Curriculum Requirements

Students in the CUNY Neuroscience Collaborative (CNC) follow a similar course of study regardless of their program affiliation, and participate in lab rotations/these research across both programs and with any faculty affiliated with the CNC.

Both the Ph.D. in Biology: Neuroscience and the Ph.D. in Psychology: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience require a total of 60 credits of approved graduate course work. Students are also expected to:

  • Pass a First Examination given at the end of the first academic year in the Program (June)
  • Pass a Second Examination (thesis proposal)
  • Complete lab rotations according to their chosen degree (2-3 rotations of 10-15 weeks for students in Biology or Psychology)
  • Conduct original research, write and defend a dissertation

Core Curriculum and Path to Degree

Required Courses

  • Neuroscience I: Molecular, cellular and developmental basis of neuronal function.
  • Neuroscience II: Organization of functional systems mediating behavior and cognition.
  • Laboratory Rotations (2-3 lab rotations chosen by student)
  • Neuroscience Seminar Course
  • Quantitative Requirement


First-Year Exam (Written Grant Proposal and its Oral Presentation)

Required Courses

  • Ethics in Research Conduct and Responsibility
  • Neuroscience Seminar Course
  • Quantitative Neuroscience (*required for Psychology, strongly suggested for Biology)
  • Elective Coursework (3 courses required) - See list below for examples of available courses and seminars


Advisory Committee Meeting. The students will create an Advisory Committee, in consultation with their dissertation adviser. This committee will meet with the student at the end of Year 2 and will serve as the basis for the Dissertation Committee, which continually provides support for research and career guidance. 

Students spend full-time in their chosen research laboratory. In consultation with their Advisor, students will prepare a draft of their dissertation proposal, which is the basis of the Second Examination.


The Second Examination is completed by the end of Year 3. It is administered by the Dissertation Committee (based on the Advisory Committee established in Year 2). The Second Exam consists of a draft proposal in the form of an NSF or NRSA predoctoral fellowship. This Exam is designed to ensure that students have mastered the basic information, methods and modes of analysis necessary to proceed towards the Dissertation. Continued progress in the program requires satisfactory passage of the Examination within 2 attempts.

Students continue to work on the research towards the Dissertation proposal, and begin to generate draft manuscripts for publication based upon one or more of their research studies. Students continue to receive support from their Dissertation Committee.


Annual meeting with the Dissertation Committee.

Students will complete and submit for publication manuscripts based upon their Thesis research. Discussions with advisors and Grad Center counsellors on career planning will include opportunities as postdoctoral fellows, careers in biotechnology, academia, public service, science communication and policy.  


Submission and defense of the Thesis Dissertation.

Electives and other specialized training courses

The list below indicates some of the specialized courses available to doctoral students. Seminars are particularly important because they provide an opportunity for the student to read and critique recent original research papers. The trainee will choose electives in collaboration with his/her advisory committee.                                                                                                       

A sampling of elective courses and seminars

  • Animal Behavior I: Evolution
  • Animal Behavior II: Mechanisms
  • Animal Communication
  • Anatomy of Human Cognition
  • Behavioral Pharmacology
  • Biology of Cancer Progression
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology of Myelination
  • Clinical Psychopharmacology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Attention
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory Systems
  • Image Analysis
  • Methods in Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Learning: Behavioral Mechanisms
  • Learning: Neural Mechanisms
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neurochemistry
  • Neural Mechanisms of Motivation
  • Neuroscience of Perception
  • Science and Diplomacy: What Scientists Can do on a Global Stage
  • Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
  • Signal Processing for Neuroscientists
  • Statistical Methods
  • Seminar, Landmark Papers in Model Systems
  • Seminar, Sensory Processing
  • Seminar, Motor Control
  • Seminar, Brain Circuits Regulating Learning and Memory
  • Seminar, Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Seminar, Theory of Deep Learning