalda-Petree advises students on the cognitive and behavioral track, while Hay oversees the cellular and molecular option.
“Neuroscience is a rapidly growing area of health care,” Hay said. “The job forecast is really good right now. It’s been growing for decades and is projected to continue to grow by at least 13 percent in the current decade.”