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In this international study program, students holding a Bachelors degree can achieve a Masters degree (M.Sc.) within 18 months. After a three-year doctoral program, the title Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Dr. rer. nat. respectively can be earned. Alternatively, after successful completion of both their medical studies and the Ph.D. study program, medical students may apply for the degree of a Medical Doctor Doctor of Philosophy (MD-Ph.D.).
Due to the lack of a semester structure, the integration of different subjects into a consistently structured curriculum, and the possibility to directly change to the doctoral program without writing a Masters thesis, the duration of study is shortened. All courses are held in English.
The study program is divided into two segments. The first year comprises 36 weeks of lectures, tutorials, seminars, methods courses, and individually supervised research projects. Laboratory rotations and individual supervision as well as the involvement of lecturers from the Max Planck Institutes and the German Primate Center in the teaching assure a combination of theory, practical projects, and intensive research work. The first study year ends with one written and two oral examinations which qualify for the Masters thesis. The Masters thesis can be waived for students who have passed these examinations with good or excellent results so that they can change to the three-year doctoral program directly.
In the postgraduate segment of the program, the student is accompanied by a thesis committee, consisting of the supervisor of the thesis and two additional faculty members of the study program. Also the participation in scientific conferences and courses at an early stage as well as the publishing in international journals are part of the prerequisites for graduation. The graduate program encourages research stays in and co operations with external guest laboratories.
A very important aim of the study program includes social integration. The coordination office facilitates the students start in Göttingen and offers a central contact point throughout the entire course of studies from Application to Graduation.
The faculties of Biology and Psychology, Medicine, and Physics, the German Primate Center, the European Neuroscience Institute, as well as the Max Planck Institutes for Biophysical Chemistry, for Experimental Medicine, and for Dynamics and Self-Organization participate in the interdisciplinary study program Neurosciences. At the same time, the study program is an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).
The Master's/PhD Neuroscience Program starts with an initial segment of one year in which all students participate. This first segment of intensive theoretical and practical studies starts in October and ends in August with written and oral examinations. The semester structure is not followed during the first year. Instead, the courses are structured in a modular fashion covering a period of 36 weeks with short breaks at Christmas and Easter. Thereafter, two separate segments are offered which last 3 years for the doctoral program and 6 months for the Master's program.
The first segment of the Master's/PhD Neuroscience Program is mandatory for all students. It consists of practical training in the participating research laboratories combined with comprehensive lectures, tutorials, and seminars to provide students with a sound theoretical background. To successfully complete this segment of the program, a minimum of 90 credits must be accumulated.
Lectures / Tutorials (20 credits):
Current topics in the neurosciences are taught by internationally renowned scientists in a comprehensive lecture series. A catalogue of study questions and recommended reading is issued, serving as a guideline for discussion in tutorials which accompany each lecture.
Methods Courses (20 credits):
During the first 9 weeks (Oct - Dec), students participate in a series of methods courses. These courses provide an introduction to theory and principles underlying the fundamental methods of the neurosciences. Methods courses are conducted in small groups in the departments within the program. Thus students become acquainted with a variety of methods and laboratory facilities during the initial phase of the program.
Research Projects (Lab Rotations; 45 credits):
Starting in January, every student conducts three research projects (lab rotations) in the participating departments, chosen from different fields. Each project is individually supervised. It involves seven weeks of experimental work followed by one week of data analysis and a written lab report in the format of a scientific research publication. Results of the first two projects are presented in a seminar.
Seminar (5 credits):
Starting in March, all students meet weekly for a two-hour seminar, in which participants present and discuss the results of their research projects.
Special Courses and Presentations (optional)
* Participating research groups present and discuss their scientific interests in a special lecture series, offered between October and December.
* A one-day workshop on oral presentation skills and writing of a scientific paper is offered in December.
* A one-day seminar on good scientific practice is offered in December.
Upon successful completion of the first segment, students may conclude the program with a six-month Master's thesis project based on scientific research. The thesis project involves experimental work under the supervision of a faculty member of the Neurocience Program. The degree "Master of Science" is conferred if and when the candidate has
* received the required credits for the first segment of the program.
* passed the examinations at the end of the first segment.
* successfully completed the Master's thesis.
In October 2006, the Neuroscience Master's program was awarded the label "Top 10 International Master's Degree Courses made in Germany". The award was granted by "Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft" together with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in a national contest, in which 121 Master's programs of 77 universities participated.
Criteria for the award were the innovative concept, a high degree of internationalization, scientific excellence of teaching, measures of quality assurance, services and counseling, and the alumni record. Together with the Göttingen Molecular Biology Program, the Neuroscience program was the only Master's program in the natural sciences and medicine which received this award.
Financial Aid / Scholarships
First Year (MSc studies)
The program supports every student with up to 800 Euros/month throughout the first year if the request for financial aid is well justified. Whether a student receives the full amount through a stipend from the program or whether financial aid is granted, in part, through a student loan, depends on the number of students applying for a scholarship and on the financial situation of the applicant.
Every student is required to declare all stipends, fellowships, grants etc. she/he receives from other sources to the coordination office. Students who obtain a full scholarship (600 Euros or more) from other sources (e.g. government, home university, DAAD, companies, etc.) will not receive additional funding from the Neuroscience Program.
In addition to basic support and scholarships, students may apply for a loan of up to 250 Euros/month. The loan, together with a moderate interest rate, is paid back by the student within 12 months upon entering the PhD phase of the Neuroscience Program.
The Master's Program has been accredited by the Zentrale Evaluations- und Akkreditierungsagentur Hannover (ZEvA) in 2003 (re-accredited in 2008).