The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Neurobiology - PhD

Division: Biological Sciences
Degree Type: PhD 

Program Description

There has never been a more exciting time to study neurobiology. Novel molecular, cellular, systems-level, and computational techniques are now used to explore the functions of the brain to an extent that was unforeseen only a short time ago. More than ever before, it is critical to work in an environment that fosters an interdisciplinary scientific and technical approach to neurobiology. The University of Chicago's Graduate Program in Neurobiology, with more than 60 faculty members using state-of-the-art techniques, is such a place.

The Graduate Program in Neurobiology is a large, interdisciplinary program dedicated to graduate education in neurobiology. All students receive concentrated attention from faculty who serve as mentors, advisory committee members and course instructors. Research strengths at The University of Chicago include molecular neurobiology, cellular neurophysiology, developmental neurobiology, systems neuroscience and computational neurobiology.

The interdisciplinary and collaborative organization at The University of Chicago makes for a vibrant and diverse community that is committed to exploring new frontiers in neurobiology research. 

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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 Neuroscience Program admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

The Neuroscience Program admits applicants only for the PhD degree. 

Application Requirements

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


Admissions Decisions

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

Program Requirements

Each student takes a core curriculum of 7 courses: behavioral neurobiology, cellular neurobiology, developmental neurobiology, molecular neurobiology, systems neurobiology, synaptic physiology and cell biology. In addition, students are required to take at least 3 additional courses to strengthen their research interests. 

During the first year, students rotate through different laboratories while they take course work. 

At the end of the second year, students write a critical essay on a particular research question of their choosing. The essay is followed by an oral defense before a committee of Neurobiology faculty who are not part of the advisory committee. 

During the third or fourth year, the student writes a thesis proposal and defends this before the advisory committee. Some evidence of the student's ability to make original laboratory observations should be available at this time. 

Students in the Biological Sciences Division are required to spend time in the classroom as a teaching assistant. One of these requirements may be satisfied by the teaching assistant training course offered each Autumn Quarter. 

Candidates for a Ph.D. in Neurobiology must complete an original thesis suitable for publication. The final report on the thesis is public, followed by a private oral examination by the advisory committee and other faculty members.




Costs & Financial Aid

Initial fellowship support which includes tuition, fees, and a stipend ($27,000 during 2009-2010) is provided by means of federal training grants and a limited amount of university funds; highly qualified students are encouraged to apply for individual funding through outside agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Advanced students are supported by laboratory funds when the dissertation research closely matches the specific aims of the lab advisor's research grants.