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Administrative Unit:Neuroscience Training Program
College/School: School of Medicine and Public Health
Admitting Plans:Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.S., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Ph.D. Minor

Faculty: Professor T. Yin (chair). For a list of faculty who are members of the program, contact the program office or see the program website.


The Neuroscience Training Program was established in 1971. Currently, it comprises over 90 faculty members whose research interests range from molecular neurobiology to integrative systems. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in research and teaching. On average the number of students in the program is approximately 50, half of whom are women. The program is best suited for students who are independent and wish to take a direct role in determining their graduate education. Training leads to the Ph.D. degree in neuroscience or the M.D./Ph.D. degree in cooperation with the School of Medicine and Public Health.

The doctoral program of each graduate student in the training program is tailored to meet individual needs. Each student's program is supervised by an advisory committee of five faculty members selected by the student in consultation with the major professor. During the first year students complete three laboratory rotations and take one-semester courses in molecular/cellular neuroscience and systems neuroscience. Students also take one upper-level course in molecular/cellular and systems neuroscience. Additional advanced courses may be taken to complement individual research interests.

A preliminary examination is required of all Ph.D. degree candidates at the end of the second year of graduate study. The examination consists of two written papers that are presented orally to the student's advisory committee. The first paper is a critical evaluation of a research topic outside the student's major area of interest. The second paper is a thesis research proposal. Additional requirements for the Ph.D. degree are attendance at the weekly neuroscience seminar and completion of one semester of teaching.

The central forum for intellectual exchange in the program is the neuroscience seminar (Neurosci 900), which meets weekly and is attended by neuroscience students and faculty. During an academic year, members of the program choose six topics in current neuroscience research for consideration. Topics are reviewed intensively in study groups supervised by faculty sponsors. Critical summaries of each topic are then presented by students to participants in the seminar as a series of lectures and discussions. Each three- to four-week topic session concludes with a lecture by an outside invited speaker who is well known for his or her research in the topic area. In the course of every three- to four-year period, most of the major research areas in neuroscience are reviewed in the neuroscience seminar; consequently, students become familiar with the breadth of contemporary neuroscience.

The average time taken by students to complete the Ph.D. degree is five years. The program prepares students for careers primarily in research and teaching in universities and colleges. Of the more than 100 students who have earned the Ph.D. degree in the program, more than 85 percent have careers in biomedical science.

Double-Degree Program in Neuroscience and Public Affairs (M.P.A./Ph.D.) 

This double-degree program will lead to the Ph.D. in neuroscience (awarded by the Neuroscience Training Program) and a master of public affairs degree, with an emphasis on science and technology policy (awarded by the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs). The neuroscience and public affairs program will educate students who wish to use a critical understanding of neuroscience to inform public policy. The curriculum is designed to integrate training in the neurosciences and public policy. In coming decades, advances in brain science promise to fundamentally transform our understanding of the human mind, behavior, and mental health, posing new challenges for policy in areas such as education, health, welfare, and security. Graduates will pursue academic and policy careers.

Course work and other degree requirements are balanced to enable students to pursue both degrees in an integrated manner. Admission is conducted jointly by the two participating degree programs. The minimum course prerequisites are mathematics through calculus, one semester of microeconomics, one semester of American government and a year each of chemistry, physics, and biology. Prior laboratory research experience, while not required, is strongly recommended. The normal path will be for students to enter the two programs simultaneously in the first year. It is expected that students would complete both degrees within five to six years.

Financial Aid 

Each student receives a stipend that covers tuition, fees, living costs, and health insurance and is guaranteed for five years if progress is satisfactory. Financial support is provided from the program's NIH training grant, fellowships, and faculty research grants. Teaching assistantships are not used to support students. Limited support is available for international students.


Admission to the program is based mainly on demonstrated ability and interest in science and mathematics. The minimum course prerequisites are mathematics through calculus and a year each of chemistry, physics, and biology. Applicants for admission should submit all undergraduate and graduate transcripts, three letters of recommendation, scores from the GRE general test, and a statement of research interests and goals. Prior laboratory research experience, though not required, is strongly recommended.

For more information: Neuroscience Training Program, 7225 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706-1532; 608-262-4932; fax 608-265-2267; ntp.neuroscience.wisc.edu/
Neuroscience Training Program: ntp@mhub.neuroscience.wisc.edu
Dual-Degree Program in Neuroscience and Public Policy: npp@mhub.neuroscience.wisc.edu
Neuroscience Training Program: ntp.neuroscience.wisc.edu
Dual Degree Program in Neuroscience and Public Policy: npp.wisc.edu