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Graduate: Neuroscience

  • Program Overview

    Description of the Department of Neuroscience

    The Graduate Program in Neuroscience, in the College of Arts and Sciences, offers doctoral training in the rapidly expanding field of neuroscience. Through coursework and independent research, students are trained to approach research problems in neuroscience with a broad perspective. Expertise in the areas of molecular and biochemical control of development, properties of receptors and ion channels in relation to cellular physiology, the cellular basis of integrative functions, and the structural basis for communication among neurons are available to all students in the program. Graduate students will receive in-depth research training in molecular, biochemical, physiological, behavioral, or anatomical sciences. In addition the Program offers unique opportunities to draw from one or more of these disciplines through multidisciplinary, cosponsored research projects. A program of highly interactive faculty and students provides an exciting focus for research training.

    The MS in Biomedical Science (Neuroscience track) program prepares students to conduct, analyze and communicate Neuroscience research. Students will be exposed to advanced neuroscience research techniques, approaches and theory culminating with the MS degree. Core concepts and skills are taught through a series of required core courses, with the remaining coursework consisting of advanced electives and special topics courses. Expertise in the areas of molecular and biochemical control of development, properties of receptors and ion channels in relation to cellular physiology, the cellular basis of integrative functions, and the structural basis for communication among neurons are available to all students in the program. Students will receive in-depth research training in molecular, biochemical, physiological, behavioral, computational or anatomical sciences. A program of highly interactive faculty and students provides an exciting focus for research training.

  • Admissions

    Admission details for the Department of Neuroscience

    Students are expected to fulfill basic requirements of the Graduate School: a bachelor’s degree from a recognized university, a grade point average corresponding to B or higher, and the recommendations of three former instructors. In addition, all non-native speakers of English must score a minimum of 600 (paper), 250 (computer) or 100 (iBT) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The Program in Neuroscience has the following additional requirements: one year of calculus, physics, and chemistry, demonstrated proficiency in biological sciences, and laboratory research experience. Deficiencies in these requirements do not preclude admission, and special consideration will be made to promising applicants.

    Application Deadline: March 15 for MS applications, January 15 for PhD applications

    Applicants do not need to send their official transcripts until they are offered admission into the program.  

    In addition to the minimum requirements of the Graduate School, the following are suggested requirements:

    A. BS or BA degree in a life science related field, with a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.00.

    Pre-requisites: Successful MS and PhD candidates have often completed college level courses in physics, mathematics, organic and inorganic chemistry and advanced biology. It is recommended that students will have undergraduate neuroscience coursework. However, students are also accepted into the program without all necessary pre-requisites. These students may be asked to take the appropriate preparation course(s) prior to undertaking specific graduate level courses.


    B. Three letters of recommendation.

    C. Personal statement.

  • Degree Requirements

    Requirements for Admission

    The Graduate Program in Neuroscience does not accept a student whose goal is a M.A. degree. In exceptional instances, a student already in the Program may be awarded a M.A. degree upon completion of an approved course of study, including 30 graduate credit hours, a comprehensive examination, a research thesis, and the minimum requirements of the Graduate School.

    Requirements for the PhD in Neuroscience

    A. Course Requirements
    1. Core courses in neuroscience (BNB 561, BNB 562, BNB 563, BNB 564). A four-semester series taught by members of the Program; the student is introduced to a broad variety of topics. These will be taken in the Fall and Spring semesters of the first and second years.

    2. Neuroanatomy (BNB 560), Developmental Neuroscience (BNB 565), and Neurobiology of Disease (BNB 566). These are required short courses elaborating on fundamental topics in Neuroscience.

    3. Laboratory Rotations in Neuroscience (BNB 555). A two-semester course in the Fall and Spring semesters of the first year. Students conduct research rotations in laboratories of three program members and present oral reports on their research.

    4. Writing Neuroscience (BNB 551). This course is taught in the Fall semester of the first year. It provides training in the basics of scientific communication, with a strong emphasis on writing and revision. Practical exercises are designed to give experience and feedback in commonly needed aspects of scientific writing.

    5. Advanced Neurobiology and Behavior Seminar (BNB 697). Seminar presentations delivered by faculty, students, associates, and visiting speakers.

    6. Electives. At least two additional graduate-level courses in various biological, physical, or mathematical sciences must be selected by the student in consultation with the student’s advisor. Students may take additional elective courses if they desire.

    B. Thesis Proposal
    At the end of the second year of study, each student must successfully propose and defend an outline of their thesis research.. The proposal consists of a written document and an oral presentation.

    C. Advancement to Candidacy
    The faculty will recommend a student to the Graduate School for advancement to candidacy upon satisfactory completion of all course requirements and passing their thesis proposal.

    D. Student Seminars
    All students who have advanced to candidacy are required to give a departmental seminar on their dissertation work annually.

