Neuroscience Program

PhD in Neuroscience

The program focuses on the study of the brain and addresses the challenge of developing an integrative understanding of cognition and higher brain function. In response to this challenge, the rapidly developing field of neuroscience has produced an exponential increase in the amount of data available to investigators as they develop new theories of brain function and new hypotheses to test. The main objective of the program is to prepare students to participate at the cutting edge of this exciting field in academia, industry, and government. The program provides students with a rich interdisciplinary intellectual environment that fosters the development of the skills they will need to successfully pursue research careers.

Current faculty research focuses on the broad areas of behavior, anatomy, physiology, neuropharmacology, molecular biology, computational modeling, and informatics. External research collaborations exist with federal agencies, private and not-for-profit corporations, and other universities. The scope of research ranges from the subcellular and molecular level (in the context of such phenomena as drug addiction and the biological basis of schizophrenia) to the systems and behavioral level.

Current research projects include plasticity mechanisms supporting development, network formation and information processing, cellular and subcellular models of associative learning, biochemical dynamics in disorders of the basal ganglia, computational methods for simulation of complex biological systems, role of metals in memory and Alzheimer's disease, and dynamical behavior of neurons and networks of neurons, and identifying and characterizing protein interactions for the dopamine and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Doctoral Coursework

Core Science
NEUR 702 Research Methods 3
Select one statistics course from the following: 3-4
ECE 528
Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advanced Statistics
STAT 535
Analysis of Experimental Data
STAT 544
Applied Probability
STAT 554
Applied Statistics I
Core Neuroscience
NEUR 601 Developmental Neuroscience 3
NEUR 602 Cellular Neuroscience 3
NEUR 603 Mammalian Neuroanatomy 3
NEUR 701 Neurophysiology Laboratory 3
Rotations and Readings 9
Laboratory Rotation and Readings (This course will be taken three times)
Select 20-21 credits of electives 20-21
Total Credits 47-49


An additional requirement for graduation calls for students to have at least one publication (in print or in press) in a refereed journal.

Doctoral Committee and Proposal

When coursework is nearing completion, the student should form a doctoral committee and start preparing their dissertation proposal. Students in consultation with their advisor identify which faculty are appropriate to be a part of their committee. The dissertation committee administers the qualifying exam and evaluates the dissertation proposal as well as the dissertation itself. At least one of the committee members must be outside of the dissertation advisor's department.

Candidacy Examination and Advancement to Candidacy

The doctoral candidacy examination includes written and oral components. After passing the candidacy exam and receiving committee approval for the dissertation proposal, the student is advanced to doctoral candidacy.

Dissertation Research

Note: No more than 24 combined credits from NEUR 998 Dissertation Proposal and NEUR 999 Doctoral Dissertation may be applied toward satisfying doctoral degree requirements, with no more than 12 credits of NEUR 998 Dissertation Proposal.

Select 24 credits from the following: 24
Dissertation Proposal
Doctoral Dissertation
Total Credits 24
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