Prospective students

Curriculum

The neuroscience graduate program offers an interdepartmental, integrated curriculum for graduate study leading to the Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. The curriculum consists of a set of core courses and electives which are customized for each student to best complement their individual research interests. The goal of the curriculum is to provide students with a core of knowledge of the basic structure and function of the central nervous system, while allowing flexibility in the choice of their electives.

First year, Fall semseter:
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
Critical Thinking
Neuroscience Research Seminar
Laboratory Research Rotations

First year, Spring semester:
Systems Neuroscience
Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
Critical Thinking
Neuroscience Research Seminar
Laboratory Research Rotations

Summer following the first year:
Work in the research laboratory of their chosen thesis advisor
Directed Research

Second year, Fall semester:
Scientific Integrity
Neuroscience Research Seminar
Neuroscience Journal Club and Research Presentations
Directed Research
Elective

Second year, Spring semester:
Techniques in Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Scientific Writing and Grantsmanship
Neuroscience Research Seminar
Neuroscience Journal Club and Research Presentations
Directed Research
Elective

Third year and beyond:
Neuroscience Research Seminar
Neuroscience Journal Club and Research Presentations
Directed Research

Written Candidacy Exam

The written exam consists of two parts. The first is an open-book written exam which is designed to: (1) assess the student’s ability to integrate course material and (2) demonstrate critical thinking and evaluation of the literature in the basic health sciences related to student’s area of research. This part is based on a question provided to the student by their adviser and graduate advisory committee. The answer should be 25 to 35 pages in length and must represent the student’s unaided work. This section of the exam is graded as pass/fail, and must be completed by June 30 of the second year.

For the second part, the student will prepare an NIH-style grant proposal based on their research plan. This proposal will form the basis of the oral candidacy exam. Students are strongly encouraged to submit their proposals for extramural funding, (e.g., NIH Predoctoral Fellowships) where appropriate.

Oral Candidacy Exam

After successful completion of both parts of the written candidacy exam, the student’s graduate adviser committee will administer the oral candidacy examination, which entails an oral defense of the student’s grant proposal as well as the topics covered in part one of the written candidacy exam. The oral candidacy exam covers: (1) coursework related to the student’s proposed research; (2) the literature cited in or related to the proposal and (3) the hypotheses, research techniques and procedures presented in the proposal. Successful completion of the oral candidacy exam advances the student to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The oral candidacy exam must be completed prior to the beginning of the third year.

Students must achieve a grade of B or better in all courses; otherwise, they will be required to re-take that course. Students must maintain a 3.0 overall cumulative grade-point average to continue in the doctoral program.

Third academic year and beyond

There is no expectation of the time required to complete the doctoral degree. Beginning with the spring semester of his or her third year in the graduate program, the student will devote their full time to conducting research in his or her adviser’s laboratory. Students also register for neuroscience research seminar each semester.

At the appropriate time in their research, the student will prepare a dissertation and schedule a final oral defense of the thesis. The final oral examination (defense of the dissertation) will be limited to the subject of the candidate’s dissertation and related basic science.

Common Elective Courses

Students select two electives which best correspond to their research interests.  Common electives are listed below.

Functional and Clinical Neuroanatomy (ANAT-608)
Developmental Neurobiology (ANAT-617)
Synaptic Organization of the Brain (NEUS-619)
Neurobiology of CNS Diseases (NEUS-640)
Cell Physiology Molecules to Organisms I (PHIS-604)
Cell Physiology Molecules to Organisms II (PHIS-606)
Cellular Signaling (PHIS-617)
Ion Channels in Membranes (PHIS-620)
Mitochondrial Pathophysiology (PHIS-691)
Principles of Pharmacology I (PHTX-536)
Principles of Pharmacology II (PHTX-537)
Neurochemical Pharmacology (PHTX-632)
Statistics (BIOS-543)

Required Programmatic Courses

The following first-year courses are required for all Ph.D. students admitted through the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal.

Laboratory Safety (IBMS-600)
Laboratory Rotations (IBMS-620)