The Behavioral Neuroscience graduate program aims to train the next generation of neuroscientists. Outlined on this page you’ll find information to help current students navigate the current graduate training program requirements.  A full set of current program requirements can be accessed from the PDF documents in the right sidebar under Document Links > Post 2018 Requirements

If you entered the program prior to Fall 2018, please see the Pre 2018 program requirements.

  • The direction of a student’s training will primarily be the responsibility of the primary advisor/mentor. 
  • First year committee: 
    • Upon admittance to the program, students should consult with their primary advisor to determine the composition of your first-year committee. 
    • This committee is charged with assisting in the development of the student and to monitor their progress.
    • This committee will aid in the execution of the preliminary examination (see below).
    • This committee is required to meet with the student once each semester during the first year. 
  • Comprehensive examination and dissertation defense committees: 
    • Appointed to assist the student with the preparation of the plan of study and to guide the student’s dissertation research. 
    • These committees must be composed of at least 5 faculty who have current graduate faculty appointment as follows:
      • 3 members must have primary appointments in the BN program
      • 1 member must be from another graduate program in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
      • 1 member must be a faculty with their primary affiliation outside the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
    • This committee is required to meet with the student once a year until the dissertation defense to evaluate thesis preparation and progress.
  • Annual Evaluation:
    • The student must arrange an annual committee meeting to discuss progress in the program including completed coursework, research progress and future directions. In addition to the annual committee meeting, student must submit a Summary of Accomplishments form to the BN Program at the end of each academic year. BN faculty will convene to determine if the student is making adequate progress and a letter summarizing the results of this evaluation will be distributed to the student and primary advisor.

Coursework in the Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program is comprised of a set of required Core coursework and an individualized set of elective courses.

  • Core courses (19+ credits)
    • Introduction to Neuroscience I and II
    • Fundamentals in Neuroscience (for students entering after Fall 2018)
    • Advances in Neuroscience
    • Statistics
    • Scientific Writing (for students entering after Fall 2018)
  • Specialized Elective courses (11+ credits)
  • Total credit hours required for the program: 60 hours
    • Core – 19 credit hours
    • Elective – 11+ hours
    • Dissertation hours – at least 30 hours
  • Typical Calendar for Graduate Training

Preliminary Examination

  • Must be completed by June 1st of the first academic year.
  • Students will enroll in an independent study in the Fall and Spring semesters of the first year. 
  • The independent study will be directed by the primary advisor and 1st year committee. 
  • Students must evaluate and critique the scientific literature in breadth areas determined by the primary advisor and 1st year committee. It is expected that three breadth areas will be evaluated in each of the two semesters. 
  • At the conclusion of each semester, an evaluation form including the topic(s) that were evaluated must be signed by the committee stating satisfactory completion and returned to the Program Director to be placed in the student’s record.

Comprehensive Examination

  • Must be completed by July 1st of the second academic year. 
  • Admission to candidacy for the PhD degree will be determined by successful completion of a comprehensive examination in the field of concentration and related areas. 
  • The examination may take the form of a grant proposal, which may serve as a thesis defense proposal, or a review paper to evaluate a particular hypothesis. 
  • To advance to candidacy the examination committee must judge the student’s written document as satisfactory, and the student must pass an oral defense of the paper/proposal and the student’s broader knowledge of the field. The oral examination will be closed to the public, but open to faculty members of the Behavioral Neuroscience program. 
  • Before attempting the examination, the student must 1) complete at least three semesters of residency, and successfully completed the preliminary examination, and 2) made formal application for Admission to Candidacy on forms supplied by the Graduate School at least two weeks before the comprehensive examination is attempted.

Doctoral Dissertation Defense

  • Students must complete a final examination in the form of a traditional thesis defense that is open to the public.
  • The examination should have the following three components:
    • The student will give a 45-minute formal presentation of the thesis.
    • A period with questions from anyone in the audience.
    • A closed questioning period with the student’s formal committee.