The Best Neuroscience PhD Programs

Written by jared lewis
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The Best Neuroscience PhD Programs
Neuroscience is concerned with the brain and all aspects of the nervous system. (blue brain image by John Sfondilias from

Neuroscience is a speciality within the biological sciences dealing with the study of the nervous system. A Ph.D. in neuroscience generally qualifies those holding it to teach in universities and work for various research institutions specialising in neuroscience and other forms of biological science. Various approaches and emphases exist within the field such as evolutionary studies, computational studies and molecular neuroscience. "U.S. News & World Report" ranked the top neuroscience programs in the United States in 2010. Three programs emerged as the clear leaders.

Harvard University

The top ranked neuroscience department in the nation is located at Harvard University. Harvard's neuroscience program is an interdepartmental program leading to the Ph.D. During the first two years of study, students begin to narrow their potential dissertation topic and work with an advisory committee toward that end. The first year of the program involves in-depth study of subjects such as systems neurophysiology, cellular electrophysiology, developmental neuroscience and molecular neurophysiology. Students also receive hands-on experience with weekly laboratory rotations. The entire program takes about 5.5 years to complete. Students have the benefit of performing research in one of four different Harvard research campuses in Longwood or Cambridge or at the Massachusetts General or McLean hospitals. At each of these four locations, students have multiple research facilities from which they can conduct studies.

Harvard University Programs in Biological and Biomedical Sciences Gordon Hall, Room 005 Boston, MA 02115 617-432-0884

Stanford University

The second highest rated neuroscience program, according to the "U.S. News & World Report" rankings, is Stanford University. Stanford, like Harvard, is internationally renowned for its interdisciplinary research programs. Its neuroscience program is no different. Areas of research covered by the Stanford program include epilepsy, nervous system development, machine-brain interfaces, synapse assembly, sleep, cognitive processing, neurodegeneration, neuroplasticity and pain perception. Like the Harvard program, students spend much of the first year taking foundational courses and completing laboratory rotations to receive hands-on experience. Courses of study include translational neuroscience, molecular, cellular and developmental neuroscience; and computational, systems, cognitive and behavioural neuroscience.

Stanford University Neurosciences Program CCSR 4235c 269 Campus Drive Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA 94305 650-723-9855

University of California--San Francisco

The Ph.D. program at the University of California in San Francisco is the No. 3 rated program in the nation. Like the programs at both Stanford and Harvard, the UCSF program benefits from conducting its research alongside one of the top-rated medical schools in the nation. It also resembles the other programs in its interdisciplinary nature. The primary research emphases of the program include neurological disorders, degenerative disease, pain, psychiatric disorders and addictions, among others. Lab rotations and coursework make up the majority of the first year of the program followed by research in the subsequent years. Courses of study include topics such as cellular and molecular neuroscience, neural and behavioural data analysis, neurobiology of vision, signalling in neurobiology and genetics, development and cell biology of the nervous system.

University of California--San Francisco Graduate Division 1675 Owens St. San Francisco, CA 94143 415-476-2310

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