Psychology professionals have always known that the brain is complex and mysterious, but it was not until the spread of brain imagining technologies in the 1950s and 1960s that neuropsychology became a widespread field of study. Neuropsychology focuses on how the structure of the brain impacts psychological processes, the role that assessments can play in diagnosing brain dysfunctions, and ways to treat brain injuries and diseases.

Those who enroll in neuropsychology degrees can expect to learn about normal cognitive functioning and how impairments to the brain can affect language, memory, attention, problem solving, and reasoning. In addition, students learn about how diseases that affect the nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, interfere with brain function. People who pursue this psychological discipline get hands-on experience with how these disorders are assessed and treated, in addition to the theoretical classroom knowledge neuropsychology courses provide.

Associate Degree: Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology

There are no neuropsychology degree programs at the associate’s level, but that doesn’t mean students who are interested in this field can’t get a head start on their studies. Associate’s degrees in psychology, which generally take two years to complete, gives students a fundamental understanding of the discipline by introducing them to a number of psychological concepts, as well as research that has shaped the field. Some courses that can be especially useful include research methods, clinical psychology, learning theory, and developmental psychology.

Bachelor’s Degree in Neuropsychology

Bachelor

Like associate’s degree students, those who enroll in bachelor’s degree psychology programs can get foundational knowledge they need to move on to a neuropsychology graduate degree program. These degrees, which take about four years to earn, expose students to theories on neuropsychology, cognition, clinical psychology, life span development, and language and speech disorders. Outside of the psychology department, students can also benefit from taking courses in statistics, biology, physiology, and neuroscience.

In addition, there is work outside of the classroom that may help students prepare for a neuropsychology program. For example, if a school has faculty members conducting research on issues related to the brain and human behavior, students may have an opportunity to assist with those studies. Also, internships that allow students to get a first-hand view of how psychologists treat patients with brain impairments, such as positions at rehabilitation centers, reinforce the ways theoretical concepts are applied to real life.

Graduate Degrees in Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology degree programs on the graduate level are designed to build on the foundation that students gained during their undergraduate studies. The following outlines what students can expect when they enroll in neuropsychology master’s and doctoral programs.

Degree Completion Time Units Degree Earned Future Career Opportunities Other Requirements
Master’s

2 years

At least 36

MA, MS

Students must further their education in order to work in the field

May require a master’s thesis, comprehensive examination, or internship

Doctorate

5-7 years

At least 100

PsyD, PhD

Neuropsychologist, college professor

May require a dissertation, comprehensive examination, or internship

Master’s in Neuropsychology

There are few programs that offer neuropsychology master’s degrees. In most cases, psychology programs on the master’s level are general or clinical psychology with a concentration in neuropsychology. Depending on the program, students may earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree.

Goals of the Master’s in Neuropsychology

When students complete a master’s degree in neuropsychology, they should be able to:

  • Conduct neuropsychological assessments, including tests that measure capabilities such as memory and language
  • Distinguish between different kinds of therapies and how to choose the right modality for a patient
  • Identify parts of the brain and what systems of the body each part controls
  • Have an understanding of psychopharmacology
  • Comprehend research methods, including how neuropsychology studies are crafted, executed, and reported

Master’s Degree in Neuropsychology Coursework

The specific coursework that is required in a neuropsychology master’s degree program differs from school to school. However, the following are some examples of classes that students may find in this program.

Clinical Neuropsychology

Provides a history of the field and the study of the effect brain functioning has on behavior. Specific topics covered include frontal lobe syndrome, seizure disorders, agraphia, aphasia, and late and early onset dementias.

Behavioral Neuroscience

Covers the anatomy of the brain and how abnormalities affect behavior. In addition, students learn about the neurochemistry of the brain. Topics include addiction, fibromyalgia, sleep disorders and dementia.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Discusses how cognitive behavioral therapy is conducted and how it can be applied to a variety of patient problems and pathologies. In some cases, students may be required to participate in role playing exercises in order to see cognitive behavioral therapy in action and demonstrate their understanding of the course material.

Personality Theory

This course covers the seminal theories of personality, as well as personality disorders and options for treatment.

