An important cornerstone of the program is to provide students with a flexible and supportive environment. In addition to coursework, an essential aspect of the curriculum is hands-on experience in research, in which interaction with a mentor provides the student with the skills necessary to become a neuroscientist.
Curriculum requirements for students entering Fall 2012
The curriculum for the Neuroscience Graduate Program was revised and approved by the NGP faculty in 2009. All students entering the program as of Fall 2012 are required to take the following courses:
- 1. NEUR 524 (Advanced Overview of Neuroscience) and NEUR 525 (Advanced overview of Neuroscience II) are core courses taken by all students in the Fall and Spring semesters of their first year to provide an integrative multi-level view of neuroscience. As a pre-requisite, students should have mastered the material currently taught in BISC 421 (Neurobiology). (Students should review a syllabus for BISC 421 to evaluate their background knowledge prior to Orientation, then receive advice at Orientation on whether to take BISC 421 or read recommended material in order to fill in their background in selected areas.)
- 2. Students are required to complement their thesis-directed studies with a “breadth with depth” requirement by taking two key courses, one each from 2 of the 4 tracks listed below. (In general, at least one of these courses will serve to advance thesis-related study as well.) The currently approved key courses are as follows:
- NEUR 531 Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
- BISC 426 Principles of Neural Development
- NEUR 533 Cognitive Neuroscience
- NEUR 534 (BME 575) Computational Neuroengineering
- NEUR 535 (CS 564) Brain Theory and Artificial Intelligence
Systems & Behavior Track:
- NEUR 532 Systems and Behavioral Neurobiology
- NEUR 541 Neurobiology of Disease
A written petition co-signed by a student and the student's advisor may be submitted to the Advisement Committee to request substitution of one alternative course for one of the two key courses. The petition must be presented before the end of the student's second year of study. The substitution will only be considered if the argument for an alternative second course clearly meets the value of "breadth with depth" embedded in the new revised curriculum. The request may be strengthened by demonstrating either (i) adequate prior background in a second track other than the one in which the student proposes to take key courses or (ii) that the replacement course provides a different kind of breadth appropriate to the student's training and development. All students must complete a minimum of two key courses, one from each of two different tracks. See the 2012 Graduate Orientation Handbook for additional details.
- 3. All students are required to take a 1-credit course NEUR 538 (Neuroscience Ethics and Professionalization)in their first semester or INTD 500 (Responsible Conduct of Research) in the summer after their first year.
- 4. All students must enroll in a total of 4 units of NEUR 539 (Neurolunch; 4 semesters at 1 unit each), typically during the first 2 years of graduate study. The format is an hour-long journal club in which students present results from the recent literature to hone their skills of analysis and making oral presentations.
Typical schedule for students in their first semester:
- NEUR 524 Advanced Neuroscience
- NEUR 790 Research
Another barrel of laughs
3 Research rotations
Students carry out 3 research rotations during their first year before selecting an adviser. Thus, they have the opportunity to sample different approaches to neuroscience before choosing the subject of their dissertation work.