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Integrative Neuroscience Requirements

All students take Statistics (501/502) plus three courses outside the area. Although Neuroanatomy is a required area course, it can satisfy one outside area course. First year students must also enroll in First Year Lectures in the Fall semester and the seminar on Human Diversity in the Spring semester.

To obtain the optional Advanced Certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience students should choose 3 of the following for their Breadth Courses:

PSY 513 Theories of Attention

PSY 516 Judgment and Decision Making

PSY 518 Memory         

PSY 520 Psycholinguistics


Students must take Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience I and II (PSY 561-562), in addition to Functional Neuroanatomy (PSY 565). In addition to these courses, students must take two additional courses in neuroscience. Inside-area courses may be chosen from Neuropsychopharmacology, Neuropsychology, Affective Neuroscience, Hormones and Behavior and Cognitive Neuroscience (PSY 560), or other special topics or related course offerings approved by the Integrative Neuroscience faculty. Each semester, through all years in the program, students are required to enroll in either PSY 581 or 582 (Cognitive & Behavioral NeuroScience Colloquium I or II, depending on the semester).

This is a proposal (1-2 pages) for the second year paper. This proposal should outline a research plan for the project, including a brief background, statement of purpose and hypothesis, methods, and a list of key references. The student should also identify a published article that will serve as a model for their paper.

This is the write-up of research conducted during the first two years; it should consist of a publishable manuscript describing an empirical study, including an introduction, descriptions of methods and results, in addition to a discussion and conclusion. One copy must be submitted to the area head by July 1 following completion of four semesters. Note that some labs may also require a First Year Paper, due at the end of the first year (students should check with their advisor). The Second Year Paper may be the final write-up of a project described in the First Year Paper.

This requirement consists of a written review of a research topic approved by the specialties committee. The paper should include title page, full review, bibliography, and figures. The committee must consist of two Area members and one outside-of-area member. After giving committee members at least two weeks to read the review, the student will defend the paper in a specially arranged meeting. Students should be aware that they are not Ph.D. candidates until they have passed this very important milestone. It is advised that the student take the SPECIALTIES EXAM as quickly after satisfying the second year paper as possible, so that they have the assurance that they will be allowed to complete the Ph.D. program. The specialties exam should be taken during the 3rd year, no later than July 1st, after the student has completed five semesters. We recommend that students attach to the specialties paper a memo to the committee reminding them of the date and place of the defense. The paper should be sent to the committee members at least two weeks in advance. Students are expected to present the information discussed in their paper during the specialties exam, while being prepared to answer committee questions. The specialties exam meeting typically lasts two hours.

Upon approval of Area faculty, students advance to candidacy following completion of required course work, the specialties exam, the two semester Substantial Direct Instruction (SDI) requirement, and satisfactory progress in research. Ideally, a student will have advanced to candidacy by the second semester of the 3rd year.

A written dissertation proposal must be approved, following oral presentation and discussion by the Dissertation Committee. This committee must include at least two members of the Area faculty, one faculty member from a different area of the department, and one faculty member from outside the department. The dissertation proposal meeting should be taken shortly after the Specialties Exam. During the proposal meeting students will present background literature, the hypothesis and the proposed methods. Students should include preliminary data, if available. The meeting usually lasts two hours. Students should bring the appropriate forms obtained from the Psychology graduate office to the meeting. Because dissertation projects may be undertaken before the Specialties Exam and Proposal, students are encouraged to develop a 10 page unofficial proposal and meet with the intended committee for feedback in advance of the formal proposal date. This allows the student to obtain important feedback from faculty members outside the lab before commencing the study.

In accordance with departmental requirements, students will present background literature, the hypothesis, methods, results, a discussion of the results and appropriate conclusions. The meeting usually lasts 2-3 hours. Students should bring the appropriate forms obtained from the Psychology Graduate Office to the meeting. 


One semester as a Teaching Assistant, which may partially satisfy the Departmental Substantial Direct Instruction requirement. The department requires two semesters of SDI. Upon completion of the first SDI, the student will then perform an SDI as a course director of a lab section (e.g., 310 lab). It is also recommended that students take the Seminar on Teaching Methods (PSY 621) in their third year.

Students are expected to present their research at least once per year in the Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience Colloquium. Students in the first year will present a 15- minute talk with 5 minutes of questions in April or May. Students in the second year will present a 30 minute talk. Students in the 3rd and 4th years will present 45-50 minute talks. Starting the second year, students should be prepared to talk in either the spring or fall semester.

Students must achieve favorable evaluation by the Area faculty at the end of each semester. Students are expected to meet the deadlines for each requirement (e.g, Second Year Paper, Specialties paper). Students who are late on any requirement will receive an official warning, unless prior approval has been obtained. A student who misses a deadline by six months or more may be recommended for probation or removal from the program. Students must formally petition to delay the deadline if they can provide evidence of outstanding research progress or outstanding contributions to teaching. The petition should include a letter outlining the request for the delay, and the intended date for fulfilling the requirement. Evidence of outstanding research or teaching progress should be documented in a letter from the advisor and the student’s C.V.

The following is an example of course sequence and project requirements that would maintain good academic standing and position a student to complete their Ph.D. in a timely manner. In addition to the following, students are expected to be actively engaged in research, the most important activity during one's graduate program. Also, this sample schedule includes only the minimum required minimum of courses.  Students should plan to add appropriate additional courses in consultation with their advisors.

Fall:  Statistics (501), Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience I (561), First-year lectures, Independent Research (student must enroll even if for 0 credits), and Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Colloquium I (581).

Spring:  Statistics (502), Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience II (562), Seminar on Human Diversity, Independent Research (student must enroll even if for 0 credits), Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Colloquium II (582). First Year Paper (if applicable) due by Aug 1.

Fall:  Functional Neuroanatomy (PSY 565), one additional course, Independent Research (student must enroll even if for 0 credits), and Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Colloquium I (PSY 581).

Spring:  Hormones and Behavior, one additional course, Independent Research (student must enroll even if for 0 credits), Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Colloquium II (PSY 582). Complete Second Year Paper by July 1.

Fall:  Independent Research. Relevant course offerings. Develop specialties paper and defend by February 1st. Advance to candidacy.

Spring:  Independent Research. Relevant course offerings. Develop and defend dissertation proposal. Begin considering career path and plans after graduation.

Fall:  Dissertation Research. Relevant course offerings. 

Spring:  Independent Research. Take relevant course offerings. Complete dissertation. Oral defense.