School of Medicine, Building #1
Mail Code 0662
The Graduate Program
The Neurosciences Graduate Program accepts candidates for the PhD degree who have undergraduate majors in such disciplines as biology, chemistry, engineering, microbiology, mathematics, physics, psychology, and zoology. A desire and competence to understand how the nervous system functions is more important than previous background and training.
Doctoral Degree Program
Students in this program receive guidance and instruction from a campuswide group of faculty interested in nervous system mechanisms. Each student, in consultation with an advisory committee, selects courses relevant to his or her research interests and goals. The selection will include formal courses listed in this catalog and informal seminars offered by the department. A regular schedule of rotation through the laboratories of faculty members is a feature of the first year; the student is exposed in this way to the various approaches, techniques, and disciplines represented on the campus.
Specialization in Computational Neuroscience
The Neuroscience Graduate program offers a specialization in Computational Neuroscience. Students in the Computational Neuroscience specialization are trained in the broad range of scientific and technical skills essential to understand the computational resources of neural systems. Students in this specialization will be required to fulfill all of the academic requirements of students in the Neurosciences Graduate Program. In addition to these requirements, students in the Computational Neuroscience specialization must successfully complete a set of three core computational courses, an advanced laboratory, and computational neuroscience journal clubs.
Required courses include:
Computational Neurocience Specialization Courses:
Cog Sci 260
By the time of the minor proposition (see below), students are expected to demonstrate competence in the basics of neuroscience by taking five quarters of mandatory course work—three quarters of Basic Neuroscience (Neurosci 200 A-B-C), and one quarter each of Neuroanatomy Lab (Neurosci 257) and Statistical Methods and Experimental Design (Neurosci 225). In addition, students choose among various core elective courses, such as Molecular and Cellular Neuroendocrinology (Neurosci 222), Neuropsychopharmacology (Neurosci 277), Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (Neurosci 268), Developmental Neuroscience (Neurosci 263) and approved courses from other graduate departments. Students are also permitted to substitute previous courses that are similar to the Neurosciences core courses. Such a substitution would require approval of the chair of the Curriculum Committee or the director of the Graduate Program.
The purpose of this examination is to test the student’s ability to choose a problem in the neurosciences and propose an experimental approach to its solution. The problem should be broad, requiring experimental approaches from more than one discipline. The problem should be outside the area of the student’s anticipated dissertation research. Students will be required to demonstrate a working knowledge of the disciplines involved in the minor proposition.
Oral defense of the minor proposition will be required at the end of the winter quarter of the second year of study.
During the second year, students are expected to propose and initiate work on a dissertation problem under the guidance of a faculty preceptor. The neurosciences group at UC San Diego currently conducts animal research and clinical studies in the fields of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, neurophysiology, comparative neurology, physiology of excitable membranes, synaptic transmission, neuronal integration and coding, nervous system tissue culture, neuroimmunology, brain function, sensory physiology, motor mechanism, and systems analysis as applied to neurological problems.
This examination, a university requirement, focuses on the proposed research that the student will undertake for his or her dissertation. This examination is conducted by the approved doctoral committee.
The required formalities listed in the Instruction for Preparation and Submission of Doctoral Dissertations issued by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research to students should be followed closely. The final examination includes both a public presentation followed by a closed defense of the dissertation with members of the Committee.
All students are required to perform as a teaching assistant for at least one quarter during their graduate career. To this end, opportunities to lecture and assist in laboratory exercises and demonstrations are available through a number of departments, including neurosciences, biology, and cognitive science.
PhD Time Limit Policies
Students must advance to candidacy by the end of four years. Total university support cannot exceed six years. Total registered time at UC San Diego cannot exceed seven years.