Ph.D. Concentrations in Behavioral Neuroscience and Neuroscience


Required Courses

  • PSYC 5104. Analysis of Experiments
  • PSYC 5105. Quantitative Methods
  • 4 semesters of BNS seminars
  • 2 graduate-level BNS courses from two different areas of expertise, taught by different BNS PSYC professors
  • At least 6 credits of graduate research

For the Ph.D., students must obtain at least 24 total credits in addition to any credits going towards the master’s degree.

Academic Milestones

General Requirements

Typically, students take 4-5 total years to complete the program, even if the student enters the program with a master’s degree from another institution. In meeting the requirements listed below, students must also be sure they are meeting the general requirements listed for the Graduate School and the Department of Psychological Sciences, including the departmental breadth requirement (3 courses either outside the area of concentration, or from the list of interdisciplinary courses).

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

Students must pass a Ph.D. qualifying exam to become a Ph.D. candidate. For this exam, five committee members chosen by the major advisor (in consultation with the student) will each pose a question that will serve as the basis of a 10-15 page theoretical or technical literature review paper.

The student will have 7 days to complete each question and must receive permission from the specific committee member in order to take a longer time with his or her question.
Before answering the question, a student may request a meeting with a committee member for clarification of the question.

Faculty members on the committee will score their question with a grade of either high pass (2 points), low pass (1 point) or fail (0 points). If a high pass is not achieved, the committee member will inform the student, and the student will have an opportunity to revise their answer in a specified amount of time. However, answers to only two questions may be revised in this manner.

Students must pass all five questions, and have a total score of at least 8, in order to qualify for the Ph.D.

Ph.D. Prospectus

Students must pass a Ph.D. prospectus defense, which includes both a written prospectus document and a meeting of the prospectus committee with the student.

The committee must include at least 3 core committee members, at least one of whom is external to the BNS program, and 2 readers.

It is strongly recommended that the student should have completed some, but not all, of the Ph.D. dissertation research at the time of the prospectus meeting, so that the committee has an opportunity to provide adequate feedback and guidance on the remaining work. Furthermore, it is advisable that the student has an informal meeting with the prospectus committee prior to the formal presentation, in order to keep committee members informed of the progress being made.

Each student must pass the prospectus defense in order to be allowed to proceed with their dissertation.

Ph.D. Dissertation Document and Defense

A written doctoral dissertation, with oral defense and a committee of at least five faculty members (at least one of whom is external to the BNS program), is required. In general, the content of a master’s document is expected not to form a major portion of the Ph.D. dissertation document. Furthermore, the student is required to have at least one paper published or in press at the time of the oral defense. In each case, the committee will decide what constitutes a passing level of performance for both the oral defense and the written document.