Ph.D. Degree Requirements

A minimum of 135 units, with at least 90 units taken at Stanford. For additional information about minimum residency requirements for PhD students, please see the Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures Handbook, Section 3.2. Please also view doctoral degree requirements in the Stanford Bulletin

Complete all required courses with a grade of B or better

Pass the qualifying exam

A minimum of one first author publication on the topic of the dissertation

Pass the University Oral Exam (thesis defense)

Submit a written dissertation

Ph.D Program Overview and Degree Timeline

The Neurosciences Program teaches students how to approach and solve research problems by developing skills in modern methods of neuroscience research, the ability to appraise the scientific literature and make scientific judgements, to be self-confident and skillful in communicating research results and ultimately to function as independent creative neuroscientists. Students work closely with faculty, postdoctoral fellows and other students to achieve these goals.

  • Incoming students attend a two-week boot camp in early September. Comprised of lectures and labs, students learn a host of techniques in cellular and moledular aspects of neuroscience while getting to know and work with their classmates. 
  • Coursework in the first year is NEPR 212: Responsible Conduct of Neuroscience and the 8 core modules. First year students may also attend the journal club course taken by 2nd and 3rd year students.
  • The program hosts weekly talks with faculty as an introduction to research in program labs and explore options for rotations and thesis work. Students may also attend talks by senior students in the program. 
  • Students complete at least 3 laboratory rotations to gain hands-on experience in a variety of approaches and methods, get to know faculty members and their laboratory groups, and gain information about the research area for their thesis.
  • Students apply for extramural fellowships and grants for which they are eligible (e.g., NSF GRFP, HHMI)
  • Students join a thesis lab at the end of the first year.
  • After joining a lab, students meet with their mentor to complete the Individual Development Plan (IDP), a roadmap to complete their degree and pursue their chosen career path.