About the Program
The Neuroscience Graduate Program at UC Berkeley is a unique, diverse PhD training program that offers intensive, integrated training in multiple areas of neuroscience research.
The program includes approximately 65 training faculty from different campus departments, with expertise ranging from molecular and cellular neuroscience to systems and computational neuroscience to human cognitive neuroscience.
We provide a highly interdisciplinary, intellectually dynamic training environment of coursework, research training, professional development, and mentoring, within a strong research program that produces fundamental advances in knowledge and novel techniques.
Admission to the University
Applying for Graduate Admission
Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. A complete list of graduate academic departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.
Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application can be found on the Graduate Division website.
The minimum graduate admission requirements are:
A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and
Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.
For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.
Where to apply?
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Admission to the Program
Applicants to the program should have a bachelor's degree from a four-year college and at least one year of laboratory experience. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is optional. For more information on our program requirements go to: https://neuroscience.berkeley.edu/phd-applications/.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
Normative Time Requirements
Normative Time to Advancement
Normative time to advancement is 2 years.
Step I: Lab Rotations and Presentations, First Year Classes
During the first year of graduate study, each neuroscience graduate student spends three 10-week periods performing research projects in different faculty laboratories. The goal is to expose students to different techniques and approaches in neuroscience and to provide training in experimental design, critical analysis of data, and presentation of research findings. Rotations also allow students to identify the laboratory in which their thesis research will be performed. Rotation research is graded and receives academic credit. This is accomplished by enrolling in NEUROSC 291A/B, a year-long course, during the rotation year. Also during the first-year students take NEUROSC 290A/B Methods & Career Skills Classes which introduce a broad range of modern neuroscience research methods in didactic lectures and provide advising in initial career skills. NEUROSC 290A (Fall) includes a survey of cutting-edge research methods, advising on how to choose a thesis mentor, training in scientific rigor and reproducibility, and an introduction to the use and misuse of statistics in neuroscience research. NEUROSC 290B (Spring) includes in-depth training on how to give a top-notch scientific talk, advising on how to write effective research papers, and on scientific project management. Finally, student also enroll in MCELLBI 293C during the spring of their first year to ensure that research trainees receive ample training in Responsible Conduct in Research, and to gain an understanding of federal, state, and UC Berkeley policies and resources available to further support their research endeavors.
Step II: Qualifying Exam
Students complete an oral qualifying exam during the spring semester of Year 2. The examination has three parts: Thesis Proposal, Related Research Areas, and Foundational Questions in Neuroscience. The thesis proposal is in the form of a written, NIH-style grant proposal, which is turned in to the committee, and then defended orally. Related Research Areas are identified cooperatively by the student and his/her committee prior to the exam, and are chosen to be complementary to the main thesis research subject. These areas are examined orally. The Foundational Questions in Neuroscience are designed to test broad knowledge in Neuroscience. These are a published list of questions, the same for all students, that are available upon entry to the program. These questions are designed to test basic common knowledge of neuroscience facts and principles, and a subset of them are examined orally during the qualifying exam. During the exam, students must demonstrate the ability to recognize fundamentally important research problems, propose relevant experimental approaches, and display comprehensive knowledge of appropriate disciplinary areas and related subjects. Students must pass the qualifying examination before advancing to doctoral candidacy.
Normative Time in Candidacy
Normative time in candidacy is 3-4 years.
Step III: Dissertation
Students undertake research for the PhD dissertation under a four-person committee in charge of their research and dissertation. Students do original research using a wide variety of cutting-edge neuroscience methods. During this time, students must meet at least annual with their thesis committee to discuss dissertation progress, review experimental results, set goals, and ensure students are adhering to appropriate timelines to completion. The students then write a dissertation based on the results of their research.
STEP IV: Dissertation Presentation/Formal Exit Seminar
There is no formal defense of the completed dissertation. However, Neuroscience students are required to publicly present a thesis seminar about their dissertation research in their final year. On completion of the research and approval of the dissertation by the committee, the students are awarded the doctorate.
