UCLA Neuroscience Program Ph.D. Admissions Neuroscience Faculty UCLA and Beyond
Ph.D. Program Curriculum

The curriculum is designed to provide students with a foundation on which they can build for specialization in any area of neuroscience. Moreover, all students are expected to be familiar with the different levels of analysis in neuroscience, from the molecular to the behavioral levels. The curriculum has six major components:

  1. Core Courses. In the first year, students take four core courses that provide an introduction to neuroscience at the graduate level: 
    Cell, Developmental and Molecular Neurobiology
    Cellular Neurophysiology
    Systems Neuroscience

  2. Laboratory Rotations. Also during the first year, students perform
    lab rotations to gain exposure to different approaches to neuroscience research. They also attend a series of informal talks, ("Meet the Professors"), to familiarize themselves with the faculty and research opportunities at UCLA.

  3. Literature-based Seminars. Students take six literature-based seminars during the first three years which emphasize critical analysis of current literature in neuroscience.

  4. Advanced Courses. Students also complete at least 8 units of advanced courses relevant to their area of specialization in neuroscience in addition to graduate biostatistics and ethics.

  5. Teaching. Each student must serve as a paid teaching assistant in at least one undergraduate course.

  6. Dissertation Research. The most important component in the Ph.D. Program is a long period of hands-on experience in neuroscience research, culminating in the Ph.D. Dissertation. The mentor-student relationship allows the student to develop the complex set of skills necessary to select interesting research problems, to plan and execute meaningful experiments, and to communicate the results effectively.

During the first year of the doctoral program, students take the sequence of core courses, three literature-based seminars, and perform lab rotations. At the end of this first academic year, the student selects a faculty research mentor and joins a laboratory. The Written Qualifying Examination is completed at the beginning of the second year and students then continue with courses and laboratory work. Most students serve as teaching assistants in the second year. By the third year of study, the student spends nearly full-time in the laboratory and completes the Oral Qualifying Examination which tests their ability to present and defend a research proposal. The student next presents the results of their research in a lecture to the community when the dissertation is well under way (midstream seminar) and defends the completed dissertation in the Final Oral Examination.

To view detailed information and the most current curriculum please visit the Graduate Division website for the official Neuroscience Graduate IDP Program Requirements.