Students in our PhD program receive comprehensive interdisciplinary training in all areas of neuroscience, with a strong emphasis placed on performing research at the highest level.
- At the start of their training, students choose an area of specialization — either Molecular, Cellular, and Translational (MCT) or Systems, Cognitive, and Computational (SCC) — allowing them to focus their study of brain function.
- During their first year, students take required coursework in cellular and systems neuroscience, neuroanatomy, and quantitative methods. They also perform lab rotations, typically 3 months each, in which they are exposed to the specific research problems and methods of 2 or 3 labs. Students are advised by a Director of Graduate Studies on rotation advisor selection, rotation and course progress, and managing a balance between courses and lab.
- By the start of their second year, students typically choose a thesis lab, and begin working with their faculty mentor to design a thesis project. While starting their thesis research, students continue course work with electives focused on their areas of expertise. Students also form an advisory committee, which is usually composed of 3 additional faculty from across our program.
- At the start of their third year, students have a qualifying exam, where they defend a written proposal in the format of a predoctoral NIH NRSA fellowship.
- In later years, students take elective courses and pursue original thesis research guided by their faculty mentor. Students typically meet with their advisory committee once or twice a year to receive outside feedback and guidance. Student give public talks on their research after the 1st and 3rd years, and participate in a variety of departmental, regional, and international scientific meetings. Many students also write successful fellowship applications to fund their own research, and their thesis research is often published in the most prominent scientific journals.
- In addition to academic courses and research, there is a strong emphasis on providing training and advice on teaching, career and scientific development, grant writing, community outreach, and broad communication skills.
- Graduate training finishes with a written dissertation, public talk, and oral defense, supervised by the thesis committee and an outside reviewer (typically a faculty member from another university).
The following are typical programs for students choosing either area of specialization:
MCT area of specialization:
Year 3 and beyond
SCC area of specialization:
Year 3 and beyond