I'm a second-year mathematics undergraduate, and I am really interested in neuroscience and medicine. I would like to pursue a career in research or applications in the above mentioned field. I have heard of mathematics majors getting into theoretical and computational neuroscience, but I am more interested in biological neuroscience. I know that I would have to take courses in biology and neuroscience, but my school doesn't allow me take these courses, considering my major. I am already taking online courses in biology and neuroscience on YouTube and the likes, but I'm afraid that it won't be able to demonstrate proficiency in the subjects if I were to apply for a graduate degree.

So my question is, does anyone know of any paths I could follow, ultimately ending up in a career working in neuroscience and medicine (computational or biological, although biological is preferred)?

Thank you.

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    "my school doesn't allow me take these courses" It's only your second year. You can re-enter the university to study biology or neuroscience if you are really interested in them. Watching online courses is useless. You need to have lab experience. It's up to you to sacrifice two years to fulfill your dream. You'll need the two year math training for studying any STEM fields in the future anyway.
    – Nobody
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 8:56
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    Have you considered doing a master’s in Neuroscience / Cognitive Neuroscience after your undergraduate studies? They can be quite multidisciplinary and will help bring you up to speed on the needed topics. Are you planning to pursue a career in academia (and if so, do a PhD)? In many European countries you need a master’s anyway to start a PhD. Which country are you in?
    – user126108
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 10:14
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    @leonos A masters degree program in neuroscience is going to assume fundamental knowledge in biology chemistry and physics.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 15:27
  • 3
    @leonos The expectations for a masters program are likely to go well beyond pre-university knowledge. Probably at least 2 semesters of university physics, 4 of chemistry (general and organic, also biochem), and upper-division courses (not to mention their prereqs) in cell biology and genetics.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 3:35
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    @Abdulrahman Good luck; it seems your university or country does not really support an interdisciplinary approach if they limit the courses you're able to take so much.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 20:13

1 Answer 1


I don't know where you are studying, but, given what you say, I'd guess that your shortest path to a career focusing on biological research is to start over and abandon the math degree (mathematician writing here, actually). In the US it is quite common for people to change fields between undergraduate and graduate study, but it seems a reach even here for this jump. I couldn't have done it (though long ago). I was required to take science in my math degree but it was all physics; no biology or chemistry. No graduate program in a biological field would likely consider me though I was at or near the top of my class then. Smart enough, but no background on which to move forward. All of the other students would be far ahead of me in the fundamentals.

Perhaps some of the coursework you have taken will apply in a new program (and would in the US), but it would likely save you only about a year in a new program.

Talk to an academic counsellor at your institution or a faculty member or two in math and in biology about where you are and where you want to go. It might even require changing institutions for the best path. Good luck.

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    (Non-biological) neuroscientist here. I would agree, as only a second-year (just started their second year?) math major, the best path forward would be switching wholesale to neuroscience Commented Oct 28, 2023 at 22:11
  • Thanks for the answer @Buffy. Seems like starting over is a popular opinion.
    – user178688
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 20:01
  • But I think I'll follow a more interdisciplinary approach since starting over isn't an option for me.
    – user178688
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 20:06

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