Psychopharmacology

Students in this course are introduced to the different classes of psychoactive drugs, how they are used in patient treatment, and the effects they have on the body.

Students in neuropsychology master’s degree programs may have additional requirements in order to graduate. Depending on the school they enroll in, students may be required to complete a master’s thesis or a comprehensive examination. In addition, some schools may expect students to get hands-on experience through an internship or externship program.

Doctorates in Neuropsychology

In order to get a job as a neuropsychologist, students must successfully complete a doctoral degree. Students in these programs can earn a PhD or a PsyD degree. In some cases, psychology departments offer a neuropsychology degree, while others have clinical psychology degrees with a concentration in neuropsychology.

Goals of Doctoral Programs in Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology doctoral programs are extremely rigorous, and when students complete their studies, they are expected to:

  • Possess advanced knowledge of brain-behavior functioning
  • Be able to conduct original research on neuropsychology topics
  • Administer neuropsychological assessments on patients and interpret their results
  • Understand and criticize published neuropsychology research studies
  • Gain an advanced understanding of brain diseases and injuries, and how to diagnose and treat them

Doctoral Degree in Neuropsychology Coursework

Students in these doctoral programs take a number of courses designed to give them the expertise they need to work with patients or conduct neuropsychology research. The following are some examples of coursework that can be found in these programs.

Neuropsychological Evaluation

Students in this course learn how to conduct neurological assessments on patients who may have brain disorders and injuries. In addition, students learn how to interpret the results of assessments and use them to choose the best treatment options for a patient.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Provides an understanding of autism and how it is treated.

Professional Ethics and Law

Gives information on the legal and ethical standards that guide clinical psychologists as they provide treatment or conduct research studies. Students in this class learn about state and federal laws that govern the field, as well as standards set forth by the American Psychological Association.

Data Analysis

Discusses the ways that data is collected and analyzed when conducting psychological research.

Intervention Theory

This course provides information on psychotherapeutic intervention theories from psychodynamic, neuroscience, and interpersonal perspectives.

In addition to coursework, doctoral students may be required to complete a dissertation based on original research. Depending on the school, students may also have to acquire clinical or teaching experience.

About Online Neuropsychology Degrees

Online neuropsychology programs are an excellent way for students to pursue their degrees in a convenient manner, allowing them to incorporate education into their busy lives. The following information explains how online degree programs work, and what students should look for in an online school.

How Does an Online Neuropsychology Program Work?

Distance learning programs can be delivered completely online, or can be a combination of online and on campus work. Since neuropsychology training involves a great deal of experiential learning, students can expect to complete some work on campus, such as research lab sessions or clinical instruction.
Lectures for online courses may be delivered in a synchronous or asynchronous manner. For synchronous courses, students are expected attend a lectures on a certain day and time by logging into the school’s system. Conversely, asynchronous courses give students greater flexibility, so they are able to watch recorded lectures when it is convenient for them.
Online schools have different ways of managing course content and assignments, depending on the system the institution uses. Lectures may be delivered via teleconferences, streaming video or audio, bulletin boards, or text chats. Likewise, students may be able to communicate with their professors in various ways, such as email, chat rooms, instant messaging, or video conferencing.
When it comes to obtaining and handing in assignments, online schools often have specific content delivery systems that allow students to log on to receive and send their homework and examinations.

What to Consider When Choosing a Neuropsychology Online Degree Program

Choosing an online degree program is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Students looking for neuropsychology degrees online should look for the following.

Accreditation

Neuropsychology degree programs should be accredited by the American Psychological Association. Not only does this mean that a program has been evaluated for delivering a relevant, quality education, but holding a degree from an accredited school is also a requirement for a license to practice.

Research

Students who want to become neuropsychology researchers should look for a school that has faculty conducting studies in this area. Although they may complete their regular coursework online, there may be on campus opportunities to research neuropsychology topics under the guidance of professors in their department.

Neuropsychology Professors

Students who are interested in a specific branch of neuropsychology—such as pediatric, forensic, or clinical—can benefit from schools that have several professors with experience in that subspecialty. When researching schools, students should also look into the professors’ backgrounds, including their published research and professional experience, to find a department with faculty that share the same interests.

Neuropsychology Scholarships and Fellowships