The Graduate Neuroscience Program offers training leading to the Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience. The Neuroscience Program emphasizes systems and integrative approaches, and our goal is to provide the students with the necessary background to be broadly trained research neuroscientists and to carry out independent research in neuroscience. The Neuroscience Program emphasizes continuing interaction with faculty from several departments and we have a low student to faculty ratio. Advisors spend considerable time supervising and training each doctoral student. The educational philosophy of the Neuroscience Program is to encourage a problem-oriented rather than a strict discipline-bound approach to research. You will emerge from this program with the scientific and experimental training needed to comprehensively address a very wide range of research questions using a variety of techniques and analytic tools.
The Graduate Neuroscience Program is designed to enable graduate students to acquire competence in the various disciplines necessary for research and teaching careers in neuroscience. The current interests of the Neuroscience faculty include sensory neurophysiology, behavioral neuropharmacology, neurodevelopment, neurodegeneration, and synaptic plasticity.
Students and faculty have access to outstanding resources established by NIH Neuroscience and Sensory Biology Core grants. The Microscopy Core houses both light (Zeiss laser scanning, fluorescent) and electron (Transmission and Scanning) microscopes. Resources needed to conduct research ranging from molecular, cellular circuit level to behavior are readily available within the Neuroscience Center.
Doctoral Program Admission Minimum Requirements
- GRE: 153 on the verbal reasoning sections and a score of at least 144 on the quantitative reasoning section is required;
- GPA: 3.000 (4.000 scale);
- Three favorable letters of recommendation;
- Bachelor’s degree in a biological science from an accredited institution;
- Statement of research interests and career objectives. We recommend that students study the Neuroscience faculty web sites and contact faculty regarding openings and shared research interests.
You will be best prepared for our program if you have successfully completed courses in neuroscience, chemistry, biology, physiology, and cell/molecular biology. Students may be admitted with deficiencies in some of the areas if they are strong in many or all others. If so, the student’s advisory committee will determine what additional work is necessary during the first year to correct any deficiency.
Program Specific Degree Requirements
All doctoral Neuroscience students are required to complete a program of core classwork that includes the following required courses: Introduction to Neuroscience, Structure and Function of the Nervous System and Neurophysiology. Students are required to take one course in Statistics (e.g. STAT 5050 , STAT 5210 ) and the course that meets this requirement will be arranged with the student’s committee. The statistics requirement must be met by the end of the second year. The Neuroscience Program is a research-oriented program and students are expected to take a minimum of 2 to 3 credit hours of research per semester. Students are also expected to enroll in an on-going Seminar in Neuroscience. The Neuroscience Seminar, which meets weekly and is attended by students and faculty members, provides an opportunity for intellectual and social exchange, as well as for the development of professional skills in critical thinking. The topic for seminar and the faculty member directing the seminar changes each semester. The remainder of the coursework for the doctor of philosophy degree is selected from designated courses in Neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, and molecular biology. A grade of B or better is required for all Neuroscience courses.
A student is expected to have a graduate adviser at all times. The faculty adviser must be a participating member of the Neuroscience faculty. The adviser is responsible for directing the student’s research and academic coursework. During the second year, the student will have an advisory committee. The advisory committee will consist of at least three neuroscience faculty members and an outside member. Normally, the student’s adviser will chair the committee and help identify members of the committee who best match the student’s area of interest. The role of the advisory committee is to oversee all aspects of the student’s education after the first year.
Students give two public research presentations 6-12 months before the preliminary and final defense exams. In the student’s second or third year, the advisory committee will set and evaluate the student’s qualifying examination. After successful completion of the preliminary examination the student will profess to Ph.D. candidate status.
The dissertation is the single most important component of the graduate program. It reports the results and significance of the student’s research. In addition to the written dissertation, the doctoral candidate will deliver a formal seminar based on their research. The seminar will be followed by an examination by the student’s advisory committee.