Total Normative Time
Total normative time is 5-6 years.
Pedagogy, Rotations, Ethics, & Seminar Courses
Student must take all of the following courses. Pedagogy, Rotations, and Ethics courses are taken in year 1. Brain Lunch Seminar is taken in Years 1, 2, and 4.
|NEUROSC 290A||Neuroscience Research Design and Analysis||1|
|NEUROSC 290B||Neuroscience Career Skills||1|
|NEUROSC 291A||Neuroscience Introduction to Research||4-12|
|NEUROSC 291B||Neuroscience Introduction to Research||4-12|
|Ethics in Research|
|MCELLBI 293C||Responsible Conduct in Research||1|
|Brain Lunch Seminar|
|NEUROSC 294||Neuroscience Graduate Student Presentation Seminar (Brain Lunch)||1|
|All students are required to enroll in the Brain Lunch seminar for 1 semester in each of Years 1 and 2, and again in Year 4 (see "Presentations" under "Required Professional Development" below)|
One Graduate Course in Each of the Following Three Foundational Areas
Students can either take one graduate-level course from each category, or three graduate level courses from two areas, plus a selected advanced undergraduate course from a third area. They are taken in years 1–2. Courses offered will vary depending on the semester. The courses below are samples of courses that fulfill the area requirements.
1. Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience
|MCELLBI 160||Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology||4|
|MCELLBI 166||Biophysical Neurobiology||3|
|MCELLBI 230||Advanced Cell and Developmental Biology||4|
|MCELLBI 231||Advanced Developmental and Stem Cell Biology||4|
|MCELLBI 240||Advanced Genetic Analysis||4|
|NEUROSC/MCELLBI C261||Cellular and Developmental Neurobiology||3|
2. Systems and Computational Neuroscience
|INTEGBI 139||The Neurobiology of Stress||4|
|MCELLBI 236||Advanced Mammalian Physiology||5|
|NEUROSC/MCELLBI C262||Circuit and Systems Neurobiology||3|
|PSYCH 210B||Proseminar: Cognition, Brain, and Behavior||3|
|VIS SCI 260C||Introduction to Visual Neuroscience||3|
|VIS SCI 265||Neural Computation||3|
3. Cognition, Brain and Behavior
|PSYCH 117||Human Neuropsychology||3|
|PSYCH C127||Cognitive Neuroscience||3|
|PSYCH 210A||Proseminar: Cognition, Brain, and Behavior||3|
|PSYCH 240A||Proseminar: Biological, Cognitive, and Language Development||3|
|PB HLTH C217D||Biological and Public Health Aspects of Alzheimer's Disease||3|
|PB HLTH 290||Health Issues Seminars (Neuroepidemiology)||1-4|
|VIS SCI 262||Visual Cognitive Neuroscience||3|
One course on statistical analysis or quantitative methods
Students must complete a 1-semester course in Applied Statistics in Neuroscience, or an equivalent approved course in statistics or quantitative analysis methods. This can be completed at any time prior to the semester of graduation. Students with prior appropriate coursework or whose thesis research uses substantial quantitative methods can use that prior experience to fulfill this requirement, subject to approval by the Head Graduate Adviser.
|NEUROSC 299||Seminars (Applied Statistics for Neuroscience)||1-3|
One Graduate Elective Course
Students must take one additional elective course. This can be either a graduate-level seminar or graduate-level lecture course, and can be 1 unit or more. This is typically taken in years three-four. You may also select a foundation course as an elective. Consult your thesis adviser and thesis committee to select the most appropriate course for you.
