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