The Training Program
Most students take 28 credits of required study that includes laboratory rotations and clinical rounds, as described below, and fulfill the 64 credit requirement for the Ph.D. by participating in the student seminar series, attending GPN-sponsored activities such as the distinguished lecture series and the neuroscience retreat, and from directed study with their thesis research mentor.
In the first year students take 18 credits of core coursework (courses taken together as an entering class) that cover the diverse field of neuroscience, from molecular to cellular, and systems to human cognition (12 credits), an introductory course in computational modeling that is tuned to the specific background of individual students (2 credits), and “Frontiers in Neuroscience” (4 credits) where they share lunch every week with a member of the broad group of faculty that make up the neuroscience community here at BU, develop important oral presentation skills, and learn to critically evaluate the literature in their field of interest as well as in areas outside of their earlier academic and research training.
During the first year students also receive required credit (2-4 credits) for participating in Laboratory Rotations that help them to develop important skills in lab bench research as well as identify a laboratory for future thesis research. During their second year, they choose elective curriculum (12 credits) that enhances their research interests, develop an appreciation for the human condition by participating in a unique opportunity to observe clinical cases in neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry (1-2 credits), and take an elective in probability and statistics that is relevant to their research. Together throughout their time in GPN they also take the mandated workshop requirement in Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) that is offered across the University with BU faculty participation.
For those students wanting to specialize in computational neuroscience, there is additional required study that leads to the doctor of philosophy in Neuroscience and Computational Neuroscience. Computational neuroscience students take their first year “core” classes with all GPN students and a minimum of two (rather than three) Laboratory Rotations, with at least one that gives them the experience of experimental research. Of course should a student want to do more rotations this can be arranged.
All students have the option of taking additional academic coursework rather than the Directed Study credits with the thesis mentor to make up the 64 credit requirement for the degree, especially as needed based upon their research interests or to supplement a lack of certain background during undergraduate study.
The goal for the majority of students will be to complete “core” requirements and to choose the laboratory for their thesis research by the end of the first year. Course requirements for GPN will most likely be completed by the end of the second year. All efforts are made to tailor the training program to the individual goals of the student taking into account their previous training experiences either at the undergraduate or Masters level. GPN committees continually evaluate, expand, and redesign “core” coursework and choices of advanced electives in order to offer its students the best curriculum available across the University.