What is Neuroscience?


Why Study Neuroscience?

  • How does emotion, behavior, or thought occur? And how does the body function?
  • What is consciousness? How do senses work?
  • What are the characteristics and sources of disability, learning differences, addiction, and degenerative disease?

Neuroscience explores these questions—and many more—by studying the central and peripheral nervous system, from form to function, with implications for health. It is the study of the nervous system's structure, how it develops, and what it does— the complexity of the brain and how neurons communicate, what genetics and life experience has to do with the nervous system, how knowledge and language and reasoning occurs, and how these learnings can be applied to a variety of the world's needs, including health and wellness.

Studying neuroscience will help you understand the brain, the nervous system, and the body, and these learnings can be applied to almost any field of study, including biology, psychology, genetics, chemistry, computer programming, physics, engineering, linguistics, medicine, ethics, law, theology, ministry, and philosophy.

The Neuroscience certificate is housed in the department of Biological and Health Sciences and those interested should enquire there about signing up for this program.


Why Study Neuroscience at Wheaton?

Studying Neuroscience at Wheaton provides you the opportunity to engage in the scientific process alongside deep-thinking Christians, develop research skills, and be critical evaluators of research in an area that has a great degree of theological importance and potential—the brain.

Wheaton's Neuroscience program encourages interdisciplinary coursework and collaboration for students and faculty across the natural and social sciences, the arts, and the humanities.  You'll integrate neuroscience learnings with your particular major, while also interconnecting biological and psychological research with mathematics, physics, philosophy, and Christian formation. Moreover, Wheaton's neuroscience program deeply engages with questions of the Christian faith, theology, and practice. 

While studying Neuroscience at Wheaton, you'll have the opportunity to use state-of-the-art equipment including functional near infrared spectroscopy for measuring brain blood flow and oxygenation, high-density EEG for measuring electrocortical activity, eye-tracking equipment, a suite of peripheral psychophysiological measures, and to conduct research in the rodent laboratory. Faculty members and the Center for Vocation and Career also help students find vocational opportunities outside the classroom.

The certificate prepares students for graduate school, medical school, or other professional training in neuroscience. It prepares students for careers in basic and applied research and teaching, as well as careers in traditional healthcare fields, by offering both a core set of courses and a degree of flexibility to tailor their coursework to their own interests

You'll study and research with an experienced, interdisciplinary faculty of neuroscience experts—plus Wheaton faculty from a broad array of backgrounds and disciplines. The core faculty consists of

Other Wheaton faculty with interests in neuroscience include Dr. Jennifer Busch (Biology), Dr. Brian Hunt (Applied Health Science), Dr. Kristin Garrett (Political Science), Dr. Adam Wood (Philosophy), Dr. Marc Cortez (Biblical and Theological Studies), Dr. David Van Dyke (Marriage and Family Therapy), and Dr. Johann Buis (Music).


What Will I Learn?

This interdisciplinary experience explores comprehensive knowledge of the nervous system derived from:

  • genetics, molecular and cellular biology
  • neural circuitry and the interconnection between various brain regions
  • psychological factors including cognition, behavior, and emotion, and
  • systematically interconnects/integrates these levels in coursework and research across multiple departments

Consult the course catalog for a full listing of current courses available in this field.

Careers in Neuroscience

Neuroscience is one of the fastest-growing interdisciplinary fields of study in the 21st century and its influence has been widespread. It has extended an impact on disciplines beyond the natural sciences to include: philosophy, law, business, the arts, the social sciences, and the humanities. As the field has grown there has been an increase in the number of undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary neuroscience programs across the nation and demand for them has increased.

Nationally, neuroscience is one of the top 10 career options and is very popular with national and foundation funding support. Studying the nervous system is critical in helping make the connections between mind and brain, and this mind-brain link has significant theological implications on questions of human personhood and the imago Dei.

Wheaton graduates are well prepared to enter graduate or professional schools or to gain employment in a variety of occupations, including:

  • Artificial Intelligence Engineer
  • Artist
  • Audiologist
  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Data Scientist
  • Designer
  • Educator/Teacher
  • Lab Manager
  • Lawyer
  • Marketing or Advertising Consultant
  • MRI technician
  • Musician/Music Instructor
  • Neuroeconomics
  • Nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nutritionist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physician
  • Physician’s Assistant
  • Professor
  • Research Lab Head
  • Research Scientist
  • Research Technician
  • Researcher
  • Scientific Writer/Editor
  • Social Worker
  • Speech & Language Therapist
  • Veterinarian