Requirements

Qualifying Exam

At the end of the first year, a three people-committee will be formed for each student. The chair of the committee will assign a paper in one of the four main areas of neurobiology: development, cellular and molecular, behavior or systems. The student will have about ten days to write up to six pages of comments and critique of the assigned paper. These will include technical and conceptual aspects of the paper, its broad impact in the field, the strengths and limits of the experiments, the validity of the conclusions and the further questions the work leads up to. About ten days after submitting the text, the student will undergo an oral follow-up in which the members of his/her exam committee will test, in detail, the understanding by the student of all components of the assigned paper. A passing grade on the written text and oral follow-up will fulfill the graduate school requirements for a written exam.

C. Format of the Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal
The dissertation proposal is a written document that should be submitted to the DGC at least two weeks in advance of the meeting at which the student will be orally examined on the proposal. This should occur no later than one (1) year following completion of the Qualifying Examination.
The proposal is to take the form of an NRSA fellowship and be divided into:
A. Specific Aims
B. Background/Significance
C. Preliminary Studies
D. Research Design
Sections A-D are limited to 10 papers (total).
A projected timetable for completion of the research should also be included. Appropriate and complete references must be included, following NIH guidelines. Budget, personnel, funding, and resources information are NOT required, although any unusual resource requirements should be identified and their availability for the dissertation research indicated.
It is the responsibility of the DGC to evaluate this proposal and approve it if warranted. The student will orally present and defend this proposal at a meeting with the DGC, which can be viewed as a “site visit” of the dissertation proposal.
It is the obligation of the student and the mentor to notify members of the DGC and the Director of significant changes in the scope or direction of the research project in a timely manner. Major changes must be approved by the DGC. This requirement is in place to provide security for the student, so that the mentor (or the committee) cannot change requirements or add more experiments after they have approved a specific set of experiments, unless it is well justified and agreed to by all involved.
D. Dissertation Proposal Defense (Oral Exam)
The specialty examination is administered by the student's DGC and consists of an oral presentation and defense of the formal dissertation research proposal. It is expected at that time that the student will demonstrate:
1. Mastery of the relevant literature pertaining to the research area and specific project. This may include general knowledge in any area of Neurobiology that is relevant to the student’s research area.
2. Facility with the technical approaches to be employed in the research including the limitations.
3. An appropriate sense of scope for the project (grasp that does not exceed reach).
4. Ability to think of the project in the broader context of Neurobiology and relate possible observations to other research areas.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is a written document that should be submitted to the DGC at least two weeks in advance of the meeting at which the student will be orally examined on the proposal. This should occur no later than one (1) year following completion of the Qualifying Examination.The proposal is to take the form of an NRSA fellowship and be divided into: Specific Aims, Background/Significance, Preliminary Studies, Research Design

These above sections are limited to 10 papers (total). A projected timetable for completion of the research should also be included. Appropriate and complete references must be included, following NIH guidelines. Budget, personnel, funding, and resources information are NOT required, although any unusual resource requirements should be identified and their availability for the dissertation research indicated.  It is the responsibility of the Dissertation Guidance Committee to evaluate this proposal and approve it if warranted. The student will orally present and defend this proposal at a meeting with the DGC. It is expected at that time that the student will demonstrate:

1. Mastery of the relevant literature pertaining to the research area and specific project. This may include general knowledge in any area of Neurobiology that is relevant to the student’s research area.

2. Facility with the technical approaches to be employed in the research including the limitations.

3. An appropriate sense of scope for the project (grasp that does not exceed reach).

4. Ability to think of the project in the broader context of Neurobiology and relate possible observations to other research areas.

Dissertation

Following completion of the dissertation research, the student will write a dissertation that documents the entire project as a scholarly work. The formal defense of the dissertation is a two stage event. The first stage is a closed oral examination of the student by the Dissertation Guidance Committee. The committee can at its discretion invite a few additional persons with particular interest or expertise in the subject to observe the formal defense. The dissertation will be submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to this examination. Following the closed oral examination, the student will schedule a public presentation of the dissertation research to which the entire academic community is invited. This event will follow the closed committee defense by no less than one month. During the intervening period the student should make all corrections in the dissertation document as agreed upon by the committee, process all necessary paperwork associated with receiving the Ph.D. degree from the Graduate School.

The dissertation defense is a rigorous examination of the candidate's knowledge not only about their dissertation, but about related aspects of neuroscience, and fundamental scientific principles that are related to the work.

Here are the committee and exam forms that are a requirement: