Curriculum for the PhD Program in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience includes:
In addition to the required common core courses that all graduate students are required to take (see link below), Graduate Program in Neuroscience students take two additional required courses, SGSS8080 Neuroscience I and NURO8082 Neuroscience II. Program students also take NURO9010 Neuroscience Seminar, NURO8310 Neuroscience Journal Club (Advanced Topics in Neuroscience). In the second year, the student also takes at least one 2-hour elective course that complements the research interests and career goals of the student. The electives are chosen by the student in consultation with the student's major advisor and thesis committee. A list of most commonly chosen electives in provided in the link below. Program students would also take NURO9210 Investigation of a Problem (variable credit hrs.). In order to register for the upper level research course, NURO9300, a student must be admitted to candidacy which includes having submitted an advisory committee form, coursework proposal, research proposal, and passed either exam 1 and 2 (for students who entered before Fall 2009), or passed the written and oral comprehensive exam (for students who entered Fall 2009 or later). The student then becomes eligible to take NURO9300 Research in Neuroscience in which the student works closely with his/her faculty dissertation mentor on an in-depth study of a research question of interest to both student and mentor. This course culminates in the preparation of a PhD dissertation. A “Sample Curriculum” and full course descriptions for all courses are provided below.
Students will undertake three rotations in research labs during the first semester
of the first year, where they will be involved in research projects. These are designed
to teach techniques and serve to help students choose a research lab. During the second
semester of their first year students will do two research rotations which will serve
to help them select a mentor for their dissertation research, chosen after their second
semester. Students are expected to receive research training during the rotations
and in the lab of their mentor.
Students will prepare a written research proposal for their dissertation in consultation with their mentor and a thesis advisory committee that will approve the research proposal. The student is expected to do original research for their dissertation and publish their work in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
Consolidated Comprehensive Exam
In accordance with the College of Graduate Studies guidelines, Neuroscience program
students that enrolled Fall 2009 or later will be required to pass a single Consolidated
Comprehensive Exam. It is required that the Comprehensive Exam be administered no
later than the end of the second year (sixth semester) of full-time (year-round) study.
Failure to do so indicates unsatisfactory progress toward the degree and will result
in a semester grade of “U” in NURO 9210 Investigation of a Problem course. An extension
to the end of the seventh semester may be granted by the Dean, but only in rare and
extenuating circumstances. If an extension is granted, an “I” grade will be entered
for the sixth semester NURO 9210 grade. The “I” grade will convert to “U” if the examination
is not attempted in the seventh semester.
The examination format for students in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience will consist
of a combination of written and oral components as follows: One one-half day written essay exam and One two-hour oral exam.
The purpose of the Comprehensive Examination is to demonstrate the student's understanding
and comprehension of general and discipline-specific material and independent, critical
thinking ability. The examination should cover the scope of the student's dissertation
topic, but it must not be limited to the research proposal; it also must include aspects
related to the broader discipline and general area of expertise as defined by the
graduate program. The second (oral) portion of the examination must occur within 5
weeks of completion of the first (written) portion of the exam.
The Graduate Program Director is responsible for oversight of the program's Comprehensive
Examinations. Each student's Advisory Committee will serve as his/her specific Examination
Committee. However, a faculty member other than the student's Major Advisor must serve
as Chair. An Examination Committee meeting must be called to review the format, timing,
and grading format of the Comprehensive Exam. A representative appointed by the College
of Graduate Studies Dean will attend the meeting to ensure that the Comprehensive
Exam format and its administration adhere to the College of Graduate Studies policies
and serve as a liaison to the Dean's office. The graduate student will be invited
to the committee meeting and be informed, both orally and subsequently in writing
of the format, timing and grading format of the Comprehensive Exam. Information regarding
the format, timing and grading of the Comprehensive Exam should be forwarded by the
student's major advisor to the Graduate Program Director for approval, and then to
the Dean, College of Graduate Studies, for final approval.
The written exam will be constructed by the Examination Committee and will contain
a combination of questions covering the major topic areas of the student's research
as well as general knowledge in the field. The exam must be completed in the allotted
4 hour time period. Each member of the Examination Committee will submit a question
for the exam, and the student must answer 4 of the 5 submitted questions. The grading
model will follow the (+), 0, (-) scale: + for good to excellent responses, 0 for
adequate/satisfactory responses, and � for inadequate/unsatisfactory answers, with
a cumulative +1 required for passing.
The two hour oral exam must be administered within 5 weeks after passing the written
exam component. The student must pass the written exam in order to be eligible to
take the oral exam. The oral exam will be administered by the Examination Committee
and its purpose is to demonstrate the student's understanding and comprehension of
his/her research area and the broader discipline and general area of expertise, as
well as the student's independent, critical thinking ability. The oral exam portion
may also be used to clarify or follow up on any of the written exam questions or answers.
The oral exam consists of a session of questioning by the Examination Committee that
should not exceed the two hour limit of the exam. The grading model for the oral exam
will follow the (+), 0, (-) scale: + for good to excellent responses, 0 for adequate/satisfactory
responses, and � for inadequate/unsatisfactory answers, with a cumulative +1 required
for passing. To obtain a passing grade on the oral exam, the student is expected to
display a basic working knowledge of his/her 1st and 2nd year course work subject matter, key concepts relevant to his/her field/discipline,
and demonstrate knowledge of the scientific literature, especially the literature
relevant to the student's research area. The students should display basic independent
critical thinking ability as evidenced by the ability to “use the knowledge” he/she
has obtained to answer basic questions related to his field/discipline and aspects
of his/her research proposal, to include background, rationale, and experimental design.
The student is expected to demonstrate a solid, basic grasp and understanding of the
course work, key concepts, and his/her research area and project.
The student must pass both the written and oral exam components to be considered as having passed the Qualifying Exam. If a student fails the Comprehensive Exam, he/she will be afforded one opportunity to retake the exam after additional study, typically within three months. A second failure of the Comprehensive Exam will be grounds for dismissal from the College of Graduate Studies.