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Neuroscience Program Curriculum

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 must 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 6040 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (4) 
NEUSC 6050 Principles of Systems Neuroscience (4)
NEUSC 6245 Neurophysiology Laboratory (1); one-week course during summer semester
NEUSC 6250 Molecular Biology Laboratory (1); 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
NEUSC 7920 Quantitative Methods in Neuroscience (1); available to 2nd year students and beyond

Quantitative Science (1 course required from the following):

MBIOL 6490 Introduction to Biostatistics and Probability for Biosciences (2) (preferred)
MDCRC 6050 Biostats: Basic Science (1-2): please note: this course requires a differential tuition fee not covered by Tuition Benefit.
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 Critical Thinking (2)
MBIOL 6300 Proposal Preparation (2)

Course requirements must include:

1 Neuroscience core course 
3 credit hours or 1 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).

Neuroscience Program students are required to take 4.5 credit hours of graded elective which are advanced didactic graduate level courses and 3 credit hours of ungraded, departmental journal club or seminar 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. 

First year students are required to attend monthly seminars covering various advances in neuroscience. During the Fall Semester of the first year, Faculty Poster sessions will be presented to students for updates to ongoing research in the Neuroscience Program. 

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). Neuroscience Program students should select prospective rotations from among training faculty on the website and contact faculty to discuss the possibility of a rotation but only after speaking to their first-year advisor.

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 a supervisory committee. Together, the student and supervisory committee begin to chart the remainder of the academic program and assist in preparing the student for the doctoral candidacy examination. The supervisory committee provides regular reports to the Director and Curriculum Committee of the Neuroscience Program regarding student progress. 

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.  

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).

A Teaching Assistant (TA) requirement will be required for all students entering fall 2021 or later. TAing at least one half-semester course should be completed by the end of the fourth year. The student must negotiate all TA-ships with their faculty mentor, and the mentor must agree in writing for each course the student TAs. NOTE: Students may complete the lecturing requirement (following the guidelines in P&P 2.5) in the same course that they are completing the TA requirement.

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).

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 qualifying exam committee by the end of the second year of training.

All Ph.D. students in the Neuroscience Program are awarded financial support (living stipend, health insurance and tuition waiver) 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 $37,000 for the 2024-2025 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: 6/12/24