MicroDegree in Psychological Neuroscience
In a nutshell: Pursue neuroscience education and earn credentials through the Centre for Applied Neuroscience in a mentorship-based format with Professor Dr. Mandy Wintink, PhD.
What is a MicroDegree?
The concept of MicroDegrees was popularized by the MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) platform Coursera. MOOCs are taught primarily by university professors who have appointments at other institutions but offered to a massive student group because they are online. MOOCs have been an excellent way to make education more accessible to more people, without people having to complete a whole degree. MicroDegrees offer instead single courses, certificates, and more recently, MicroDegrees. These innovations in post-secondary education have disrupted the standard model, for good reason. The standard model is old and outdated and is not flexible enough to account for emerging ideas and areas of interest. That being said, there is a still a gap that we feel needs filling: Mentorship! Neither MOOCs or the conventional system are good at providing mentorship around personalized individual learning objectives. The loss of mentorship and individual study with professors (who are still experts in their fields) is a valuable piece of learning material deeply. That’s where CAN and (Mandy Wintink, the one with a PhD in Neuroscience and Psychology) come in. Having been part of the conventional university system for over 2 decades and an education innovator for even longer, Mandy sees the value in having students study deeply with a mentor who is an expert in the field of study of interest so that students can be guided to fill their own knowledge gaps and interests. To provide that service, we launched a MicroDegree in Psychological Neuroscience studyship.
This course is a 13 month course, with meetings happening once a month.
Part 1: Class
The class will be a small group students (max 5) who will meet once a month online (or in person when possible) with Dr. Wintink to survey general neuroscience and psychology topics of current relevance. The topics of the class are chosen with the purpose to provide students with a good overview of important concepts in neuroscience and psychology and for the students to feel confident in their new credentials. A full list of the topics are listed below. During this class students will be expected to review the curated content (e.g., scientific articles, books, lectures) distributed by the professor prior to each class. Each class will involve a combination of lecture by the professor, student presentations, and facilitated discussions as is typically done in graduate school and upper level undergraduate classes. The class will consist of six 3-hour classes, during a 6-month period.
Part 2: Thesis
The second half of the course is where students choose a topic of their particular interest and work under the direct supervision of their thesis professor to develop their topic into a written thesis. Here, students will no longer meet as a group (until the very end) but instead, will meet individually with their professor once a month for the next 5 months. The professor will provide support for the student to shape the thesis, source information, discuss resources and content, and eventually prepare the learning for a thesis document to be written and presented to the thesis class (including the professor).
Students will meet with their classmates monthly for the first 6 months of their MicroDegree to discuss the following topics:
Drugs (e.g., Marijuana, Alcohol, Caffeine)
Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Personality Disorders, Autism Spectrum, etc.)
Neurological Diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.)
Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
Social Media, Technology, and the Brain
The students will be introduced to the overall topic and then choose a subtopic to study more in-depth on their own. Students will be directed to specific resources and use a set of guiding questions and have one month to learn about their topic. They will return after a month and present on their topics to the rest of the class.
Thesis topics will be chosen under consultation with the professor. They may be extensions of topics studied during the first 6 months of the course or they may be entirely different topics. Together, the student and the professor will determine a topic that is both of deep interest to the student and one that is manageable to tackle in a 6-month period. Students may start with an idea of what they are interested in pursuing as a thesis topic or wait to survey neuroscience topics before choosing. Ultimately, the topics should be of sincere interest to the student.
Upcoming Courses Accepting Applications:
Course In Progress:
May 2019 - June 2020
Those interested in applying for a MicroDegree should submit a letter (or email) of interest, a current copy of their CV/Resume inclusive of all education experience directly to Dr. Mandy Wintink (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications will be reviewed beginning March 1st, 2019. An interview may be required as part of the application process. Acceptances will be emailed by April 15th. Space is limited to 5 students for the 2019-2020 year.
Proven ability to succeed in post-secondary learning, which may include a university degree, college, diploma, or multiple certificates/certifications (e.g., MOOCs courses, other online education, continuing education courses or certificates, etc.).
MicroBachelors in Psychological Neuroscience: Those without an undergraduate degree may apply for a MicroDegree as a MicroBachelors*.
MicroMasters in Psychological Neuroscience: Those who have an undergraduate university degree, may apply for a MicroDegree as a MicroMasters*.
These terms are currently being used in the MOOCs community. MOOCs are Massive Online Open Courses (e.g., Coursera, EdX, Udacity). The term MicroDegree was coined by MIT and Harvard in partnership with Coursera. They attempted to trademark it, despite saying that it would be open for others to use. As far as I can find, their application for trademark was not granted and the term is allowed for general use. They currently do have an application submitted for trademark for MicroBacherlors and MicroMasters (as of the winter of 2019) but it is uncertain if they will earn trademark status. The Centre for Applied Neuroscience cannot guarantee that it will be able to continue to use these terms if the trademark application on MicroBachelors and MicroMasters is approved. However, we are VERY confident that we will continue to be able to use MicroDegree. You, on the other hand, could likely still use this regardless and regardless, we will support the education you students do with us, nonetheless.