If you have any questions for us about the UAB Undergaduate Neuroscience Program, please email us at unp@uab.edu. View our UNP Factsheet and the other pages on this website for more information about our program.

Neuroscience is the study of the development, structure and function of the nervous system, with a special focus on the brain and its role in behavior and cognitive functions. Also referred to as Neural Science, Neuroscience seeks to understand not only how the nervous system functions normally, but also what goes wrong in neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurological disorders. Multidisciplinary in nature, the field of Neuroscience spans the structure, function, evolution, development, genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, circuitry and pathology of the nervous system. Therefore, neuroscience integrates biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, psychology, and computer science. It is one of the most rapidly advancing fields in biomedical research.

In Principles of Neural Science (fourth edition), the noble laureate Dr. Eric Kandel, states: "The task of neural science is to explain behavior in terms of the activities of the brain. How does the brain marshal its millions of individual nerve cells to produce behavior, and how are these cells influenced by the environment...? The last frontier of the biological sciences — their ultimate challenge — is to understand the biological basis of consciousness and the mental processes by which we perceive, act, learn, and remember."
Many neuroscientists seek to understand the mechanisms that underlie behavior or cognition, where cognition refers to higher mental processes such as thinking, perceiving, imagining, speaking, learning, remembering, problem solving, planning and acting. This involves understanding how the brain functions at many levels of analysis: from genes to neurons to circuits to behavior.

Neuroscientists also determine how the nervous system develops, matures and maintains itself throughout its normal lifetime. In addition, neuroscientists seek to identify the mechanisms that underlie neurodevelopmental disorders (such as mental retardation and autism), neurological diseases (such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis) and neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease), psychiatric disorders (such as depression and schizophrenia) and injury (such as spinal cord injury and stroke). Understanding the underlying mechanisms is critical for the development of treatments and cures for these devastating disorders and diseases.
We anticipate that most Undergraduate Neuroscience Majors will continue their training after graduation by matriculating to graduate school, or one of the many professional schools such as medical, veterinary, dental, public health, optometry, nursing, or physical therapy school. Today, there is a high demand for qualified and experienced neuroscience researchers and health-related professionals, and there are many career options. Neuroscience researchers and clinicians can teach at medical, dental, pharmacy, nursing or veterinary schools, or hospitals, medical centers, and universities. Neurologists, Psychiatrists, Neurosurgeons, Optometrists and specialized nurses may practice at university affiliated hospitals or enter private practice. Other neuroscientists conduct research or lead with administrative positions in government laboratories, private research foundations, and in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical industries. Neuroscientists also work in government regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control, or in industrial organizations that work with these agencies.

For students who decide to work directly after receiving the BS, or defer their graduate or professional training, there are entry-level positions as technicians in neuroscience that can be found in biomedical research laboratories in pharmaceutical or health product companies or public health programs.

In addition, the Neuroscience Program is developing a special opportunity for a STEM Teaching Certificate through UABTeach. This program would allow students to take education classes in addition to the major courses so that upon graduation from UAB they would be qualified to teach STEM at the high school level in 30 states.

UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, size of graduating class: starts at fewer than 10 in 2011 to about 40 in 2016.

UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Program current class size 2015: just under 50 seniors, over 30 juniors and sophomores, over 70 freshmen.

UAB Undergraduate Neuroscience Porgram student research by department: psychiatry, psychology, and neurobiology are the biggest sectors, followed by cell biology and neurology. Smaller research areas include public health, chemistry, dermatology, glial biology, neutrition sciences, opthamology, and pathology.