Neuroscience PhD Program at Washington University
in St. Louis aims to train the next generation of leaders
in neurobiology. The main objectives of the program
graduate students are enrolled in the Division
of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (DBBS),
an interdepartmental umbrella organization that facilitates
the educational and research goals of the University.
Other DBBS programs include:
Provide students with the skills necessary to conduct
research including the planning and implementation
of a unique research project in the field of neuroscience.
- Teach students the fundamental concepts within neuroscience
and how to apply those concepts in the critical analysis
of scientific research.
- Promote the professional development of students in
the areas of scientific writing and oral presentation.
- Promote interdisciplinary science by encouraging cooperation
and collaboration among students in different programs
- Developmental Biology
- Molecular Biophysics
- Molecular Cell Biology
- Molecular Genetics
- Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
- Evolutionary and Population Biology
- Plant biology
- Bio-organic Chemistry
students are admitted to the Neuroscience Program, but
are encouraged to participate in courses and/or laboratory
opportunities that are offered by the others.
Admission into the Neuroscience Program is highly competitive
with 10-15 students enrolled each year. All students
admitted to the Division receive a full stipend ($28,500
per year for 2013-2014) plus health coverage and tuition
Neuroscience Program has deep historical
roots that include Nobel Prize-winning work on
nerve conduction (Erlanger and Gasser), nerve growth
factor (Levi-Montalcini and Cohen) and signal transduction
(Sutherland). In recent years, the program has
diversified and expanded greatly, allowing it to remain
at the forefront of exciting developments in many different
broad range of research centers, program project grants
and research training grants at Washington University
foster a strong sense of collaboration and interdisciplinary
cooperation. The McDonnell Center for Cellular
and Molecular Neurobiology and the McDonnell Center
for Systems Neuroscience, both endowed by the James
S. McDonnell Foundation, support a wide variety of neuroscience
projects. Our other collaborative research centers bring
together clinicians, scientists, and patients to enhance
and promote translational research in many areas.
These centers include:
Hope Center for Neurological Disorders ,
which supports basic and clinical research
activities related to stroke, spinal cord injury,
traumatic brain injury, and other conditions associated
with damage to the nervous system.
Alzheimer's Disease Research Center ,
which carries out a multi-faceted approach
to the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer's
Neurofibromatosis (NF) Center , which was
established to position Washington University
as an international leader in NF basic and clinical
research as well as to serve as a beacon for “bench
to bedside” research in NF and related nervous
Washington University Pain Center , which
is committed to alleviating human suffering from
pain and aims to be the foremost center in the nation
for the advancement of pain science.
Students begin research rotations during their 1
st semester in the program.
- Students are encouraged to do up to 3 research rotations
to find the laboratory environment that best suits
their interests and needs.
- Students are expected to pick a doctoral advisor
and lab at the start of their 2 nd year in the program.
A set of two core courses are completed during year
- Cellular Neuroscience – An intensive 16-week
course covering a variety of topics in cellular
and molecular neurobiology.
- Systems Neuroscience – A 16-week course covering
functional neuroanatomy and clinical neurobiology.
- In subsequent years, students are required to participate
in oral presentation and ethics seminars.
In addition, a wide-variety of elective courses
and journal clubs are offered to increase knowledge
in computational neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience,
electrophysiology and other sub-fields within neuroscience.
Students can also apply for admission to
specific pathways designed to further their training
in their individual sub-fields.
- The Cognitive-Computational-Systems Neuroscience
) pathway offers additional training
that combines traditional cognitive and systems
level education with computational approaches in
an integrated curriculum.
Lucille P. Markey pathway is an innovative educational
experience introducing students and fellows to human
disease states not generally covered in graduate
- The Imaging Sciences Pathway offers additional training in the principles of imaging and its use in studying the brain and body.
- Students are required to act as a teaching assistant
for one course. Most students do this during
their 2 nd year in the program.
more information see the detailed curriculum
and official Neuroscience
Program guidelines .
- Qualifying examination - This exam, taken after
1 st year, takes the format of a NIH style grant
- Thesis Proposal and updates - 2 nd to 4 th year
- Doctoral Dissertation and Defense
Neuroscience Program strives to keep students on the
forefront of neuroscience research.
Retreat , which is held each fall at a lodge
in the countryside near St. Louis, provides a mixture
of academic, social, and outdoor activities in a relaxed
setting and attractive environment. The informal atmosphere
encourages interactions among students, postdoctoral
fellows, and faculty from different departments and
- Numerous seminar
series related to neuroscience are conducted
at both the Medical School and Danforth (Hilltop)
campuses. These events provide ample opportunity to
keep up with the latest research progress by neuroscientists
at Washington University, as well as by researchers
outside the university who are invited to speak.
- In addition, a number of endowed
lectureships honor some of Washington
University's pioneers in neuroscience and related
fields. These lectureships, dedicated to Viktor Hamburger,
George H. Bishop, Mildred Trotter, Robert J. Terry,
and Philip Dodge, bring renowned neuroscientists to
the Washington University campus.
- Finally, our student
sponsored journal club gives students
an opportunity to describe their own research as well
as critically analyze the work of others.