|EL ENG 290A||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Computer-Aided Design||1-3|
|EL ENG 290B||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Solid State Devices||1-3|
|EL ENG 290C||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Circuit Design||1-3|
|EL ENG 290D||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Semiconductor Technology||1-3|
|EL ENG 290F||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Photonics||1-3|
|EL ENG 290N||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in System Theory||1-3|
|EL ENG 290O||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Control||1-3|
|EL ENG 290P||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Bioelectronics||1-3|
|EL ENG 290Q||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Communication Networks||1-3|
|EL ENG 290S||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Communications and Information Theory||1-3|
|EL ENG 290T||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Advanced Topics in Signal Processing||1-3|
|EL ENG 290Y||Advanced Topics in Electrical Engineering: Organic Materials in Electronics||3|
|LINGUIS 290A||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Syntax||3|
|LINGUIS 290B||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Semantics||3|
|LINGUIS 290D||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Pragmatics||3|
|LINGUIS 290E||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Phonology||3|
|LINGUIS 290F||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Diachronic Linguistics||3|
|LINGUIS 290H||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Linguistic Reconstruction||3|
|LINGUIS 290L||Additional Seminar on Special Topics to Be Announced||3|
|LINGUIS 290M||Topics in Linguistic Theory: Psycholinguistics||3|
|MCELLBI 290||Graduate Seminar||1|
|PSYCH 290B||Seminars: Biological||2|
|PSYCH 290E||Seminars: Perception||2|
|PSYCH 290H||Seminars: Developmental||2|
|PSYCH 290I||Seminars: Personality||2|
|PSYCH 290J||Seminars: Social||2|
|PSYCH 290K||Seminars: Clinical||2|
|PSYCH 290Q||Seminars: Cognition||2|
|VIS SCI 298||Group Studies, Seminars, or Group Research||1-6|
|PSYCH 102||Methods for Research in Psychological Sciences||3|
|PSYCH 111||Human Neuroanatomy||3|
|PSYCH 115||Introduction to Brain Imaging Analysis Methods||3|
|PSYCH 125||The Developing Brain||3|
|PSYCH 205||Data Analysis||3|
|PSYCH 208||Methods in Computational Modeling for Cognitive Science||3|
|STAT 150||Stochastic Processes||3|
|STAT 151A||Linear Modelling: Theory and Applications||4|
|STAT 153||Introduction to Time Series||4|
|STAT 158||Experimental Design||4|
|STAT C241A||Statistical Learning Theory||3|
|STAT C241B||Advanced Topics in Learning and Decision Making||3|
|STAT 248||Analysis of Time Series||4|
|MATH 118||Fourier Analysis, Wavelets, and Signal Processing||4|
|Computer Science and Programming|
|COMPSCI C280||Computer Vision||3|
|EL ENG 120||Signals and Systems||4|
|EL ENG 123||Digital Signal Processing||4|
|EL ENG 126||Probability and Random Processes||4|
|EL ENG 221A||Linear System Theory||4|
|EL ENG 226A||Random Processes in Systems||4|
|EL ENG C227C||Convex Optimization and Approximation||3|
|EL ENG 229A||Information Theory and Coding||3|
|BIO ENG 231||Introduction to Computational Molecular and Cellular Biology||4|
|BIO ENG C265/EL ENG C225E||Principles of Magnetic Resonance Imaging||4|
|VIS SCI 260A||Optical and Neural Limits to Vision||3|
|VIS SCI 260D||Seeing in Time, Space and Color||3|
|PB HLTH 245||Introduction to Multivariate Statistics||4|
Required Professional Development
During their fourth year of study, students are required to make a presentation on the progress of their thesis work while enrolling in NEUROSC 294 (Neuroscience Graduate Student Presentation Seminar, also known as "Brain Lunch"), a journal club, for a letter grade.
Neuroscience students are required to serve as graduate student instructors (GSIs) for two semesters. Whenever possible, GSI assignments are determined with an eye toward student research interests. Teaching occurs during fall semester of the second year and spring semester of the third. Teaching affords students supervised experience in a variety of educational situations, including labs, discussion sections, and demonstrations. GSIs also participate in record-keeping, grading, advising, and student consultations.
GSIs are evaluated by both supervising faculty and the students they teach. These evaluations become a permanent part of the student file. Deserving GSIs are nominated for the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award.