Neuroscience Graduate Program at UCSF
Each first year student completes a minimum of three quarter-long laboratory rotations in at least two different areas of Neuroscience. The aim of rotations is to provide broad laboratory experience and to allow students to explore laboratories in which they might wish to do a thesis. The rotations begin in the fall quarter of the first year and are chosen in consultation with faculty and graduate advisors.
The Neuroscience program offers a diverse curriculum in the form of core neuroscience courses, intensive mini-courses and advanced topics courses. Courses taken during the first year are designed to fill gaps in the general biological, quantitative or physical science background of each student, to provide broadly based training in neuroscience. Advanced courses and intensive mini-courses are designed to enhance scientific literature reading and oral presentation skills as well as provide intensive training in areas of Neuroscience relevant for the student’s thesis research project.
At the end of June in the first year in the program, each student either chooses a Ph.D. thesis laboratory or does a fourth rotation.
After joining a thesis lab during the first year, Neuroscience students will take the prequalifying exam and qualifying exam. The exams are taken sequentially with the prequalifying exam defended in the summer of the first year and the qualifying exam defended in June or earlier during each student’s second year. The general purposes of this sequence of proposal submissions and oral defenses are: (1) to determine whether a student has sufficient knowledge of neuroscience in at least two unrelated areas of the field to identify important problems and to plan original experimental approaches for their solutions; (2) to evaluate the student’s scholarship and knowledge of Neuroscience; and (3) to develop and evaluate the student’s skills at writing and defending orally mock grant proposals.
Students advance to Ph.D. candidacy in the second year after successful completion of the qualifying exam.
Upon successfully passing the qualifying examination, each student immediately forms a Ph.D. thesis committee and files the paperwork to advance to candidacy. The Graduate advisor and Ph.D. thesis director are consulted in forming the thesis committee. Students meet with their thesis committees at least once before the end of their second year and at least once a year thereafter. Students meet with their thesis chairs at least every six months.
The student submits the Ph.D. thesis to the University’s Graduate Division. The Ph.D. degree is conferred on the last day of the quarter in which the student submits the thesis to the Graduate Division office. After the thesis is written and positively evaluated by the thesis committee, the student will present a thesis talk to the Neuroscience community.
Steps to Ph.D.