Programs of Study

Neuroscience is one of the truly multidisciplinary research fields. All students are expected to be able to understand the fundamental principles and contributions of each of the major disciplines that form the core of neurosciences. New graduate students receive training in biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, and physiology before proceeding with the more focused courses in neuroscience. The neuroscience courses are subdivided into core courses that all students have to complete and elective courses that represent the two major fields of specialization offered: Cell and Molecular Neuroscience and Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience. Since the Neuroscience Program has faculty at KU-Lawrence and the KU Medical Center, the core curriculums are approached slightly different. However, two other common components are training in the responsible conduct of research and supervised training in teaching neurosciences.

For the Ph.D. degree in neurosciences, the student must complete the core curriculum as well as the requirements established by the Graduate School. The latter are residence, research skills training, comprehensive oral examination, preparation of a dissertation, and final oral examination and defense of the dissertation.

The graduate program in Neurosciences offers several areas of specialization:

  • Molecular Neurobiology
  • Cellular Neurobiology
  • Neurochemistry
  • Neuropharmacology or Neurotoxicology
  • Developmental Neurobiology
  • Behavioral Neurobiology/Physiological Psychology
  • Behavioral Pharmacology
  • Sensory Physiology and Neurobiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Requirements for the Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

The neuroscience courses are subdivided into core courses that all students have to complete and elective courses that represent two major fields: Cell and Molecular Neuroscience and Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience.

Additional course requirements include one core course from the Biobehavioral Neuroscience, one from the Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, and one from the General Neurobiology themes outlined in the table below. In addition, all students are expected to take a course in Bioethics or Issues of Scientific Integrity and receive training in effective oral communication and teaching (Teaching Principles course). All required and most elective courses are completed in the first two years of the Program. At the end of the first two years, students take the Comprehensive Oral Examination which upon completion the student becomes a  doctoral candidate and completes their research and writing of the Doctoral Dissertation. All students are required to complete a Research Skill. Areas that are commonly used are radiation biology and radiation safety, cell culture methodology, techniques of electron and confocal microscopy, molecular biology, computer science, statistics, and training in electronics and instrumentation. 

A unifying component of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience is the bi-monthly Neuroscience Seminar, which is video conferenced between the KU-Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses. Internal and outside speakers are invited to participate and Neuroscience students present annual seminars during their graduate career.

Examples of a likely curriculum for a student enrolling in either KU Lawrence or KU Medical Center is shown below

Year 1: Fall Semester

  • Advanced Biochemistry
  • Course in Biobehavioral Neuroscience 
  • Cell Biology
  • Lab rotations 
  • Neuroscience Seminar

Year 1: Spring Semester

  • Advanced Neuroscience
  • Mammalian Physiology
  • Lab Rotations
  • Neuroscience Teaching Principles
  • Research Skill
  • Neuroscience Seminar

Year 2: Fall Semester

  • Scientific Integrity
  • Course in Cell & Molecular Neuroscience
  • First Elective for Molecular & Cellular Neurosci. or Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience
  • Second Elective for Molecular & Cellular Neurosci. or Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience Seminar

Year 2: Fall Semester

  • Completion of written and oral comprehensive exam

Year 3: Fall/Spring Semester

  • Dissertation Research

Year 4: Fall/Spring Semester

  • Dissertation Research

Year 1: Fall Semester

  • IGPBS Module1: Protein Structure, Thermodynamics, Kinetics
  • IGPBS Module 2: Cell Metabolism
  • IGPBS Module 3: Molecular Biology
  • Lab rotations
  • Neuroscience seminar

Year 1: Spring Semester

  • Advanced Neuroscience
  • IGPBS Module 4: Cell and Developmental Biology
  • IGPBS Module 5: Molecular and Physiological Basis of Disease
  • Lab rotations/Faculty research seminar series
  • Neuroscience Seminar

Year 2: Fall Semester

  • Course in Bio-Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Course in Cell and Molecular Neuroscience
  • First Elective for Molecular & Cellular Neurosci. or Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience
  • Second Elective for Molecular & Cellular Neurosci. or Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience Seminar

Year 2: Fall Semester

  • Completion of written and oral comprehensive exam
  • Research Skill
  • Bioethics
  • Neuroscience Teaching Principles

Year 3: Fall/Spring Semester

  • Dissertation Research

Year 4: Fall/Spring Semester

  • Dissertation Research

Contact Information

The University of Kansas
Neuroscience Graduate Program
c/o Dr. Rick Dobrowsky
School of Pharmacy, Ste 2001-D
2010 Becker Drive
Lawrence, KS 66047
Telephone: (785) 864-3531 or (785) 864-3893
E-mail: dobrowsky@ku.edu or psteffan@ku.edu

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