New York University includes two major doctoral programs in neuroscience: the Doctoral Program in Neural Science (within the Faculty of Arts and Science) and the Doctoral Program in Neuroscience & Physiology (within the Sackler Institute at the School of Medicine). Over the last few years, the programs have harmonized their academic and research requirements and this year will process their applications jointly. Details of the shared neuroscience curriculum and the combined pool of neuroscience faculty mentors are given below. Please note, applications to either program will be considered by a joint admissions committee, and therefore applicants will be eligible for admission to either program. Our goal is to streamline the application process and give you the opportunity to find the best match for your research interests at NYU.
At NYU, neuroscience graduate education provides integrated training that encompasses molecular, cellular, developmental, systems, cognitive, behavioral, and computational approaches. Our programs build on the breadth and strength of ongoing research across many interrelated departments and multiple campuses, especially within the Center for Neural Science and the NYU Neuroscience Institute. Students receive a comprehensive, interdisciplinary neuroscience education and have the opportunity to sample diverse research experiences before committing to their research topic and laboratory. Training strongly emphasizes research at the highest level throughout graduate school. Students also benefit directly from an interactive, collegial community, and they become active participants in shaping the rich intellectual environment that complements their formal training. Download a copy of our most recent brochure for more information on neuroscience research and graduate education at NYU.
The Doctoral Program in Neural Science and the Doctoral Program in Neuroscience & Physiology will jointly review applications that are submitted either via the Sackler Institute or the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As such, all applicants will be eligible for admission to either program. Our goal in this process is to help you match with the program that best fits your interests.
Applicants should indicate in their essays the research areas and faculty that most interest them.
MD/PhD applications are handled by the Medical Scientist Training Program.
Core Doctoral Program Components
Research Training. During the first year, students participate in two or three laboratory rotations with graduate program training faculty. Students entering either the Doctoral Program in Neural Science or the Doctoral Program in Neuroscience & Physiology select from a common pool of core and associate neuroscience faculty mentors. At the end of the first year, students will generally select a primary advisor and laboratory from this pool for their thesis work.
Coursework. The shared core neuroscience curriculum, taken during the first year, includes three fundamental courses with both lecture and laboratory components:
- Cellular Neuroscience and Laboratory in Neural Science I. Through lectures, student-run discussions of primary research, and hands-on laboratories, this course covers basic principles of cellular neuroscience, from fundamental membrane physiology to complex neuronal response properties. The course interweaves physiological, cellular, and molecular mechanisms to provide a thorough understanding of the material.
- Neuroanatomy. This hands-on course covers the detailed anatomy of the human peripheral and central nervous systems within a functional context, including discussion of clinical cases that allow students to integrate and apply their knowledge.
- Sensory and Motor Systems and Laboratory in Neural Science II. This course introduces neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and behavioral and psychophysical functions of the nervous system. Lectures, discussion sections, and labs integrate cellular neurobiological properties with network and computational organization of the major sensory and motor systems of the brain to establish a comprehensive understanding of information processing and coding mechanisms.
In addition, graduate advising and program milestones also coincide. Students are advised by the graduate program directors and additional appointed advisors during their first year. As they enter their second year and select a lab, their primary research advisor takes over this role, and together they establish a thesis committee, which typically follows the student through to the dissertation defense. By the beginning of the third year, students prepare a written qualifying exam or thesis proposal, defend it to their committee, and subsequently submit it as an NIH NRSA proposal. For the thesis defense, additional faculty, including an outside expert in a student's research area, join this core advisory group.
Program Specific Components
As we described above, the Doctoral Program in Neural Science and the Doctoral Program in Neuroscience & Physiology share many important features. Each program also maintains additional specific requirements described in detail on their websites. For instance, additional first year course requirements for each program emphasize different aspects of modern neuroscience. Importantly, the programs now function much more like tracks or concentrations than independent programs. Further, students can and often do take courses and participate in academic and research activities offered by either program.
After reviewing both programs' websites, prospective students should apply to the program whose major academic and research areas best align with their interests with the knowledge that this choice does not limit their selection of courses, research areas, or research laboratories.
A variety of additional programs offer doctoral degrees in related disciplines. Brief descriptions of the School of Medicine and Washington Square-based programs can be found on our website. For a visual overview of the programs and their administrative structure, you can explore this diagram.
Neuroscience graduate students at NYU benefit from a number of NIH-funded institutional training grants. Although graduate students are guaranteed full support throughout their study, independent of their home program, we strongly encourage students to begin establishing a track record of independent funding as early as possible during their research careers. The following training grants are designed to support students across the two major neuroscience graduate programs at NYU.