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Neuroscience, Ph.D.

Minimum Totals for Graduation: 90 hours

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Neuroscience Program at Central Michigan University is designed to give each student a comprehensive understanding of the core principles in neuroscience and the requisite training that will prepare students for positions in academics, industry, or government that utilize highly trained research skills in specific areas of neuroscience. The foundation of the Program is provided during the first two years, which encompasses all the requirements for the Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Neuroscience. Throughout the program, all students are expected to be actively involved in research with a Program faculty member, who serves as a mentor. Upon receiving the M.S. degree in Neuroscience (or its equivalent, for students who enter the Ph .D. Program after their second year), students will work closely with their mentor to establish a line of research that will lead to a publishable-quality major paper and dissertation. As such, the focus of the Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience is to build upon the student’s broad-based and comprehensive understanding of the basic principles of neuroscience and develop a strong background for applied research in some specific area of neuroscience. Current areas of specific research training include studying the causes of and potential treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, the CNS involvement in behavioral learning in the context of abused substances, understanding the mechanisms underlying rehabilitation from movement disorders, and potential treatments for CNS insults, including spinal cord injury, cancer, and radiation-induced cognitive deficits. Students are encouraged to contact Program faculty members in their area of research interest prior to submitting application materials.

Admission Requirements, Retention & Termination Standards

Admission Requirement Snapshot

GPA: 3.0

Entrance Exam: GRE

Application Deadline: December 15

See Admission Requirement Details Below

The application deadline for receipt of all materials will be March 1. When applying for the Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience, applicants must send three letters of reference, official transcripts, and official GRE scores directly to the Program Director. Applicants are expected to complete a Bachelor of Science degree, have at least 15 hours of courses in neuroscience, chemistry, and/or biology (including biologically-based psychology courses), have at least 3 hours of statistics, and have a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) to gain admittance to the program. Preference will be given to students with prior research experience, especially in the area of neuroscience. Students who are deficient in certain subject areas, such as statistics or chemistry, will be expected to make up these deficiencies in addition to the normally prescribed graduate coursework for the degree. A maximum of 9 credit hours earned during non-degree status may be applied toward the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Neuroscience is based upon the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 90 semester hours of graduate work, including the successful completion of the Principles of Neuroscience courses and successful completion of a thesis (with oral defense). Students who are unable to pass the comprehensive examination for the Principles of Neuroscience courses after three attempts will be dismissed from the program. Students who complete the required coursework for the first two years and successfully defend their thesis will attain the Master of Science in Neuroscience degree. Thus, each Ph. D. student must complete the equivalent of all the requirements for the M.S. degree in Neuroscience. Upon completion of the requirements for the M.S. degree in Neuroscience, students will be required to complete NSC 800 (a major paper with oral defense) for their qualifying exam. Upon satisfactory completion of their qualifying exam, the student is an official Ph.D. candidate in the Program. Students who do not successfully defend their major paper by the third attempt will be dismissed from the Program. Upon completion of the remaining course requirements and following the successful oral defense of the dissertation, the student will receive the Ph.D. in Neuroscience degree. All other retention and termination standards for the program follow University policy as specified in the Graduate Bulletin.

Program Requirements

Admission to doctoral candidacy is based upon satisfactory grades (i.e., maintaining a minimum 3.0 grade point average), completion of thesis requirements, and completion of both semesters of the Principles of Neuroscience (NSC 501 and NSC 502) or passing the comprehensive examination for these courses, and successfully completing NSC 800. The doctoral degree is awarded upon the successful completion and defense of the doctoral dissertation.

Required Courses I (48-66 hours)

NSC 501Principles of Neuroscience I


NSC 502Principles of Neuroscience II


NSC 690Research Seminar Neuroscience


NSC 789Graduate Seminar in Neuroscience


NSC 798Thesis: Design


NSC 799Thesis: Implementation


NSC 800Neuroscience Research for Doctoral Candidacy


NSC 898Doctoral Dissertation: Design


NSC 899Doctoral Dissertation: Implementation


Note: A minimum of 4 hours of NSC 690, 6 hours of NSC 789, 6 hours from a combination of NSC 798 and NSC 799, 6 hours of NSC 800, and 18 credit hours from the combination of NSC 898 and NSC 899 is required. In addition to course work, a student must complete an oral examination over the thesis, major paper (NSC 800), and the dissertation.

Required Courses II (3 hours)

Select one of the following:

BIO 500Biological Statistics


PSY 511Statistics in Psychology


Required Courses III (3 hours)

Select one of the following:

BIO 600Biological Research Design and Analysis


PSY 611Research Design


Electives (18-36 hours)

To be chosen in consultation with an advisor.

Total: 90 semester hours