PIN Program Requirements for Current Students


The Neuroscience Program had offered the PhD (post-bachelor and post-master) and MA degrees. This is an overview of the requirements for the Program for students that are finishing their degree as the program is no longer accepting new students.  Please see the Graduate Program for Neuroscience if you are interested in beginning your study at Boston University.

Post-Bachelor’s PhD
For the post-bachelor’s PhD degree in NE, a total of 64 course credits are required. Of these, at least 32 of the credits must come from lecture, methods, or seminar courses as follows:

Required Core Courses and Rotations (20 credits total):

The following two courses are required and constitute a full-year survey of knowledge in experimental neuroscience (8 credits)
1) BI 755 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (4 cr.)
2) BI 756/PS 738 Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience (4 cr.)

The following courses constitute a survey of computational approaches to neuroscience. One of the following must be taken. Alternative courses with different modeling perspectives are offered for both the systems and cellular levels of analysis. (4 credits)
1) BE 507 Quantitative Studies of Excitable Tissues
2) CN 510 Principles & Methods of Cognitive & Neural Modeling I
3) CN 580 Introduction to Computational Neuroscience
4) PS 530 Neural Models of Memory Function

Required Graduate Student Seminar Series (4 cr. total):
NE 500/501 Progress in Neuroscience (2 credits each). A student is required to attend this seminar series throughout his/her graduate career, but may count only a total of 4 credits toward the degree.

Required Laboratory Projects/Rotations: (at least 4 cr.)
NE 800/801/802 Research in Neuroscience (2 credits each). Laboratory/ tutorial rotations with participating faculty. All students must take at least two rotations (6–8 weeks), one of which must be jointly supervised by an experimental and a computational neuroscientist. A paper is due at the completion of the joint rotation.

Alternative Computational Rotation: Instead of rotating in a computational lab, students may opt to sit in on the first half of a computational course and take an individualized midterm to assess their progress. This rotation will be individually set up and the student should consult the Program Director if considering this rotation. An additional experimental rotation may be required if this is chosen.

It is STRONGLY recommended that at least one of the following methods courses be taken (8 cr.):

1) BI 575 Techniques in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience (4 cr.)
2) CN 500 Computational Methods in Cognitive and Neural Systems (4 cr.) 3) AN 718 Methods in Neuroscience (4cr).

Elective Courses:
For the post-BA PhD, 12 elective credits are required in additon to the core required courses. See Course Offerings for Neuroscience electives.

Post-Master’s PhD
For the post-master’s PhD, 32 credits are required. The required courses are the same as described for the post-bachelor’s PhD. However, depending on the student background, one or more of the required courses may be waived in consultation with the course instructors of those courses and subject to approval by the Neuroscience Steering Committee. At least 20 credits must come from coursework.

For the PhD degree, preliminary reviews and qualifying examinations must be passed.

1. Preliminary review: It is required that students take both survey courses,
BI 755 and BI 756/PS 738 to ensure they have a base knowledge of general neuroscience. Students will be monitored in their rotations through evaluations of progress and communication between faculty and the Program Director.

2. Qualifying Exam: The qualifying examination consists of two parts: a written research proposal and the oral defense of this research proposal. The student will submit a research proposal in the area of the intended thesis research. The proposal will be presented orally to an examining committee who may pose questions related to the intended research, background information, and areas of potential weakness. With a passing mark on the examination, the student will advance to PhD candidacy.

3. Dissertation Defense: After advancing to candidacy for the PhD, the student and his/her major professor must jointly convene a Thesis Committee which meets at least once a year. The PhD student should present either a written or oral report on research progress to the thesis committee. This committee consists of no less than five faculty, of whom at least three must be members of the PIN faculty. The student will propose a dissertation topic and submit a dissertation prospectus approved by the Thesis Committee and Program Director. The dissertation prospectus should be completed before the more extensive phase of dissertation research is undertaken.

The dissertation is “defended” at the final Thesis Committee meeting at a time agreed on by the student and the Thesis Committee. At least two weeks prior to the defense, all work that comprises the dissertation and the written thesis, which has been approved by all readers, must be distributed to the committee. At the final Thesis Committee meeting the committee agrees on the adequacy of the body of work and written thesis for the PhD degree. Finally, there is a required public seminar.

Master’s Degree
For the MA, 32 credits of coursework are required, including the required courses listed above for the PhD degree. For a non-research MA, a library review paper covering a topic agreed upon with the student advisor is required. The paper must be approved by the student MA committee. For a research MA, the student must submit and orally defend a thesis describing original research performed by the student. The thesis and oral presentation must be approved by the student MA committee. For those doing a research master’s they cannot get credit for BI 701/702, which is restricted to those writing a library research thesis. The MA evaluation committee in either case consists of at least three faculty members, of who at least two must be members of the PIN program. The thesis/paper must be approved by the committee.