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Neuroscience and Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Degree Information & Requirements

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Degree Information & Requirements

Students enroll in the program with different preparations and with different goals, so we seek to keep the structure as flexible as possible instead of taking a cookie-cutter approach to course selection.  The open structure demands the student make thoughtful decisions about courses beyond the core requirements. Decisions about specialization do not need to be made right away if you are unsure, but you should be thinking about this soon.

Basic things to know about registration and course requirements:

  1. The MS degree requires that you take 32 credits at Columbia University, of which 20 must be taken at Teachers College (i.e., you can take up to 12 of your credits at other locations in the university such as Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), Columbia Medical School etc.). For example, courses taken in the Psychology Department on the Main Campus are GSAS rather than Teachers College.

  2. There are only a few stipulated core requirements in the degree (see below), some of which can be met by previous courses taken at the undergraduate or graduate level.  You should check with me if these courses satisfy the core requirements.  However, you will still need to take 32 credits at TC/Columbia. If you have taken another degree or non-matriculated courses at Teachers College, you might be able to count some of your credits toward the MS degree in neuroscience.  Check with me on these questions.

  3. The program requirements consist of the following area requirements:

A. Core Courses in Neurosciences

Students will little or no prior training in basic brain anatomy and physiology can take the two courses offered in our department: Brain and Behavior 1 and 2. However, these courses are in the Spring and Summer terms. It is recommended that students with no prior neuroscience training enroll in the summer offering of Brain and Behavior. If this is not possible, then students should arrange for at least an undergraduate level introductory course at a college outside of the TC system.  While undergraduate courses available within Columbia College are not eligible to count toward the MS degree, they can, however, fulfill the requirements.

Advanced Preparation in Neurosciences

Some students choose to take more advanced courses in the neurosciences offered at the medical school and in the department of Psychology.  Entry into these courses is subject to the requirements of those programs. Please see Peter Gordon if you are thinking of taking this course.

B. Educational and Research/Clinical Applications and Specialization in the Neurosciences

The interface between research and education requires that students focus on a particular content area that is relevant to some specialized aspect of educational research. This can be in areas of reading, mathematics, developmental disabilities, special education, motor development, art, music, science, technology, or educational policy – Pretty much anything that TC has to offer in the way of content areas.  Some students take further in-depth study of neuroscience itself to be the content area that they wish to specialize in and seek more courses in the GSAS and the Medical School.

C. Preparation in Development / Psychological / Cognitive Processes

Developmental and Cognitive Psychology are considered the core content areas that relate brain function to education.  Students should take at least one course in each area, and are encouraged to take more as desired.  Previous courses taken at the undergraduate level in these areas can be used to fulfill this requirement. Note: students should review course syllabi carefully to assess connections to cognitive neuroscience, neurobiology, and neuropsychology. Classes in this area are offered in the Departments of Biobehavioral Sciences at Teachers College and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Graduate Program in Psychology.

D. Preparation in Research Design, Statistical Analysis and/or Clinical Assessment

The Neuroscience and Education program is “science-based” and therefore requires a working knowledge of the logic and tools required for empirical research.  Students should take a sequence of courses in research design and statistical methods if they have no such preparation as undergraduates. 

Training in Brain Imaging: EEG, eye tracking, and fMRI

The Neuroscience program offers a course taught by Dr. Froud introducing high-density EEG/ERP methods. The EEG course is offered as an intensive course, generally offered as a half-semester in the Spring and/or Summer based on demand.

Professor Gordon introduced a course in eye-tracking methods in 2011 in the Language and Cognition Lab. The course aims to explore the theory and methods associated with the use of eye tracking in cognitive research. Students will learn to use TOBII and ASL eye trackers and will design, run and analyze an experiment employing these technologies.  In addition, we will learn to use other dynamic event recording systems, including ELAN, MACSHAPA, PRAAT and CHILDES.

The Neuroscience & Education program is currently developing a class that will be offered at Teachers College by Georgia Malandraki, Ph.D. Students can also participate in intensive fMRI (and other methods) trainings offered by the Martinos Center in Boston and register for independent study credits at Teachers College. Speak with Peter if you are interested in opportunities like this.

E. Integrative Seminar, Practicum / Thesis

The Integrative Seminar (Spring Term)           

The integrative seminar is offered in the Spring Term and represents a forum for students to actively engage in the evaluation of empirical research in the neurosciences, learn to present critiques using power point presentations, to develop ideas about a thesis topic, to understand the process of doing research, to understand and practice the process of grant writing, and to think about relations between neuroscience and education.  As part of this process, students form into groups and develop projects as part of “Brain Awareness Week”.  These projects are taken into local schools and presented to children in classrooms.

Practicum Lab / Field Experience

Students are expected to affiliate themselves with a research or clinical setting that relates to neurosciences and education in some way (not necessarily directly).  Students might use their existing jobs in this endeavor, they might seek out labs within the city to volunteer for, or they might volunteer to work in labs of faculty members in the program.


The thesis is completed at the end of the program of study and is normally a report on the experiences obtained during the practicum training. The format of the report should be in APA style and be written as an academic paper.  Some students may choose the more ambitious route and develop their own independent research projects.

Please note that to remain in good standing, students are expected to obtain a grade of B or better in the intro-level course in neuroscience or brain and behavior. 

This information has been provided by the program. For official degree information of Neuroscience and Education Program please see TC's Academic Catalog.