Roadmap for Obtaining a Ph.D. in Neuroscience

GradPath requirements are indicated with a GradPath tag.

Summary of NRSC Curriculum Requirements

  • Principals of Cellular & Molecular Neurobiology - NRSC 588
  • Systems Neuroscience – NRSC 560
  • 1 Statistics course
  • 1 Professionalism/Ethics course
  • 3 rotations minimum with Neuroscience GIDP faculty –NRSC 700
  • NRSC Colloquium/Journal Club – NRSC 695f/g
  • Fulfill teaching requirement
  • All other credits up to the total 72 required for the PhD

Years 1 and 2

Goals for Years 1 and 2

  • Set clear goals of what you wish to accomplish and discuss these goals with your mentor.
  • Will the courses I have chosen benefit my literacy at a graduate level?
  • Have I taken the courses which will give me a specialized background needed for my research?
  • Do I know how to learn about new developments and emerging knowledge in my field?
  • Have I learned the laboratory and/or computational skills I will need?
  • What laboratory rotations will provide me with the experience I need to choose a thesis?
  • Can I plan and execute, address scientific questions that would generate a conclusive answer from the results?
  • Do I understand the standards of professional ethics and am I committed to upholding them?

Semester 1 (Fall)

  • NRSC 588 (4 units)
  • NRSC 700 Lab rotation* (3 units)
  • NRSC 695f (2 units)
  • NRSC 595B Science Writing Strategies (2 units)

Semester 2 (Spring)

  • NRSC 560 (4 units)
  • NRSC 700 Lab rotation* (3 units)
  • NRSC 695f (2 units)
  • Statistics or Ethics (3 units)

*Students must complete a total of 3 laboratory rotations from at least 3 different NRSC GIDP faculty by the end of the Spring Semester their first year.  You may very length of rotations (8 to 10 weeks) and take additional rotations.

IDENTIFY PRIMARY ADVISOR (by end of the 1st year)

GradPathResponsible Conduct of Research Statement Form

Semester 3 (Fall)

  • NRSC 695f (2 unit)
  • Statistics or Ethics (3 units)
  • NRSC 900 (2 units)
  • Elective or minor (3 units)


Complete any outstanding coursework and/or remaining requirements for thesis proposal

GradPathPlan of Study in Grad Path Form

Semester 4 (Spring)

  • NRSC 695f (2 unit)
  • NRSC 900 (2 units)
  • Elective or minor (3 units)
  • Elective or minor (3 units)

GradPathCreate Comprehensive Exam Committee Appointment Form


GradPathAnnouncement of Doctoral Comprehensive Exam Form

Year 3

Goals for Year 3

Year 3 should be dedicated entirely to research in the laboratory.

  • Have I defined my specific interests and objectives for my Ph.D.? How am I assessing my progress?
  • Have I developed a focused set of goals that will lead to publication of a paper and development of my thesis?
  • Have I discussed these goals with my mentor/advisory committee?
  • What knowledge do I need to broaden my scope or research?
  • Am I spending enough time inside and outside the lab to accomplish my objectives?
  • Am I thinking creatively, troubleshooting my own experiments, developing independence?
  • Do I efficiently translate results into publication quality data?

Semester 5 (Fall)


GradPathResults of Comprehensive Exam (entered by Chair)

  • NRSC 695g (1 unit)
  • NRSC 920 (5 units)

Semester 6 and beyond

  • NRSC 695g (1 unit)
  • NRSC 920 (5 units)

Meet regularly with Advisory Committee (at least once a year) and submit Annual Progress reports and Assessments.

Year 4

Goals for Year 4

Focused on research, writing papers, communicating your findings.

  • Is there a clear plan for completing my PhD thesis?
  • Am I developing my original research proposal and do I understand the criteria for assessment? (See IDP Setting Goals: Research Projects)
  • Am I thinking ahead about my next career stage? Am I discussing my timetable for completion and career plans with my mentor?
  • Am I staying up with current literature in my field, asking important questions and willing to learn new techniques, etc.?
  • Am I questioning my assumptions, my own data, and identifying important implications of my findings?
  • Am I working with focus and intensity to drive discovery and complete my research objectives?
  • Have I published a paper, or am I preparing manuscripts for publication?

Year 5

Goals for Year 5

Focused on completing experimental work, writing research papers and thesis, scheduling your defense and making plans for a post-graduate position.

  • Do I have a well-organized thesis plan? Is my committee in agreement? Do I have a plan for the next stage of my career?
  • Can I defend my work and articulate how it contributes to the knowledge in my field?
  • Have I reached a high level of proficiency and demonstrated the ability to?

GradPathDoctoral Dissertation Committee Appointment Form

GradpathProspectus/Proposal Confirmation

Complete, write and defend PhD. Thesis

GradpathAnnouncement of Final Oral Defense (2 Weeks Prior to Final Defense)

GradpathResults of Final Oral Defense