How Long Is the Training to Become a Brain Surgeon?

Becoming a brain surgeon, also known as a neurosurgeon, is one of the most demanding and prestigious paths in the field of medicine. The training is extensive, designed to equip surgeons with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform complex surgeries on the brain, spine, and other parts of the nervous system.

Undergraduate Education

The journey to becoming a neurosurgeon begins with completing an undergraduate degree. This typically takes four years and, although no specific major is required, most candidates choose to major in fields like biology, chemistry, or neuroscience. Excelling in this phase is crucial, as medical school admissions are highly competitive and require a strong academic record.

Medical School

After obtaining an undergraduate degree, the next step is medical school, which usually lasts four years. The first two years generally focus on classroom-based education in the medical sciences, while the last two years are more clinically focused, involving rotations in various medical specialties.


Upon graduating from medical school, the specific training for neurosurgery begins with a residency program. Neurosurgery residency is one of the longest and most rigorous, typically lasting seven years. During this period, residents are immersed in intense practical and theoretical training, covering a wide range of neurosurgical procedures and techniques.


After completing residency, some neurosurgeons choose to specialize further by pursuing a fellowship. These can last one to two years and focus on specific subfields such as pediatric neurosurgery, spine surgery, or cerebrovascular surgery. Fellowships are optional but can be crucial for neurosurgeons aiming to specialize in a particular area of the field.

Board Certification

Following residency, neurosurgeons must obtain board certification from the American Board of Neurological Surgery, which involves passing a rigorous exam. Certification is a testament to their competence and is essential for practicing independently.

Total Duration of Training

Overall, the path to becoming a neurosurgeon can take between 14 to 16 years after high school, including undergraduate study, medical school, residency, and possibly fellowship. This extensive training is necessary due to the complexity and delicacy of the surgeries performed by neurosurgeons.

For those curious about how long is school for neurosurgeon, it's a long-term commitment that requires a significant amount of time, dedication, and resilience. This extended period of training ensures that neurosurgeons are well-prepared to handle the challenges of their demanding profession.

In summary, the road to becoming a neurosurgeon is long and challenging but ultimately rewarding, leading to a career that is not only prestigious but also critically important to patient care in the medical field.

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