    E. Ph.D. Dissertation
    A dissertation that constitutes an original and significant contribution to the field of neuroscience is required for the Ph.D. The work must be of a quality acceptable for publication in a recognized scientific journal. At the end of the first year, students initiate a dissertation research program in a Program faculty’s laboratory. After advancement to candidacy, the student and advisor will assemble an advisory committee to guide the dissertation research. Upon completion of the dissertation research, the student will present a seminar based on the dissertation. Following this the student will be given an oral examination on the dissertation research and related areas by the dissertation committee.

    F. Teaching Requirements
    To gain experience in teaching, the Program requires that all students serve as teaching assistants for two semesters during the first two years of study.  Students who enter the program from the medical school’s MSTP program are required to serve as TA’s for one semester.  Usually, TA assignments are to courses taught by Program faculty. Assignments are made to minimize impact on research productivity in the second year of study.

    G. Residence Requirement
    The University requires at least two consecutive semesters of full-time study. The demands of the course of study necessitate a longer period of residence.

    H. Academic Standing
    All students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average at all times. Due to the importance of BNB 561, BNB 562, BNB 563, and BNB 564 as the basis for advanced study in Neuroscience, students who have a grade of less than a B in these courses must remediate or repeat them satisfactorily prior to defending the thesis proposal and advancing to candidacy. Any student who fails to receive a grade of B or better in more than one required course will be reviewed for possible termination from the Program. Research (BNB 599 and BNB 699) is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Any student who receives a grade of U in a research course will be reviewed for possible termination from the Program.


    Requirements for the MA in Biological Sciences

    Completion of this track will require 30 credits from the approved PhD curriculum in Neuroscience and a thesis.


    Requirements for the MS in Biomedical Science

    A total of at least 30 graduate credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater are required for the MS degree. Of this, at least 8 credits must be earned in core courses in cellular, molecular and systems neuroscience. Students must also complete 4 credits in seminar courses designed to enhance reading, writing and presentation skills.

    Research skills are at the center of the program and all students are required to complete a minimum of 14 credits of research related courses comprised of Introduction to Neuroscience Research, Neuroscience research practicum and Neuroscience Thesis work. A research thesis is required at the culmination of the program.

    Core Curriculum: 

    • NEU 501: Introduction to Neuroscience Research (Summer II, 3 credits)
    • NEU 502: Reading, writing and speaking Neurobiology (Fall, 2 credits)
    • NEU 521: Introduction to cellular neuroscience  (Fall, 3 credits)
    • NEU 522: Introduction to molecular neuroscience (Fall, 3 credits)
    • NEU 531: Sensory and motor systems (Spring, 2 credit)
    • NEU 532: Neural Plasticity, Learning and Memory (Spring, 2 credit)
    • NEU 533: Neural systems, emotion and cognition (Spring, 2 credit)
    • BNB 560 Introduction to Mammalian Neuroanatomy (Spring, 1 credit)
    • BNB 697: Neuroscience Seminar Series (Fall, Spring, 1 credit)
    • NEU 548: MS Research Practicum in Neuroscience 3-5 credits (Fall, Spring, Summer)
    • NEU 549: MS Thesis Research in Neuroscience 

    Students must complete at least 8 credits from NEU521, NEU522. NEU531, NEU532. NEU533 and BNB560.

  • Facilities

    Facilities of the Department of the Neuroscience

    Program faculty are located in the Life Sciences Building, the Psychology Building, Centers for Molecular Medicine, and Health Sciences Center on the SUNY Stony Brook campus, and at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Molecular facilities provide for analysis of protein and DNA biochemistry, including microsequencing, peptide mapping, synthesis of oligonucleotides and peptides, cellular transfection, and production of transgenic animals. Wide-ranging facilities for cellular and integrative electrophysiology exist for studies on dissociated neurons, brain slice preparations, neurons in situ, and genetically engineered cells in culture. Imaging facilities permit anatomical reconstruction, fluorescence measurements, and the use of ion-sensitive indicators on both conventional, confocal, and multi-photon microscopes. An image analysis core is linked to a scanning and transmission electron microscopy facility.  Separate behavioral testing core facilities for mice and rats are also available.

  • Faculty
  • Contact


    Alfredo Fontanini, Life Sciences Building 573, (631) 632-8616

    PhD Graduate Program Director
    Mary Kritzer, Life Sciences Building 510, (631) 632-8634

    MS Graduate Program Director
    Meghan Heim, Life Sciences Building 512, (631) 632-8616

    Graduate Program Administrator
    Odalis Hernández, Life Sciences Building 573, 631-632-8078, FAX (631) 632-6661

    Degree Awarded
    Ph.D. in Neuroscience, MA in Biological Sciences and MS in Biomedical Science (Neuroscience track)