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Neuroscience Specialization


The Neuroscience specialization in the Graduate Program in Biological Sciences at Marquette University brings together researchers from the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Department of Biological Sciences to train students for independent careers as neuroscience researchers while also building their skills as educators.  Graduate students in the neuroscience Ph.D. program will develop expertise in one area of neuroscience research, but will also have a strong general background in other neuroscience subspecialties and related disciplines.  To achieve this, students will take interdisciplinary core and advanced courses in neuroscience and related courses in biology, while also developing an independent line of research under the supervision of faculty members in the program.

The Neuroscience faculty are internationally recognized leaders in their fields and their combined expertise fuels a rich collaborative and multi-disciplinary neuroscience research environment.  Our faculty have research programs focused on determining the neural mechanisms underlying reward and addiction, schizophrenia, obesity, spinal cord injury/repair, depression, learning and memory, circadian systems, and neurodegenerative disorders.  

To enhance the curriculum and research programs, the College of Health Sciences also sponsors the Integrative Neuroscience Research Center (INRC), a consortium of multi-disciplinary researchers in the greater Milwaukee area committed to advancing neuroscience research and education.


Program Objectives

The anticipated learning outcomes for the Ph.D. degree program include:


Choosing a Laboratory 

The major endeavor of any graduate student is the research that culminates in a dissertation or thesis. This research must be original and meet the highest standards of quality and thoroughness. To help in determining the best fit of student and mentor, first-year students complete three laboratory rotations with selected neuroscience faculty. To review the participating faculty please click here. During the rotations, which are eight weeks in duration, the students are temporary members of the laboratories whose research appears to be of greatest interest to them. Before the end of the student's second semester, an advisor who guides both research and selection of coursework is chosen by mutual agreement between faculty and student. The relatively small size of the research groups in the program allows students to interact closely with the faculty. It is expected that manuscripts arising from dissertation research are published in highly-respected peer reviewed journals.


Course requirements for students in the Neuroscience Specialization include three comprehensive introductory courses and survey course of neuroscience literature.  In addition, neuroscience students also take elective courses.  To review the neuroscience course curriculum, please click here. Upon joining the program, each student consults with an advisor who considers the student's interests and undergraduate coursework and helps chart the first year of study.  Once a student has a formal research advisor, the student's course of study is guided by a Ph.D. advisory committee chosen by the student and the research advisor.  In addition to the graduate courses, students may select upper-level undergraduate courses.  Important in every student's program are the seminar courses, in which small groups of students and faculty examine in depth the current literature on specific topics of widespread interest. 


Undergraduate education is a very important activity of the research faculty at Marquette. Every graduate student gains experience in this endeavor by observing and by participating first-hand as a teaching assistant for at least two semesters. Recognizing that college teaching is often a major activity of Ph.D. graduates, yet traditionally one neglected in graduate training, the Marquette Graduate School developed an innovative instructional program entitled “Preparing Future Faculty” for graduate students interested in teaching careers.

Other Academic Activities

Students participate in one or more journal clubs that meet once a week to critically review an important recent publication. Because of the diverse research interests within the research community, these gatherings and the other informal interactions between members of different laboratories give our graduates a wide breadth of perspectives on biological problems that becomes invaluable as they start research and/or teaching careers. Research seminars sponsored by the Integrative Neuroscience Research Center are required for graduate students in the neuroscience track.

Doctoral Program

Ph.D. degree requirements include a minimum of 24 credit hours of course work, a Ph.D. qualifying examination, 12 credit hours of dissertation work, and a minimum of one year of teaching. A committee of five faculty members, including the dissertation advisor, guides the student in designing an individualized program. It is expected that the student will finish within four to six years.




Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881
(414) 288-7355
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