What degree is needed to become a brain surgeon?


Quick Answer

Brain surgeons need a medical degree, which can be either a Doctor of Medicine or a Doctor of Osteopathy degree. After that, they must complete six or seven years of residency in neurosurgery. They must also pass state boards to get a license to practice medicine.

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Full Answer

For admission to medical school, the prospective medical student must first complete a bachelor's degree. The undergraduate degree can be in any academic major, but the student must take medical school prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry and physics. Neuroscience and neuropsychology are undergraduate majors that are especially relevant to aspiring brain surgeons.

The medical school degree focuses on general medicine rather than brain surgery, though the curriculum includes neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and diseases and disorders of the brain. Some schools have a program that allows students to pursue a concentration of special interest. Stanford University medical students declare a Scholarly Concentration by selecting a foundation area such as Clinical Research or Community Health and an application area such as Neuroscience, Behavior and Cognition. This does not reduce the residency requirement for brain surgeons, but it does give the student a more in-depth preparation or a special perspective on the discipline.

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