Neuropsychology Ph.D. Programs – Everything You Need to Know in 2024

At a glance

Summary A PhD in neuropsychology is an advanced academic degree focused on the study of brain-behavior relationships, emphasizing the understanding of how neurological conditions and injuries affect cognition and behavior.
Entry Requirements Master’s degree in psychology or a related field
Completion Time 5-7 years
Coursework & Credits 90-120 credits, including coursework in fundamentals of neuropsychology, neuroscience, neuroanatomy, cognitive neuropsychology, clinical neuropsychology and psychopharmacology.
Cost $15,000 – $50,000 per year
Post PhD Steps After earning the PhD, most individuals need to become licensed to practice as psychologists, which entails additional supervised hours and passing a licensing exam.
Career Opportunities Neuropsychologist, researcher, professor
Earning Potential $82,333+ annually


A PhD in neuropsychology is an advanced academic degree that delves into the intricate relationship between the brain and behavior. It encompasses a comprehensive study of how different neurological conditions, injuries, and disorders affect cognitive functions and behaviors. This intensive program integrates both theoretical and applied knowledge, ensuring that students are well-equipped to understand the complexities of the human brain and its impact on behavior and cognition.

The journey to earning a PhD in neuropsychology typically spans between 5 to 7 years, although the duration can vary based on individual progress and institutional requirements. Throughout this period, students immerse themselves in a rigorous curriculum that covers a broad spectrum of topics. Common areas of study include neuroanatomy, cognitive neuropsychology, clinical neuropsychology, neuropsychological assessment, neuroscience, and research methods. Additionally, candidates are often required to undergo clinical training and produce a dissertation grounded in original research.

Upon successful completion, many choose to work as clinical neuropsychologists, diagnosing and treating individuals with neurological challenges. Others opt for roles in research, either in academic settings or with pharmaceutical companies, delving deeper into the mysteries of the brain. The academic realm offers positions as professors, while some graduates venture into forensic neuropsychology, healthcare administration, or even science writing. The versatility of the degree ensures that its holders can find fulfilling roles in diverse sectors, all centered around the profound understanding of the brain’s influence on behavior.

Why get a PhD in Neuropsychology?

A PhD in neuropsychology is an excellent choice for students who are interested in the intersection of psychology and neuroscience. This degree will provide you with the knowledge and skills to conduct cutting-edge research on the brain-behavior relationship, as well as the clinical skills to assess and treat people with neuropsychological disorders. With a PhD in neuropsychology, you can pursue a variety of rewarding careers in academia, research, clinical practice, and public policy.
Dr. David T. Moore, a neuropsychologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco

There are a multitude of reasons why students pursue a PhD in neuropsychology, here are a few key reasons to consider it:

Expertise in a Growing Field

Neuropsychology is a rapidly expanding field, with increased recognition of the importance of brain-behavior relationships in various medical, educational, and legal settings. The demand for expertise in understanding neurological conditions and their impacts on cognition and behavior has surged. By pursuing a PhD in neuropsychology, students position themselves at the forefront of this blossoming domain, armed with the in-depth knowledge and skills essential for leading the next wave of discoveries and interventions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of psychologists, which includes neuropsychologists, is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029. The increasing demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and social service agencies will drive employment growth.

Diverse Career Opportunities

A PhD in neuropsychology opens doors to a multitude of career paths, ensuring flexibility and adaptability in the job market. From clinical practice and academic research to consultancy roles in legal and corporate settings, the range of jobs available to neuropsychologists is both broad and varied. This diversity ensures that graduates have numerous avenues to explore based on their interests and strengths, making the degree exceptionally versatile.

The American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that in 2020, about 58% of doctorate recipients in psychology had a full-time job position waiting upon graduation, reflecting the diverse opportunities available in the field.

Potential for High Earnings and Job Satisfaction

Investing in a PhD in neuropsychology can lead to significant financial and personal rewards. Those with advanced degrees in the field often command higher salaries and have a greater range of job opportunities compared to those with just a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Moreover, the profound impact neuropsychologists can have on their patients’ lives, from diagnosing conditions to providing treatments, offers a level of job satisfaction that is both meaningful and fulfilling.

Entry requirements for a Neuropsychology PhD program

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: Typically in neuroscience, psychology or a related field, though some programs may accept applicants from other disciplines if they’ve completed prerequisite courses.
  2. Master’s Degree: Some programs prefer or require a master’s degree in psychology or a related field, while others will accept students directly from a bachelor’s program.
  3. Grade Point Average (GPA): Many programs have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0.
  4. Letters of Recommendation: Typically from professors, researchers, or professionals familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or clinical work.
  5. Background Check: Given the nature of clinical work, some programs might require a background check before final admission.

What’s covered in a Neuropsychology PhD program?

