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The Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience is designed to be completed in five years. Students begin a combination of research and coursework
as soon as they arrive. The first year project introduces the student to
the conduct and reporting of empirical research. Students are expected
to complete several published projects before entering doctoral
candidacy. One of these projects can later be expanded into a doctoral
dissertation. Two course in statistics and a series of basic neuroscience
core courses in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, and
integrative neuroscience are taken in the first two years of study. Once
these research and course requirements are met, a qualifying exam
provides entrance to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The student then
proposes, conducts and defends a doctoral dissertation. A description
of each of these requirements is given below.
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In the first two years, a student must successfully complete the
neuroscience core sequence of four courses, and two advanced course in
statistics. The core sequence consists of Neuroanatomy (Neuroscience I),
Neurophysiology (Neuroscience II), Neuropharmacology (Neuroscience
III), and Integrative Neurobiology (Neuroscience IV). A student can take other graduate courses offered by the
Behavioral Neuroscience Faculty or other Programs or Departments in the
University related to the student’s interests.
The first year project is an empirical research experiment or series of
experiments that is conducted under the guidance of a student’s advisor.
An oral presentation of the project is given to the area faculty before
the end of the second semester (usually in the Behavioral Neuroscience Seminar Series). A written report of the research project should be
submitted for publication by the end of the student’s second year of
In consultation with the student's Advisory Committee, a student will choose one of the following options for the Qualifying Exam- 1) Four question-based essays, covering core areas within a concentration; 2) NRSA proposal; or, 3) Review paper suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. In each case, there will also be an oral component to the qualifying exam.
Once a student has qualified for doctoral candidacy, the student
proposes a dissertation question of scientific interest and designs
experiments to answer the question. Following completion of the
dissertation experiments, the student writes the dissertation, defends
it in a final oral exam, and receives the Ph.D.