MicroDegree in Psychological Neuroscience


YES! Now you can earn a degree outside of the university. Actually, this isn’t entirely new. The concept of MicroDegrees* was popularized by the MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) platform Coursera. MOOCs are taught primarily by university professors but offered to a massive student based because they are online. MOOCs have been an excellent way to make education more accessible to more people and without having to complete a whole degree, offering instead, single courses, certificates, and more recently, microdegrees. These innovations in post-secondary education have disrupted the standard model, with good reason. The standard model is old and outdated and is not flexible enough to account for emerging ideas and areas of interest. But neither MOOCs or the conventional system are good at providing mentorship and personalized individual learning support. The loss of mentorship and individual work with professors (who are still experts in their fields) is a huge missing component to a good education. That’s where CAN and I (Mandy Wintink, with a PhD in Neuroscience and Psychology) come in. Having been part of the conventional system for over 2 decades and an education advocate and innovator for almost as long, I see the value in having students study deeply with a mentor who is an expert in the field of study of interest. So that’s what we are launching! A new MicroDegree* in Psychological Neuroscience.


Thesis Class: The thesis class will be a group of up to 5 students who will meet once a month online for 6 classes to survey 5 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 of study for the 2019-2020 classes 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 and student presentations as is typically done in graduate school and upper level undergraduate classes. Discussions will always follow. Thesis Class will start in May and end in December.

Thesis Research & Writing: The second part will be where students choose a topic of their particular interest and work under the supervision of their thesis professor to develop their topic into a 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 (January through till May). 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) in May/June. The written thesis will also be submitted to the professor for feedback and revisions. A final thesis document will be submitted.

Thesis Class Topics

Drugs (e.g., Marijuana, Alcohol, Caffeine)

Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety, PTSD)

Neurological Diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s, Stroke, PD?)

Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

Social Media, Technology, and the Brain

Tuition Fees


Application Process

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 (drwintink@canc.ca). 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 first 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, I assume as a way of getting around that. I’m not sure how that will go. I tell you all this because I cannot guarantee that CAN will be able to continue to use these terms. I am VERY confident that we will continue to be able to use MicroDegree, but the other two are less certain. You, on the other hand, could likely still use this regardless. And I will always be happy to send a letter of support of your work if we are no longer able to call them this on our website.