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University of Pittsburgh    
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Feb 08, 2023
2019-2020 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Neuroscience, PhD

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Overview of Degree Program

Neuroscience is the study of the structure and function of the nervous system. The field has emerged over the past two decades as one of the fastest-growing disciplines within the biomedical sciences, attracting people from many different disciplines in the natural sciences. By now, the study of mind and brain is arguably the most exciting scientific enterprise of our time.

Understanding the nervous system provides key insights into human nature as well as treatments for a host of devastating neurologic and psychiatric disorders. Our graduate program introduces students to the fundamental issues and experimental approaches in neuroscience and trains them in the theory and practice of laboratory research.

The CNUP Graduate Training Program has been designed to accomplish several objectives:

  • To develop competence in conducting laboratory research including planning, executing, reporting, and defending an original piece of research relevant to the study of neuroscience.
  • To develop general competence in neuroscience and specific expertise in one or more areas of neuroscience such as behavioral/systems/cognitive, cell and molecular, development/plasticity/repair, and neurobiology of disease.
  • To develop a general professional competence in oral and written expression, necessary for a career in science and/or teaching.
  • To develop fundamental skills in scientific reasoning required to redefine research questions and devise innovative multidisciplinary strategies as a means for adapting to the continually evolving landscape of neuroscience and neuroscience research.

In formulating the graduate training program, the faculty has been guided by several principles. First, the program should aid each student in the development of an individualized training program based on the student’s background and interests.

Second, research experience should form the core of each student’s training and as such should not be postponed by a lengthy period of time devoted exclusively to coursework.

Third, students should be able to complete the program in approximately five years.

Fourth, students should be evaluated in terms of those competencies that are important to a research scientist: designing, conducting and evaluating research, both their own and that of others.

Thus, the progress that a student makes in the program is considered primarily in terms of the student’s performance as an investigator.

Degree Requirements

  • A sequence of three core courses that are typically completed in the first year (Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology I &II and Systems Neurobiology)
  • 2-3 elective courses (there are many from which to choose).
  • A quantitative analysis/statistics course and an ethics course.
  • Proseminar in Fall Term of Year 1 (informal weekly presentations by faculty of ongoing research).
  • A Grant Writing course.
  • Research seminar (regular attendance is required throughout graduate training).
  • Journal Club (regular attendance at a broad-based student-run journal club is required until students have advanced to candidacy).

Other Requirements

  • PhD Prelim Evaluation
  • Year 2 Research Evaluation
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Proposal/Overview
  • Dissertation and Final Examination

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