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Effective September 1, 2021, the Department of Biology has been reorganized into three new departments.
Please go to our new websites for the most current information.

Welcome to the Neuroscience PhD Program

The Neuroscience PhD program offers a structured curriculum plus extensive mentoring and support to help students complete their degree in five years. The program has sufficient flexibility that students can pursue a course of study tailored to their research interests.


Year 1

Milestones: Select a research lab; pass written qualifying exam (QE)

  • Core Courses: Systems Neuroscience; Molecular Neuroscience
  • QE Prep Courses: PhD students meet one hour per week with core instructors to develop the critical thinking and writing skills needed to pass the written QE
  • Elective Courses (1 course per semester): First year electives provide foundational knowledge for research success and must be approved by the Graduate Advisor of Record
    • Students pursuing systems level research generally take Quantitative Biology and Neural Electrophysiology
    • Students pursuing cell and molecular level research generally take Principles of Cell Biology and Principles of Molecular Biology
  • Research Rotations (three 10-11 week rotations over the first year): Students select a home research lab at the end of the first year
  • Neuro Colloquium: 1 hour student-led meeting where students discuss papers, practice presentations, and discuss research
Year 2

Milestones: Write and orally defend a research proposal (oral qualifying exam)

  • Core Courses (2): Principles of Scientific Writing; Supervised Teaching
  • Elective Courses (2): Students must take Quantitative Biology if they did not take it in year 1
  • Neuro Colloquium
Year 3

Milestones: Assemble Dissertation Committee; submit fellowship proposal

  • Neuro Colloquium
Year 3-5
  • Dissertation Research: Students meet with the Dissertation Committee and submit a progress report at least once a semester
Year 5-6
  • Dissertation Defense: Students present a public lecture followed by a private oral defense of the thesis with the Dissertation Committee


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