Bucks Launches New Associate Degree in Neuroscience

Becomes one of the first community colleges in the nation to offer a two-year degree in the field.

Bucks County Community College, which has been setting trends in higher education for nearly 50 years, is now one of the first community colleges in the nation to offer an associate degree in neuroscience.

Neuroscience is a rapidly expanding field that studies the structure and function of neurons and how they are assembled to produce behaviors, according to Debra Niehoff, Ph.D., the coordinator of the neuroscience program.

“It is truly an interdisciplinary field,” said Niehoff. “You can enter psychology, biology, pharmacology, or any number of allied health fields by studying neuroscience.”

Those who earn the 60-credit associate degree from Bucks would be qualified to work as a clinical research assistant, a medical writer, or a healthcare market research analyst, among other opportunities. Students who transfer to a four-year college or university and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree have even more career opportunities open to them in the healthcare, medical, and counseling fields.

Niehoff says neuroscience students will be conducting experiments with zebrafish as a model of human behavior.

“For instance, you can study neuropharmacology by adding a substance to the tank water and observing the zebrafish’s behavior,” explained Niehoff. “Their embryos are transparent, so you can monitor which substance added to the water might affect brain development.”

Niehoff trained as a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and has written extensively about the biological origins of emotional behavior.  She is the author of The Language of Life: How Cells Communicate in Health and Disease (2005, Joseph Henry Press), which features new material on brain development, emotional memory, and the neurobiology of addiction, and The Biology of Violence: How Understanding the Brain, Behavior, and Environment Can Break the Vicious Circle of Aggression (1999, The Free Press).

To learn more about the neuroscience major, contact Debra Niehoff at debra.niehoff@bucks.edu or 215-504-8627.

Jean Dolan
Assistant Director, Public Relations