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Research University VS LAC for Neuroscience

nbsoftwarenbsoftware 5 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
I know that big research schools (like UMD, WashU, Vanderbilt, etc.) have a lot of funding for research. But, is research still possible at LACs like Williams, Amherst, Bowdoin?
How will grad schools/future employers view the difference (research university vs LAC)?
In what ways is the education different?
Thanks!
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Replies to: Research University VS LAC for Neuroscience

  • writingpumpkin03writingpumpkin03 155 replies6 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Schools like Williams, Amherst, and Bowdoin are wealthier on a per student basis than schools like WashU and Vandy. And a student there can have easier access to research opportunities, since they’re not competing with grad students.
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  • merc81merc81 10155 replies151 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited June 22
    Of the six schools you mentioned, five were noted by academics in a USN survey for their undergraduate opportunities for faculty-mentored research/creative projects. Of the liberal arts colleges, though, all three were included.

    https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/undergrad-research-programs
    edited June 22
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  • nbsoftwarenbsoftware 5 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited June 22
    Thanks for the responses!

    What about the smaller faculty size at LACs? Some of the larger schools have significantly more faculty. Does it make a difference? Or is it essentially the same since there are fewer students?
    edited June 22
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  • writingpumpkin03writingpumpkin03 155 replies6 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    It’s usually proportional to the size of the school, yes. Student to teacher ratios matter more than absolute numbers.
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  • merc81merc81 10155 replies151 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    At a well-resourced liberal arts college, you would be likely to encounter at least eight or so faculty members with interests in neuroscience. As a rhetorical question, do you have reason to believe you would benefit from more than that?
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  • nbsoftwarenbsoftware 5 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    edited June 22
    @writingpumpkin03 That's insightful. UMD is 18:1, Williams is 7:1.
    @merc81 Is the number of classes available/niche areas of neuroscience (that could be of interest) a limitation? Or is that not of concern, because all the major topics will be covered, and I would be able to directly interact more with faculty?
    edited June 22
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  • merc81merc81 10155 replies151 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    You might want to consider the basis of an undergraduate neuroscience degree. It consists of foundational courses and electives in chemistry, biology and psychology as well as in courses (from offerings of a dozen or more) specifically designated as neuroscience. Students can further develop their interests through departments such as computer science and philosophy. If you have interests that might be more specific than this array might accommodate, they could actually interfere with your general preparation if pursued too early.
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  • merc81merc81 10155 replies151 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Of course the particular LAC you choose can matter as well. For example, Williams, Amherst and Bowdoin aren't particularly notable for their psychology departments. If that's the aspect from which you would like to approach the field, you may want to broaden your search. However, if you have a strong interest in a biological approach, then Amherst, for example, could make an excellent choice.
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  • nbsoftwarenbsoftware 5 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    @merc81 Thanks! I hadn't considered the different slants to a neuroscience degree. I always thought neuroscience was almost purely biological.
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  • merc81merc81 10155 replies151 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    To give you an idea of the diversity of available approaches to neuroscience, @nbsoftware, some neuroscience majors' interests may lead them to a sequence of courses in computer science culminating in an upper-level course in artificial intelligence, for example.
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  • nbsoftwarenbsoftware 5 replies2 postsRegistered User New Member
    @merc81 Thanks so much for your input!
    So the strength of the neuroscience major (for me) at a particular school is based on the individual strengths of the departments relevant to my specialization. I'll keep that in mind.
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  • MWolfMWolf 1280 replies8 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Either are excellent choices. The only question you should be asking yourself is which would be better for YOU. For neuroscience you would likely need a graduate degree to work in the field, and most LACs and LAC students have good reputations among graduate programs.

    PS. My kid will be starting Middlebury this fall as a neuroscience major.
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