Neurosciences Graduate Programs

The neurosciences program admits students directly for study on the Lawrence campus, with strengths in behavioral, biological, chemical, and pharmaceutical sciences, and the KU Medical Center campus in Kansas City, with strengths in all the biomedical and clinical sciences. Each student is asked which campus he or she would prefer. Students earn a Ph.D. degree in the neurosciences. In exceptional circumstances, the program also offers an M.S. degree in neurosciences.

Graduates can pursue careers in university teaching and research or conduct and supervise research in a pharmaceutical/biotechnology company or government laboratory.


Neuroscience is a truly multidisciplinary research field. All students are expected to be able to understand the fundamental principles and contributions of each of the major disciplines of the neurosciences core. New students receive training in biochemistry and molecular biology, cell biology, and physiology before proceeding with more focused courses.

Graduate Admission

All application materials are reviewed by faculty committees in Lawrence and Kansas City. Students should have B.A. or B.S. degrees in anthropology, behavioral sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, neuroscience, or pharmacological sciences. Preference is given to students who have completed courses in introductory and organic chemistry, calculus, physics, introductory biology, and at least 1 course in advanced biology topics such as biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, or molecular biology. Students who do not have sufficient training complete appropriate courses before admission. The program requires standard Graduate Record Examination scores with all applications, 3 letters of recommendation, and an essay by the applicant about his or her career goals. Selection is based on grade-point average, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and evidence of previous experience in research. The minimum standard is a grade-point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

Submit your graduate application online. Forward all requested supporting application documents to the program:

The University of Kansas
Neurosciences Graduate Program
Malott Hall
1251 Wescoe Hall Drive, Room 5064
Lawrence, KS 66045-7572

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The neuroscience curriculum is subdivided into core courses that all students must complete and electives representing the 2 major specializations,

  • Cell and Molecular Neuroscience and
  • Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience.

The core curriculum includes research rotations in 2 laboratories of the student’s choice during the first year. Laboratory rotations offer first-hand research experience. Students complete 2 rotations in faculty research laboratories in the first year. Laboratories are selected by the student and the co-directors. After the rotations, each student chooses a research advisor and begins an independent research project.

Students also receive training in the responsible conduct of research and teaching in the neurosciences. For the Ph.D., the student completes the core curriculum as well as research skills training, comprehensive oral examination, preparation of a dissertation, and final oral examination and defense of the dissertation.

Note: Contact your department or program for more information about research skills and responsible scholarship, and the current requirements for doctoral students. Current Lawrence and Edwards Campus policies on Doctoral Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship are listed in the KU Policy Library.

Core Curriculum for the Ph.D. in Neurosciences

Year 1
BIOL 7503PHSL 8465
Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience course3BIOL 6464
BIOL 7523Lab rotations 
Lab rotations NURO 8002
NURO 7992Research skill: 1 lecture course or 1 laboratory course3
 NURO 7992
 11 16
Year 2
NURO 801 (offered in the fall every odd-numbered year)1Completion of written and oral comprehensive examination 
Cell and Molecular Neuroscience course3 
First elective for Cell and Molecular Neuroscience or Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience3 
Second elective for Cell and Molecular Neuroscience or Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience3 
NURO 7992 
 12 0
Year 3
NURO 9991-11NURO 9991-11
 1-11 1-11
Year 4
NURO 9991-11NURO 9991-11
 1-11 1-11
Total Hours: 43-83

Students must

  • Complete 1 core course from Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience;
  • Complete 1 core course from Cell and Molecular Neuroscience;
  • Complete 1 core course from General Neurobiology;
  • Take Bioethics or NURO 801 Issues in Scientific Integrity; and
  • Receive training in effective oral communication and teaching by enrolling in 1 semester of NURO 800 Neuroscience Teaching Principles, which includes a teaching experience.

Neuroscience Courses

Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience (9)
BIOL 701Topics in: _____ (Brain Disorders and Neurological Disorders)3
NURO 844Neurophysiology3
PSYC 961Biological Foundations of Psychopathology3
Cell and Molecular Neuroscience (9)
BIOL 673Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology3
NURO 775Chemistry of the Nervous System3
NURO 848Molecular Mechanisms of Neurological Disorders3
General Neurobiology (10)
NURO 846Advanced Neuroscience5
NURO 710Advanced Neurobiology3
NURO 847Developmental Neurobiology2
Neuroscience Seminar (2)
NURO 799Neuroscience Seminar Series2
Scientific Integrity (1)
NURO 801Issues in Scientific Integrity1
Teaching Experience (2)
NURO 800Neuroscience Teaching Principles2

Continued enrollment in the neuroscience seminar is required, and students present at least 2 seminars during their graduate careers. In consultation with a 5-member faculty advisory committee including at least 3 members of the neuroscience program, each student chooses electives that provide training relevant to the research goals.

All students must complete a research skill. Commonly used areas are radiation biology and radiation safety, cell culture methodology, techniques of electron and confocal microscopy, molecular biology laboratory training, computer science training, statistics, and training in electronics and instrumentation.

After the first 2 years, students take the comprehensive oral examination. This consists of a research proposal in the general area of the doctoral research, written in NIH format, and an oral examination on the proposal and on general knowledge in neuroscience and related fields.