A PhD in neuropsychology is a research-intensive degree that covers the biological, psychological, and social aspects of brain-behavior relationships. Students learn about the anatomy and physiology of the brain, the development of the brain, the effects of brain damage, and the cognitive and behavioral consequences of neurological disorders. They also learn how to conduct research in neuropsychology, using methods such as neuropsychological assessment, neuroimaging, and neurogenetics. In addition to coursework, students typically complete a dissertation on a topic of their choosing. A PhD in neuropsychology prepares students for careers in research, clinical practice, and education.
Dr. Robert L. Hesse, a neuropsychologist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles

A Neuropsychology PhD program provides students with an in-depth understanding of the relationship between the brain and behavior. Here are some areas that are typically covered:

  1. Foundations of Neuropsychology: This offers an introduction to the field, covering historical developments, key concepts, and the primary challenges and questions driving current research.
  2. Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology: Detailed exploration of the structure and function of the nervous system, with an emphasis on regions of the brain associated with specific cognitive and behavioral functions.
  3. Cognitive Neuropsychology: Examines the cognitive consequences of brain injuries or diseases, covering topics like memory, attention, language, and executive functions.
  4. Clinical Neuropsychology: Introduces students to the practices and methods used to assess and treat individuals with brain injuries or disorders.
  5. Developmental Neuropsychology: Study of how cognitive functions and the brain develop over a lifespan, from infancy to old age.
  6. Neuropsychological Assessment: Covers the tools, tests, and techniques used to evaluate cognitive and behavioral functions, and how these assessments inform diagnosis and treatment.
  7. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation: Explores methods and interventions to help individuals recover or adapt to cognitive deficits.
  8. Research Methods and Statistics in Neuropsychology: Provides training in experimental design, data collection, and statistical analysis specifically tailored to neuropsychological research.
  9. Neuroimaging and Neurodiagnostics: An introduction to the tools and methods, like fMRI or PET scans, used to visualize and measure brain structure and activity.
  10. Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders: Focuses on conditions like ADHD, autism, and Down syndrome, examining their neurological underpinnings and manifestations.
  11. Neuropathology: Study of diseases that affect brain tissue, including neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
  12. Psychopharmacology: Understanding of how various drugs affect the brain and behavior, and how they can be used in treatment.
  13. Ethics in Neuropsychological Research and Practice: Addresses the ethical considerations in conducting research and in clinical practice.
  14. Specialized Seminars and Electives: Topics can vary widely but may include areas like sports-related brain injuries, advanced neuroimaging techniques, or the neuropsychology of emotion.
  15. Clinical Practicum and Internships: Real-world experience in clinical settings, offering students hands-on practice in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment under supervision.
  16. Dissertation Research: Students typically conduct original research, culminating in a written dissertation that they defend before a committee.

Here’s a sample curriculum for a PhD program in neuropsychology:


First Year

Semester 1:

  1. Introduction to Neuropsychology
  2. Neuroanatomy and Basic Neurophysiology
  3. Research Methods in Neuropsychology I
  4. Cognitive Psychology Foundations
  5. Clinical Practicum I

Semester 2:

  1. Cognitive Neuropsychology
  2. Advanced Neurophysiology
  3. Statistics in Neuropsychological Research I
  4. Developmental Neuropsychology
  5. Clinical Practicum II

Second Year

Semester 1:

  1. Clinical Neuropsychology I
  2. Neuropsychological Assessment I
  3. Psychopharmacology
  4. Neuroimaging Techniques
  5. Research Seminar I

Semester 2:

  1. Clinical Neuropsychology II
  2. Neuropsychological Assessment II
  3. Ethics in Neuropsychological Research and Practice
  4. Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders
  5. Research Seminar II

Third Year

Semester 1:

  1. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation
  2. Advanced Topics in Cognitive Neuropsychology
  3. Neurodegenerative Diseases and Neuropathology
  4. Clinical Practicum III
  5. Dissertation Research I

Semester 2:

  1. Advanced Neuroimaging and Diagnostics
  2. Clinical Neuropsychology Case Studies
  3. Neuropsychology of Emotion
  4. Clinical Practicum IV
  5. Dissertation Research II

Fourth Year

Semester 1:

  1. Neuropsychology in Legal Settings (Forensic Neuropsychology)
  2. Specialized Seminar (e.g., Sports-related Brain Injuries)
  3. Advanced Psychopharmacology
  4. Clinical Internship I
  5. Dissertation Research III

Semester 2:

  1. Pediatric Neuropsychology
  2. Advanced Seminar on Genetics and Neuropsychology
  3. Research Methods in Neuropsychology II
  4. Clinical Internship II
  5. Dissertation Research IV

Fifth Year (and possibly beyond)

Throughout the Year:

  1. Clinical Internship III (Advanced)
  2. Dissertation Writing and Defense
  3. Optional: Specialized electives or additional seminars based on research focus.

How much does a PhD in Neuropsychology cost?

The cost of a PhD in Neuropsychology varies based on several factors, including the type of institution, location, and program duration. Public universities typically have lower tuition for in-state students, with costs ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 annually, while out-of-state students may pay more. In contrast, private institutions might charge between $25,000 to $50,000 or even higher per year in tuition and fees.

