PhD

Neuroscience

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 26.7k / Academic year(s) Foreign:$ 26.7k / Academic year(s) Deadline: Dec 1, 2021
StudyQA ranking:354 Duration:5 years

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Neuroscience, the study of the nervous system, is a highly integrated discipline and one of the most rapidly advancing areas of modern science. The nervous system controls and coordinates all body functions from simple reflexes to highly complex, motivated behaviors. Neuroscience draws upon knowledge developed in many domains, including anatomy, biochemistry, biology, genetics, pharmacology, and psychology, and represents inquiries along a continuum from structural biology of signaling molecules to the understanding of brain function, scientists in this challenging field must cross boundaries dividing traditional specialties and employ multidisciplinary approaches.

Progress in identifying, visualizing and manipulating key determinants of neural development, signaling and plasticity is driven by and inextricably linked to advances in our understanding of nervous system structure and function. The distinguished training faculty of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute Neuroscience Graduate Program at Vanderbilt University reflects the multidisciplinary nature of modern neurobiological inquiry, and is drawn from diverse fields such as Psychology, Biochemistry, Molecular Physiology, and Pharmacology.

Vanderbilt's Neuroscience Graduate Program prepares each student to make significant contributions in neuroscience and fosters development from trainee to independent research scientist and educator. This is achieved by combining sound training in the fundamentals of neural science with more specialized training that focuses on the integration of this knowledge base into a study of nervous system function and disease. Students have the option of a curriculum and research program that emphasizes either Cellular & Molecular or Cognitive & Systems neuroscience, preparing each trainee for a future in which neuroscientists must be able to make the transition from molecules to cells to neural systems and behavior. The training, which combines rigorous course work with opportunities for state-of-the-art research, is designed to prepare graduates for a future in which neuroscientists must be able to make the transition from molecules and cells to neural systems and behavior.

Students can enter the Neuroscience Graduate through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP), or be directly admitted into the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP), or through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). As stipulated by the Vanderbilt University Graduate School, 72 total hours of graduate credit is required for the Neuroscience Ph.D. degree with a minimum of 24 hours of didactic (classroom) coursework and the balance of up to 48 credits of research hours. In most cases didactic course work will be completed during the first two years. At the end of the second year, a Ph.D. Qualifying Examination must be satisfactorily completed for the student to then be admitted into doctoral candidacy for a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience. If needed, remaining course electives may be taken following the Qualifying Examination After a student completes the qualifying process, the student's effort is largely directed towards completing her/his dissertation project.  The average time to degree in our program is just over 5 years.

All neuroscience graduate students are required to take a minimum of 24 hours of coursework by the time they are ready for qualifying exams in the summer and fall of their second to third years. Besides the 24 non-research credits required, students have the option to take additional electives and research hours, up to a total of 12 credits (including required courses) per semester.

Required courses (1st and 2nd years):

IGP Entry

  • Bioregulation I & II
  • Fundamentals of Neuroscience I and II (NURO 8340 and 8345)
  • Neuroscience Discussions I & II (NURO 8325, 2 semesters)
  • Neuroscience Research Forum, (NURO 8320, multiple semesters)

Electives

NGP Direct Entry

  • Fundamentals of Neuroscience I and II (NURO 8340 and 8345)
  • Neuroscience Discussions I & II (NURO 8325, 2 semesters)
  • Neuroscience Research Forum, (NURO 8320, multiple semesters)

Electives

  • MSTP Entry – see “Compass” MSTP handbook.

All Students

Second year

  • SUMMER: Qualifying Examination; Research Hours

Third year

  • * FALL: Research Forum; Research Hours.
  • * SPRING: Research Forum; Research Hours.
  • * SUMMER: Research Hours.

Fourth and Fifth years

Successful completion of Teaching Apprenticeship, Research Forum and Neuroscience Graduate Seminars; thesis Research and Defense of Thesis.

Requirements

Vanderbilt University highly encourages electronic applications to its graduate programs (see links below) – there is no fee for online applications.  Paper applications are still possible but require a $40 application fee. The Neuroscience program has two mechanisms for admission. Those students interested in Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience should apply through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (IGP), or directly to the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP). Those interested in Cognitive & Systems Neuroscience should apply directly to the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP). The application deadline for NGP applications is December 1st, while for IGP applications it is January 15.  For both mechanisms, there are a few general requirements.

Graduate Record Examination Scores 

GRE scores are required as part of the application. Official scores should be sent directly from ETS. Copies are not allowed. Scores should be sent to institution code 1871. A department code is not required, but is helpful. For IGP applications, scores should be sent to department code 0202 or for Systems & Cognitive applications, scores should be sent to department code 0213.

Official Transcripts 

A copy of unofficial student transcript should be uploaded to the application by or before the application deadline.

Letters of Recommendation 

The University requires three to five letters of recommendation from persons qualified to evaluate your academic and professional qualifications. On your application, you will be asked to provide the e-mail addresses of your recommenders. Vanderbilt will contact your recommenders by e-mail and provide them with a link to a web site, a password, and instructions on how to submit the recommendation online. Online recommendations are instantly attached to your application. If you are unable to provide e-mail addresses for your recommenders, it is your responsibility to contact them and provide them with the recommendation form.

Writing Sample 

A writing sample in the form of a statement of purpose is required for both application paths (IGP and NGP). Additionally, for applications via the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a sample of previous scientific writing is required.  It should be uploaded on the Application Status Page, which you will see AFTER you submit your application, as an additional material in the Uploads section.

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