The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Computational Neuroscience - PhD

Division: Biological Sciences
Degree Type: PhD

Program Description

The University of Chicago has a long tradition of innovative research in the neurosciences. K. C. Cole developed the voltage clamp here, Stephen Polyak and C. J. Herrick did pioneering work on the anatomy of the retina and brain, and Jack Cowan and Hugh Wilson were among the first to develop mathematical analyses of the dynamics of cortical neurons using non-linear dynamics. This tradition is continued in The Committee on Computational Neuroscience, which provides an interdepartmental and interdivisional focus for multidisciplinary training in neuroscience.

Computational neuroscience is a relatively new area of inquiry that is concerned with how components of animal and human nervous systems interact to produce behaviors. It relies on quantitative and modeling methods to understand the function of the nervous system, natural behaviors and cognitive processes, and to design human-made devices that duplicate behaviors. Course work in computational neuroscience can prepare students for research in neurobiology, psychology, or in the mathematical or engineering sciences. Graduates from this program move to traditional academic careers, to careers in biomedical research or engineering, or to opportunities in the corporate world.

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Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 1

The CNS program admits applicants only for the Ph.D. degree.

Degree Objective

The CNS program admits applicants only for the Ph.D. degree.

Application Requirements

  1. A completed application
  2. Non-refundable application fee
  3. Three Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE Scores
  5. TOEFL Scores for international applicants from non-English speaking countries
  6. Transcripts from all institutions attended after high school should be uploaded with the application


Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. No decisions will be given by phone or email.

Program Requirements

Students seeking the Ph.D. at the University of Chicago must be in full time residence for at least 16 quarters. During this time, students in Computational Neuroscience will take the nine required courses in the Computational Neuroscience curriculum; complete two laboratory rotations; and enroll for at least nine quarters of research. The required courses are typically taken in the first two years and arranged into three themes. The neuroscience theme presents the basic concepts and phenomena in neuroscience. The mathematics theme presents the quantitative techniques required for a modern analysis of the nervous system and behavior. The computational neuroscience theme illustrates how quantitative methodologies are used to understand neurons and behavior. Students can also take elective courses in computational neuroscience or related fields. Courses in engineering applications of computational neuroscience are also available through a course arrangement with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology and may be used as electives.

Students must pass a preliminary examination with both written and oral components at the end of their second year. In addition to satisfying course requirements, students must write and defend a dissertation based on original and publishable research. Students are expected to participate in the on-going Computational Neuroscience Seminar series, as well as occasional workshops, that are conducted during their stay in the program.

Costs & Financial Aid

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program receive financial support in the form of a stipend and tuition payments as long as they remain in good standing. Students are encouraged to apply for individual fellowships from the National Science Foundation, or other sources.