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How do our brains work? How do millions of individual neurons work together to give rise to behavior at the level of a whole organism? Training researchers to answer these fundamental, unanswered questions is the goal of the new Ph.D. program in Princeton's new Neuroscience Institute. Students in this program will learn to use the latest techniques and approaches in neuroscience. Most importantly, students will be trained in how to think, and how to develop new techniques and approaches: creativity and originality will be essential to cracking the puzzle of the brain.
Students in the Neuroscience Ph.D. will take lecture and laboratory courses; learn to read, understand, and present current scientific literature; develop and carry out substantial original research; and present their research at meetings and conferences.
Coursework in the Princeton Neuroscience Ph.D. program is based on the idea that hands-on experience is an essential part of gaining real understanding. During their first year, all students participate in a unique year-long Core Course that surveys current neuroscience. The subjects covered in lectures will be accompanied by direct experience in the lab. Thus, all students learn through first-hand experience what it is like to run their own fMRI experiments; to design and run their own computer simulations of neural networks; to image live neural activity; and to patch-clamp single cells, to name a few examples. This course offers students a unique opportunity to learn the practical knowledge that is essential for successfully developing new experiments and techniques. Previous experimental experience is not required.
Incoming students are encouraged to rotate through up to three different labs to choose the lab that best matches their interests. In this process, students may sometimes discover an area of research completely new and fascinating to them. Following their rotations, and by mutual agreement with their prospective faculty adviser, students choose a lab in which they will carry out their Ph.D. research.
During the first year of their Ph.D., all students take the Neuroscience Core Course. The goal of this course is to provide a common foundation so that all students have a strong knowledge base and a common language across the breadth of neuroscience, a highly diverse and multidisciplinary field. To the extent possible, the course aims to teach an overview of all topics through a mix of hands-on laboratory experience, lecture, and computational modeling.
Graduate students must select one additional elective course approved by the department.
All neuroscience graduate students are required to rotate, during the first year, in up to three laboratories, participating in research projects during each rotation.
Students are required to take and pass their general exam, which will include both a breadth component and a thesis proposal depth component in the beginning of their third year.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that these requirements have been met.
Students are expected to teach two semesters, usually in their second year.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
The Joint Graduate Degree Program in Neuroscience is designed for students that want to do a Ph.D. primarily based on another discipline, but with a neuroscience component. Students graduate with a Ph.D. degree in "X and neuroscience," where X is their home department – for example, "psychology and neuroscience," or "molecular biology and neuroscience," or "philosophy and neuroscience." The program is designed for maximum flexibility.
Candidates should apply to one of the cooperating home departments, which include chemistry, ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biology, philosophy, physics, psychology; departments in the School of Engineering; and the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics. The candidate should fulfill the admission requirements of the chosen department.
Interested students should register as members of the Joint Graduate Degree Program in Neuroscience after their general exam. This is done by obtaining approval from (a) their adviser; (b) the director of graduate studies (DGS) of their home department; (c) the DGS of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute; and then sending these approvals to the Student Services Manager for the Princeton Neuroscience Institute.
Joint degree students must take one of the following four courses: NEU 501a, NEU 501b, NEU 502a, or NEU 502b. Additionally, all students in the joint program are expected to participate in the neuroscience seminar (NEU 511), which meets several times per semester.
Prior to the general examination, students must select a Ph.D. adviser affiliated with the Neuroscience Institute. Students are required to take and pass their general exam in their home department.
Students must carry out original research toward the dissertation with a core, associated or affiliated Neuroscience Institute faculty member. In addition, at least one member of the student’s thesis committee must be a core faculty member of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and the student’s Ph.D. thesis research should have a significant neuroscience component.
Uri Hasson, Co-Director
H. Sebastian Seung, Co-Director
Asif A. Ghazanfar
Michael J. Berry, also Molecular Biology
Lisa M. Boulanger, Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Carlos D. Brody, also Molecular Biology
Timothy J. Buschman, also Psychology
Jonathan D. Cohen, also Psychology
Nathaniel D. Daw, also Psychology
Lynn W. Enquist, also Molecular Biology
Asif A. Ghazanfar, also Psychology
Elizabeth Gould, also Psychology
Michael S. Graziano, also Psychology
Uri Hasson, also Psychology
Barry L. Jacobs, also Psychology
Sabine Kastner, also Psychology
Carolyn McBride, also Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Mala Murthy, also Molecular Biology
Yael Niv, also Psychology
Kenneth A. Norman, also Psychology
Jonathan W. Pillow, also Psychology
H. Sebastian Seung, also Computer Science
David W. Tank, also Molecular Biology
Samuel S. H. Wang, also Molecular Biology
Ilana B. Witten, also Psychology
William Bialek, Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics
Elizabeth R. Gavis, Molecular Biology
Alan Gelperin, also Molecular Biology
Coleen T. Murphy, Molecular Biology, Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics
Joshua W. Shaevitz, Physics and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics
Jordan A. Taylor, Psychology
Alexander T. Todorov, Psychology
Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Psychology
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.