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College of Arts and Sciences

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(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)


Cross-Listed Courses

Degrees Offered
Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy

Special Program Requirements

(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)


Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The program leading to the Ph.D. degree is designed to give students the opportunity to develop the technical skills and conceptual framework necessary for a successful research career in neuroscience. Research should be viewed as the student’s greatest challenge and the major focus of the student’s energy. Training emphasis focuses on: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience; Behavioral Neuroscience; Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience; and Clinical and Translational Neuroscience. Faculty come from the Departments of Biology, Computer Science (School of Informatics and Computing), Kinesiology (School of Public Health), Medical Sciences (School of Medicine), Physics, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Speech and Hearing Sciences, and Visual Sciences (School of Optometry). Students can also draw upon course offerings through the Center for the Integra­tive Study of Animal Behavior, the Cognitive Science Program, as well as the Department of Chemistry.

Admission Requirements

Undergraduate education that includes an adequate background in chemistry, mathematics, and the biological and behavioral sciences are urged to apply. Students with undergraduate concentrations in other areas of the natural sciences, computer science, or engineering also are encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to applicants with a background in laboratory research and with strong letters of recommendation. Applications must include departmental form, three letters of recommendation,), and the undergraduate transcript. If English is not your native language you are required to submit a recent TOEFL score. The deadline for domestic and international applicants is December 1.

Course Requirements

A total of 90 credit hours, including dissertation, is required for the Ph.D. An individual program of study is planned for each student in consultation with the student’s advisory committee. The aim is to provide each student with a solid background in neuroscience as well as the training necessary to supplement the student’s particular research area. Program in Neuroscience requires 19 credit hours of coursework. Required courses from the 19 credit hours include the following: N500 (3 credits), N501 (3 credits), N650 (4 semesters at 1 credit per semester), plus other courses chosen by the student's committee and the student. In addition, completion of the major requires completion of a course (at least 1 credit) that includes professional ethics; this course would be selected in consultation with the graduate student's committee (examples of suitable courses include, but are not limited to, PSY P-595, COGS Q-510, BIOL Z-620, and VSCI V-792). N500 and N501 must be completed by the fifth semester of residence. Courses may be selected from those listed by the Program in Neuroscience or cross-listed with other departments, divisions, or special programs. Course work must be completed with an average of B+ (3.3) or above. No grades below B– (2.7) may be counted toward degree requirements.

Advisory Committee

Students must identify a major advisor and have an advisor throughout the course of their graduate studies. Student must form an advisory committee by the end of their first year; later in their course of study, students must form a research (dissertation) committee. The student’s committee (advisory or research) shall consult with the student, at least once per year, to help determine the student’s course of graduate study, develop a research program, approve the student’s course selections, and review the student’s progress in all areas (for example, but not limited to: completion of required courses, course grades, adequacy of teaching, and research progress). Following each yearly meeting a written report of the meeting must be filed with the Director of Graduate Studies. The student’s committee will determine whether the student is making adequate progress in all areas. Should the advisory (or research) committee determine that a student is not making adequate progress in any area, this may be grounds for eliminating a student’s department funding, probation, or dismissal from the program.

Qualifying Examination

To remain in good standing and be admitted to doctoral candidacy, students must pass a written and oral examination before the end of their fifth semester in residence. Students with a double major may request one additional year before they take the qualifying examination. Students failing the qualifying examination twice will be dismissed from the program.

Final Examination

In addition to the oral defense of the dissertation before the research committee, a public research seminar is required.

Ph.D. Minor in Neuroscience

Students in other departments and programs who elect to minor in the Program in Neuroscience must complete the N500-N501 core sequence and at least 6 credit hours of graduate course work selected from the offerings listed by the Program in Neuroscience or cross-listed with other departments. A grade of B (3.0) or higher in each course is required.

Master of Science Degree

Students are not currently being admitted to this program.  The MS in Neuroscience is available to graduate students in the Program in Neuroscience who opt to leave the program prior to the completion of the doctorate degree. The student must be in good standing and have completed the 30 credit hours and a research thesis.

Course Requirements

A total of 30 credit hours including the N500-N501 core sequence, 3 semesters of N650, a course in professional ethics, and 20 credit hours of graduate course work as approved by the student’s advisory committee and the Director of Graduate Studies. A minimum of three credit hours should be research credits, to reflect work on thesis research. Usually at least 20 credit hours of graduate course work is selected from the offerings listed by the Program in Neuroscience or cross-listed with other departments, but this is not required if the advisory committee and Director of Graduate Studies agree that the credits taken are relevant to the student’s major area of study. Beyond the six core courses and minimum of three research credits, additional credits (to count toward the required total of 30 credit hours) can be additional courses or additional research credits. A minimum of nine credit hours of coursework (excluding thesis research credits) must be numbered 500 or above. Any course requirements discussed above can be waived; such waivers must be approved by the department’s Director of Graduate Studies and the University Graduate School. A grade of B (3.0) or higher in each course is required.

Master’s Thesis

Required. The student’s advisory committee will participate in the approval of the thesis. The student is required to hold an oral defense of the thesis with the advisory committee. The outcome of the defense (pass or fail) must be communicated to the Director of Graduate Studies by the student’s advisor. The preferred method is to submit the thesis to the University Graduate School electronically. Instructions and deadlines are available on the University Graduate School website.

In instances where shortcomings are apparent (in coursework or the thesis), the student may be required to complete additional coursework or assignments, as determined by the advisory committee in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. For example, additional work on the research project or an additional course to provide deeper training may be required. Students must be consistently involved in productive research throughout their course of graduate study. Students who are determined, by their faculty advisory committee, not to be making adequate research progress may be subject to academic probation and dismissal.

At the time when a student decides to leave the doctoral program and seek a Master’s degree instead, the timeline for completing the requirements for the Master’s degree will be discussed. In most instances, the student will have one to two semesters to complete the Master’s degree.

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