Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated August 2010
Take a step back for a moment. No, not from your computer screen – take a step back and consider all the ways in which your brain and body interact.
When you read, your eyes scan a page and your brain deciphers all those symbols, ultimately and instantly creating meaning. When you take a bite of a piece of pie, your tongue, through various physiological processes, sends signals to your brain, which in turn “makes sense” of the flavors and tells you that it is pleasant.
You knew this already? The whole idea fascinates you? Then you, my friend, are a superb candidate to enroll in a biopsychology curriculum on a graduate level.
Biopsychology courses explore the mysteries of how the brain and the body form a system in order to help people who suffer from a variety of biological or psychological maladies. Biopsychology may also be referred to as physiological psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and psychobiology. Because of the nature of work in graduate biopsychology, curriculums, and the many directions students may choose to go, the coursework covers a wide range of topics and is designed to afford students the greatest breadth of experience possible.
Biopsychology curriculums include courses that cover memory, learning and neurotransmitters, and their effects on human and animal behavior. Biopsychology courses span the physical to the behavioral; students will choose from such offering as: immunology, vertebrate and invertebrate evolution, statistics and laboratory methods, advanced statistics, affective neuroscience, animal models in biopsychology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, neurobiology, neuroanatomy, neuropsychopharmacology, and the chemistry of the brain.
Aside from the basic courses that most, if not all, students in biopsychology programs must take, there is a great deal of latitude when it comes to the specific areas of focus that individual students may pursue. Therefore, it is possible to choose a professional direction to a high level of specificity. Some possible biopsychology concentrations are:
- Applied Biopsychology
- Animal Behavior
- Behavioral Neurobiology
- Sensory Processes
Yet still other biopsychology concentrations focus on such practical areas as adolescent biopsychology or biopsychological disorders. No matter what the concentration, all students will find themselves engaging in extensive independent research, and may enter biopsychology careers in the business, health, institutional, industrial, and environmental sectors.
Careers in biopsychology
Biopsychology is a growing field, and as the scientific understanding of human behavior continues to increase and improve, biopsychology professionals will remain in high demand. There are already a number of biopsychology career choices, from laboratory research to clinical psychology and work with pharmaceutical companies, and all will set the graduate up for a lifetime of interesting and rewarding work.
The average salaries of biopsychology careers vary depending on degree, experience, job setting, and location. A starting neuroscientist can earn about $69,000 annually, while drug abuse counselors can earn an average of $60,000. Animal behaviorists can command an annual salary of about $78,000, and rehabilitation psychologists may earn about $85,000 a year to start. Some with a masters or PhD degree in biopsychology become pharmacologists and earn an average of $90,000 each year.
Many biopsychology careers require a doctorate degree. An immunologist can rake in about $150,000 annually. Researchers can command an average salary of $70,000 a year, while natural sciences managers may earn an average of $99,000. PhD degrees in biopsychology can also lead to careers as professors, which pay an average of $120,000. Others may choose to be psychiatrists, who can earn a mean salary of $155,000, or become clinical neuropsychologists, who can make $127,000 annually.
Those pursuing a masters or PhD degree in biopsychology will be fascinated by the intricate relationship between the brain and the body. Completion of a biopsychology curriculum can lead to a variety of biopsychology careers. In whatever direction they ultimately decide to go, graduates in biopsychology are sure to find their professional careers rewarding, challenging and demanding in all the right ways.
Did you know all that, too? Probably.
Photo by Aidan O'Sullivan