For information about predoctoral training opportunities in neuroscience, contact the Neuroscience Program or visit its website.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates will:

  • achieve a broad and deep knowledge base in neuroscience spanning the subdisciplines from cell/molecular to systems/cognitive neuroscience;
  • achieve a high proficiency in research theory, design, and practice, including the ability to apply appropriate quantitative methods and statistical approaches, design and carry out the research with rigor and reproducibility, and incorporate responsible conduct in all phases of the research;
  • develop strong oral and written communication skills so that they can be conversant with neuroscientists in any area of the field and can bring a broad interdisciplinary perspective to their own research;
  • develop teaching effectiveness in formal and informal settings and establish credentials in teaching excellence; and
  • provide impactful service to the program, institution, and scientific community, and understand the value of providing engaging outreach to society to prepare them for effective entry into the workforce and society.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in neuroscience requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must maintain a cumulative g.p.a. of 3.00. The program's curriculum is designed around three tracks: molecular/cellular, developmental/systems, and cognitive/behavioral. Following broad-based instruction in a core curriculum, students specialize in one of the tracks.

Within a framework of core, track-specific, and elective courses, students pursue a program of study individually designed according to their undergraduate training and graduate research goals. After enrolling in the Neuroscience Program, entering students consult with the advisory committee regarding their level of preparation for the program's required courses.

The Student Advisory Committee meets with all first- and second-year graduate students once each semester, helping students explore their research interests and select faculty mentors for the required laboratory rotations. Each student is expected to complete three rotations in faculty laboratories before selecting a thesis advisor. Rotations ordinarily last 12 weeks but may last from 8 to 16 weeks. Under special circumstances, two rotations may be in the same laboratory, an arrangement that permits a student to learn a variety of techniques and approaches before settling down to work on the dissertation project. Students usually choose a dissertation lab at the end of their first year.

Background Requirements

Successful students will have demonstrated preparedness for graduate training in neuroscience by completing a bachelor's degree and substantive prior research experience in one or more of the following areas: biochemistry, general physiology, cell biology, and statistics. Didactic coursework in quantitative methods, statistics, and/or computer programming also is beneficial.

Neuroscience Core

The following courses form the core of the neuroscience graduate curriculum.

NSCI:5653Fundamental Neurobiology I3
NSCI:7235Neurobiology of Disease3
ACB:6252Functional Neuroanatomyarr.
BMED:7270Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research I0
BMED:7271Scholarly Integrity/Responsible Conduct of Research II0
PSY:6370Principles of Neuropsychology3
One statistics course3-4
In addition, students register for the following two courses each semester:
NSCI:6265Neuroscience Seminar0-1
NSCI:7305Neuroscience Researcharr.


Elective requirements may be met by completing 8 s.h. from a list of courses offered by the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Biology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Psychological and Brain Sciences, and other departments as appropriate. With permission of the Student Advisory Committee, students may satisfy the elective requirement wholly or in part by registration in the following courses.

NSCI:5212Foundations in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience4
NSCI:5365Seminar: Neuropsychology and Neurosciencearr.
NSCI:7301Directed Study in Neurosciencearr.
BIOL:3343Animal Physiology3
BIOL:3383Introduction to Systems Biology3
BMED:5207Principles of Molecular and Cellular Biology3
CSD:5234Acquired Cognitive-Communication Disordersarr.
GENE:6200Special Topics in Genetics1
HHP:6300Motor Control Seminar1
MATH:5750Mathematical Biology I4
MICR:5218Microscopy for Biomedical Researcharr.
MMED:6220Mechanisms of Cellular Organization3
MMED:6226Cell Cycle Control1
MMED:6227Cell Fate Decisions1
PATH:5260Translational Histopathology3
PCOL:5135Principles of Pharmacology1
PCOL:6207Ion Channel Pharmacology1
PCOL:6225Growth Factor Receptor Signaling1
PSY:3320Abnormal Psychology3
PSY:5070Programming for Psychologists3
PSY:5080Foundations in Cognitive Neuroscience4
PSY:5610Proseminar in Cognition and Perception3
PSY:6440Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience3
PSY:7150Current Topics in Psychology3
PSY:7210Seminar: Advanced Topics in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience3
RHET:7500Science Communication in the Digital Age2-3
STAT:6300Probability and Stochastic Processes I3


Students may work toward the Doctor of Medicine degree and a Ph.D. in neuroscience in a combined degree program offered by the Graduate College and the Carver College of Medicine. Applicants apply to the Medical Scientist Training Program (Carver College of Medicine) in the Catalog.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

All students receive a financial stipend of $31,500 plus tuition for the 2022-23 academic year. Financial support comes from training grants, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, scholarships, individual research grants, or other departmental or college funds. All students are required to teach as part of their development as future scientists and faculty members.

The Neuroscience Program is committed to supporting its graduate students for their entire training period. Students normally are supported in the first year by the program. After that, support is expected to come from a student's primary research mentor. Occasionally, advanced students are supported through teaching assistantships.

See Financial Support on the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Neuroscience website and Cost and Funding on the Graduate Admissions website for more information.

National Institutes of Health Training Grant

The Neuroscience Program is supported by a training grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The grant provides stipend and tuition support for a select group of first- and second-year graduate students.