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Neuroscience Program Curriculum

Contents of this document:

Core Coursework
MD/PhD Requirements
Advanced Lecture Courses
Neuroscience Seminars
Neuroscience Rotations
Teaching Assistant Requirements
Special Topics Courses
Choosing a Mentor
Admission to Candidacy
Financial Support

Core Coursework

Neuroscience Program graduates should be as strong in biochemical knowledge, cellular and organismal physiology and formal statistics as graduates of any program in biological sciences. With this in mind, a basic Neuroscience Program Core Curriculum has been designed for all entering students, most of which should be completed with a grade of B- or better within two years as a prelude to doctoral candidacy. Students with deficiencies in certain academic areas may be required to take undergraduate courses. Credit hours are indicated in parenthesis. 

Neuroscience (all courses required as listed)

NEUSC 6010 Frontiers in Neuroscience (1); to be taken Fall Semester of the first year
NEUSC 6040 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (4) Fall 2019 Syllabus
NEUSC 6050 Systems Neuroscience (4) Spring 2019 Syllabus
NEUSC 6060 Neuroanatomy for Biomedical Scientists (1.5); 1st half fall semester Fall 2019 Syllabus
NEUSC 6245 Neurophysiology Laboratory (2); one-week course during summer semester
NEUSC 6250 Molecular Biology Laboratory (2); one-week course during summer semester;
NEUSC 6900 Neuroscience Rotations (1 per half-semester); Three half-semesters are required during the first year
NEUSC 7750 Developmental Neurobiology (1.5); 2nd half fall semester Fall 2019 Syllabus

Quantitative Science (1 course required from the following)

PSY 5500 Quantitative Methods I (1-4)
PSY 5510 Quantitative Methods II (1-4)
PSY 6250 Applied Statistics (on-line) (3)
More options


MBIOL 7570 Research Ethics (1)

Grant Writing (both courses are required)

MBIOL 6200 Literature Review and Problem Solving (2)
MBIOL 6300 Guided Grant Preparation (2)

Course Requirements for MD/PhD Students entering the Neuroscience Program

Course requirements must include:

1 Neuroscience core course (other than Neuroanatomy)
1 other semester of didactic course work (depending upon lab selected).
1 research ethics class (1 credit)

In addition, students are required to attend the weekly RIP/Journal clubs in their department.

If the supervisory committee deems additional coursework to be necessary then the student will be asked to do this.

Otherwise all other Neuroscience Program requirements apply to MD/PhD students (except the supervisory committee, which must meet MD/PhD program guidelines by having one member from the MD/PhD Advisory Committee).

Available Advanced Lecture Courses

Neuroscience Program students are required to take 3 graded elective graduate level courses and 3 credit hours of ungraded, departmental journal club courses beyond the core curriculum. The opportunities are extensive as the Neuroscience Program is an interdepartmental program. Thus any graduate courses (6000-7000 series courses) in the participating departments can be used to augment a student's training. In certain cases, graduate or advanced undergraduate courses in non-program departments may be taken with the prior approval of the advisory and Curriculum committees. The following are abridged listings of possible 6000-7000 series courses. There are many others available including 5000 series. Departmental Journal Club courses are also recommended/encouraged. 

Neuroscience Seminars

 First year students attend weekly seminars covering various advances in neuroscience. During the Fall Semester of the first year, Frontiers in Neuroscience (NEUSC 6010) is presented by the faculty of the program, updating ongoing research in the Neuroscience Program. 

Neuroscience Rotations 

Neuroscience Rotations (NEUSC 6900) are the prime mechanisms by which students become exposed to working laboratory science and attempt to match up with prospective mentors. All students complete 3 half-semester rotations in the first year as part of their formal training and to find prospective mentors. Neuroscience Rotations are half-semester "laboratory" courses (1 credit), which translates to about 9 hours of laboratory work per week. Faculty may offer rotations in either or both of two formats: (1) A 1/2S-Rotation is the standard one half-semester format where the student will attend the laboratory for about nine hours per week in whatever format best blends with the academic schedule; (2) An S-Rotation is the condensed summer format where a student will spend five weeks in a laboratory, which converts to roughly half-time attendance every day (four hours). Neuroscience Program students should select prospective rotations from the rotations catalogue and contact the faculty members offering them. Students may also find that presentations in Frontiers in Neuroscience will assist them in finding a mentor.

Student research presentations

Predoctoral students in the Program are required to give three talks/seminars based on their research prior to their dissertation defense seminar.  Students must receive formal written feedback from at least two Neuroscience Program faculty for each of the three presentations.  At least one of these presentations must be at the Snowbird Symposium or the Spring Student Symposium.  The other two talks should be given on campus (e.g. student retreat, department RIPs, department seminar series, special lecture opportunities on campus, research interest groups, etc.) and be attended by at least two Neuroscience Program faculty who provide the student with written feedback.  The student is responsible for enlisting the faculty who will give the feedback and for submitting copies of the evaluations to the Program office for their files.  

Teaching Requirement for PhD Students

All PhD students have to fulfill a minimal requirement for teaching by the end of the 4th year.

Generally, this requirement can be fulfilled by serving as a TA for a didactic undergraduate or graduate course. Students can propose other ways to fulfill the requirement, as long as the following minimum conditions are met:

  1. There must be a didactic teaching component (i.e. lecturing). The student cannot simply serve as an assistant to the course director, conduct office hours, or grade papers.
  2. There must be direct, written feedback from a faculty member, such as the course instructor.

All students, with input from their mentor and Supervisory Committee, must submit a proposal for fulfilling the teaching requirement for approval by the Curriculum Chair 1 month before the semester of their teaching assignment.

If interested, students can gain significantly more teaching experience through the Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence (CTLE).

Special Topics Courses 

In addition to the formal Neuroscience Rotations, students may also elect to carry out advanced readings courses or small scale research projects under any of the Neuroscience Program faculty at any time (NEUSC 7980 - faculty consultation).

Choosing a Mentor

 By the end of the first year of study, each student selects a thesis advisor (by mutual agreement with the Neuroscience Program faculty member) and four other faculty members to form an advisory committee. Together, the student and advisory committee begin to chart the remainder of the academic program and assist in preparing the student for the doctoral candidacy examination. The advisory committee provides regular reports to the Director and Curriculum Committee of the Neuroscience Program regarding student progress. 

Admissions to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree after completing the course and seminar requirements and passing a qualifying examination given by the advisory committee by the end of the second year of training.

Financial Support

All Ph.D. students in the Neuroscience Program are awarded financial support (living stipend and tuition waver) for the duration of their thesis work, provided their progress is satisfactory. First year students are supported by the Neuroscience Program (The living stipend amount is $28,560 for the 2019-2020 academic year). After their first year, students are supported from individual departmental resources, by graduate training grants (in genetics, developmental biology, and cancer research), or by research or teaching assistantships. Stipend levels, regardless of the source of support, are the same in all participating departments.


Last Updated: 2/14/20