Psychology & Spanish Major Wanting to Get Into Neuroscience -- Advice? Last minute major switch?!

hatuey

2+ Year Member
Jun 20, 2018
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I am a junior in college, and I have come to the conclusion that applying for a PhD in neuroscience makes the most sense. My concern is that my majors are in Psychology and Spanish instead of my initial combination of Psychology and Neuroscience (more on this). Normally, for someone in my situation who wants to pursue a neuro PhD, doing research in a neuro lab is highly recommended. However, I have spent the past 2.5 years doing research in two psych labs and have already agreed to spend an additional year after I graduate as an RA in one of them. This research experience has quite been fruitful; I have co-authored a publication and will be first-authoring my own publication during my post-bacc year (involves examining the influence of genetic and environmental factors on personality and cognition). That said, I feel like I am at a disadvantage when applying to a neuroscience PhD because 1) my majors are in Psychology & Spanish and 2) I don’t have actual neuro research. Normally, someone in my situation could apply for a post-bacc position in a neuroscience lab, but I have already agreed to a post-bacc position in one of my current labs because of the opportunity to author my own publication and likely get other co-authorships (in addition to receiving strong LORs).

To make myself more competitive, I’m inclined to make the last minute switch to Neuroscience from Spanish so I can have the Neuro + Psych major combination. I switched out of the neuroscience major at the beginning of last semester because I'm very interested in Spanish (it's just not as relevant to my career as a physician-scientist, and at the time, I was leaning more towards psych than neuro). I should mention that I have taken most of the neuro requirements (by virtue of being a psych pre-med) and have a high gpa (sGPA: 3.92, cGPA 3.95) at a T20 university. As much as I love Spanish, it's probably only hurting my case. I feel like I need something concrete on my application to indicate that I am serious about neuroscience; would switching from Spanish back to Neuroscience accomplish this goal? I should mention that my psych research certainly has a neuroscience component as well, but it's still psych.
 
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VaultArmitage

import pandas as pd
Feb 5, 2020
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The Great Midwest Mountains
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Not in college unfortunately.
That's a toughie. I'll make my usual disclaimer that I'm just an undergrad who loves research but it seems like trying to get into a neuroscience PhD with limited to no neuroscience research is going to be difficult. However obviously psych is a field typically associated somewhat with neuroscience. If you're dead set on pursuing a neuroscience PhD and wouldn't be happy in any other field then the best solution to me seems to be dropping the post-bacc position in the psych lab and trying to find a post-bacc position in neuroscience. This would certainly strengthen your application. But I think you should try to reach out to some people in neuroscience PhD programs and ask their opinion. It could turn out that tons of psych majors go into neuroscience and it's no big deal.
 

hatuey

2+ Year Member
Jun 20, 2018
8
0
That's a toughie. I'll make my usual disclaimer that I'm just an undergrad who loves research but it seems like trying to get into a neuroscience PhD with limited to no neuroscience research is going to be difficult. However obviously psych is a field typically associated somewhat with neuroscience. If you're dead set on pursuing a neuroscience PhD and wouldn't be happy in any other field then the best solution to me seems to be dropping the post-bacc position in the psych lab and trying to find a post-bacc position in neuroscience. This would certainly strengthen your application. But I think you should try to reach out to some people in neuroscience PhD programs and ask their opinion. It could turn out that tons of psych majors go into neuroscience and it's no big deal.
I guess it depends on how my psych research is presented. One of our projects involves examining the biomarkers of Alzheimer's (this is how my post-bacc will be supplemented). There's definitely a neuro component, but the research is being conducted in a clinical psych lab (this is the part that worries me). I don't want to drop this post-bacc because I've already made the commitment and have invested a lot into my relationship with my PI.
 
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