We are excited to announce that the University of Alabama College of Education will soon start offering a B.Sc. Major in Educational Neuroscience. The undergraduate program in educational neuroscience was approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education on September 15th and by The University of Alabama Board of Trustees on September 21st. The program will be the first of its kind in the world and will start enrolling students in the Fall 2020 semester.

Educational neuroscience is an emerging transdisciplinary field incorporating methods and perspectives from psychological and brain sciences, and education. Its principle goals are (1) to explore biological mechanisms that underlie learning and cognition, (2) to inquire how these mechanisms interact with individual and socio-cultural factors relevant to education, and (3) to develop evidence-based practices in teaching and designing learning environments.

Given its transdisciplinary nature educational neuroscience requires a foot in two worlds: psychological and brain sciences, and education. In 2014, the University of Alabama started a PhD Concentration in Education Neuroscience, under the Educational Psychology Program–one of the few PhD-level educational neuroscience programs in the world. Our goal with this program is to train researchers who are skilled and knowledgeable in methodologies and theoretical perspectives in both of the originating disciplines. However, we not only need researchers but also teachers, administrators and policy-makers with a transdisciplinary training in educational neuroscience. We have developed the undergraduate major to respond to this need.

The undergraduate program provides a strong scientific foundation in the first two years and culminates with instruction in a variety of specialized topics. Additionally, the program presents the students with many opportunities to participate in research projects, starting with their first semester. In their junior and senior years students take a lab practicum course every semester, where they will work on an independent research project under faculty supervision. This will build on students’ experiences working on different projects in their first two years and will help them develop independent research skills.

Armed with an extensive theoretical foundation and strong research skills, graduates of this program will have the chance to pursue different trajectories post-graduation. We expect some of our students to continue graduate studies either in educational neuroscience or in other related fields, while others will pursue careers in health professions, public administration, private sector, non-profits, and policy. After graduating, students will also have the option to acquire a teaching certificate through one of the alternative routes to certification in a relevant field of teaching.

The new courses that will be offered under the educational neuroscience program will also be available to students in other programs in the College of Education and across campus. We are particularly interested in enhancing neuroscience literacy and overall scientific preparedness in our students.

Overall, we are very excited to have the opportunity to build a one of a kind program at UA, with the potential to train researchers and professionals with a strong scientific foundation and a unique toolset to approach educational problems. Please contact the undergraduate program coordinator, Dr. Firat Soylu (fsoylu@ua.edu) or edneuro@ua.edu  with inquiries and questions about the program. You can also visit the Educational Neuroscience Initiative website for more information.