Another significant consideration is the availability of funding packages. Many PhD programs offer financial packages that can include tuition waivers, stipends, and health benefits in exchange for teaching or research assistantships. The extent and type of funding can differ substantially among institutions, with many students in neuropsychology programs often having a large portion, if not all, of their tuition covered.

Apart from tuition, prospective students should also account for other expenses such as books, supplies, fees, and living costs. It’s crucial to research individual programs, ascertain available funding opportunities, and evaluate the overall financial commitment before enrolling.

What to look for in a PhD program

It can be overwhelming with so many PhD programs out there and so many factors to consider. Choosing a program in neuropsychology is a significant decision that will impact the trajectory of your career. Here are a few key ways to compare programs/institutions:

Program Funding and Financial Support

Fully funded programs, which include tuition waivers and stipends, can drastically reduce student debt and allow students to focus on their studies. The National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates found that over 75% of research doctorate recipients in psychology reported no education-related debt, largely due to funding availability in their programs.

Program Duration and Flexibility

The length of a program and its ability to accommodate part-time students or offer flexible schedules can be vital, especially for those balancing work, family, or other commitments.

According to the APA, the median time to complete a doctorate in psychology has been around 7 years. However, some programs, especially those designed for working professionals, might offer accelerated tracks or part-time options, which can affect this duration.

Location and Access to Clinical Populations

Being in a location that provides access to diverse clinical populations or specific groups that align with a student’s research interests can be invaluable for hands-on training and research.

A report from the APA emphasized the importance of diversity in clinical training. Programs located in urban settings or areas with diverse communities can offer broader exposure and experience in multicultural clinical practice, which is essential if you intend to practice clinically after your neuropsychology degree.

Program Curriculum and Specializations

The curriculum and available specializations should align with a student’s career and research interests.

In a survey by the APA, PhD recipients emphasized the importance of finding a program that matched their specific interests, as this played a crucial role in their eventual job satisfaction and career trajectory.

Internship Placement and Post-Graduation Outcomes

High-quality internship placements and positive post-graduation outcomes can significantly influence a graduate’s early career.

The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) provides data on internship match rates. Programs with high match rates to APA-accredited internships often signal strong training and preparation.

What jobs can you do with a PhD in Neuropsychology?

  1. Clinical Neuropsychologist: This is one of the most direct career paths. Clinical neuropsychologists assess and treat individuals with brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases, and other neurological disorders. They often work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and private practices.
  2. Academic Researcher: PhD holders can pursue positions in universities or research institutes where they conduct studies on brain-behavior relationships, cognitive functions, or neurological disorders.
  3. Professor/Lecturer: With a PhD, individuals can teach neuropsychology and related courses at undergraduate and graduate levels in colleges and universities.
  4. Forensic psychologist: These professionals use their expertise in legal settings, assessing cognitive and psychological functions in criminal cases, personal injury lawsuits, or competency evaluations.
  5. Pediatric Neuropsychologist: Specializing in assessing and treating cognitive and behavioral issues in children and adolescents, they might work in children’s hospitals, schools, or private practices.
  6. Rehabilitation Specialist: These individuals design and implement strategies to help patients recover cognitive functions after traumatic brain injuries, strokes, or other neurological incidents.
  7. Pharmaceutical or Biotech Researcher: With a background in brain function and behavior, neuropsychologists can work with companies developing drugs or interventions for neurological disorders.
  8. Neuroimaging Specialist: Using techniques like fMRI, PET, or EEG, these professionals analyze brain activity and structure, often collaborating with researchers or clinicians.
  9. Consultant: Some neuropsychologists work in industries such as marketing, where knowledge of cognition and behavior can help shape consumer research and strategies.
  10. Healthcare Administrator: For those interested in the organizational side of healthcare, a background in neuropsychology can be beneficial in roles overseeing clinical services or developing treatment programs in hospitals or clinics.
  11. Science Writer or Communicator: Combining expertise in neuropsychology with strong communication skills, individuals can write articles, books, or produce media content for general audiences, educational institutions, or scientific communities.
  12. Policy Advisor: Governments and nonprofits might seek the expertise of neuropsychologists when crafting health policies, guidelines, or public health campaigns related to brain health.

How much can you earn with a PhD in Neuropsychology?

Below you will find the average annual salary for job roles commonly held by those with a PhD in Neuropsychology. The overall average salary for a holder of this degree is $82,333 per year.

  1. Clinical Neuropsychologist: $90,000
  2. Academic Researcher: $75,000
  3. Professor/Lecturer: $80,000 (This varies greatly based on rank, institution, and tenure.)
  4. Forensic Neuropsychologist: $95,000
  5. Pediatric Neuropsychologist: $92,000
  6. Rehabilitation Specialist: $78,000
  7. Pharmaceutical or Biotech Researcher: $85,000
  8. Neuroimaging Specialist: $82,000
  9. Consultant: $87,000 (This varies greatly based on industry and expertise.)
  10. Healthcare Administrator: $98,000
  11. Science Writer or Communicator: $60,000
  12. Policy Advisor: $70,000