For information about applying to graduate school in Neuroscience at Yale University please visit the Biological and Biomedical Sciences website.
The Department of Neuroscience (formerly Neurobiology) at Yale University School of Medicine focuses on research in integrative aspects of the central nervous system, crossing levels from molecular/cellular through cognitive neuroscience.
The basic philosophy of the Department of Neuroscience has been to pursue an integrated structural, functional and molecular approach to molecular/cellular and systems neuroscience, exploiting the most advanced technologies to accomplish this goal. The study of the functional properties of the neocortex and its components, as well as its development, serves as a central and unifying theme within the department. We believe that successful neurobiologists in the 21st century will be using a multi-disciplinary approach to address the fundamental issues of human mental capabilities as well as the compelling problems of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
The faculty in the Department of Neuroscience includes primary appointments in Neuroscience and secondary appointments with primary appointments in other departments (Cell Biology, Child Studies, Comparative Medicine, Molecular Biophysics, Neurology, Neurosurgery, OB/Gyn, Ophthalmology, Physiology, Psychiatry, Surgery). The research interests encompassed by members of the Department span neuroscience and are described in detail on the Faculty's individual web pages.
The graduate program in Neuroscience is part of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS) at Yale. Together the Neuroscience Graduate Program and the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program form the Neuroscience Track of the BBS, to which students are admitted in their first year. The Neuroscience track serves to unify Neuroscience training and provide flexibility. M.D./Ph.D. students may also choose to perform their Ph.D. training within the Neuroscience Graduate Program.
The Department of Neuroscience believes strongly in individualized attention to each graduate student and therefore the number of students per laboratory is kept relatively small, on the order of between one and four. Graduates from the Department of Neuroscience have gone on to assume faculty positions at such places as the University of North Carolina, the University of California at Los Angeles, NYU, the University of Minnesota, SUNY Upstate, and Yale University.
The pre-doctoral program includes course work in neuroanatomy, cell biology, developmental neurobiology, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, neuropsychology and molecular neurobiology. Predoctoral training is tailored to individual needs and includes a major research component supplemented by informal seminars, workshops and laboratory meetings.
During the first two years of the program, each student is expected to complete 6 to 8 courses. These are selected from a variety of courses offered by departments throughout the University. Because competence in contemporary neuroscience demands in-depth knowledge of neurobiology, three courses are required in addition to a course on ethics of neuroscience research: a general course in Neurobiology, an advanced level neuroscience course offered by the Department of Neuroscience covering the structure and function of the human nervous system, and a reading/discussion group covering the classic literature in Neuroscience. Graduate students are also required to be teaching assistants for two semesters. Beyond the required courses, the training program is individually designed to meet the interests and needs of each student. Faculty actively participate in the design of each student's program and are always available for consultation and discussion.
To acquaint students with research methods and to provide opportunities to interact with faculty in a research environment, laboratory rotations are undertaken during the first year. These rotations also serve to introduce a student to a laboratory which he/she might choose for thesis research. Rotations are arranged in consultation with the faculty and provide laboratory experiences for 3 to 4 month periods. The number of rotations varies depending on the experience and needs of each student; in general, 1-2 different rotations outside of the laboratory chosen for the thesis project are usually undertaken.
A qualifying exam is given at the end of the second year of study. The exam is designed to provide an opportunity for the student to study in depth four topics in contemporary neuroscience of his/her own choosing. Its design permits the student to learn to gain information from reading the current literature and from discussions of the literature with the faculty.
Research experience is the core of the graduate program in Neuroscience and experiments performed under the supervision of one of the faculty leads to the writing of a thesis and a thesis defense. Usually, separate chapters of the thesis provide the core for papers that are published in international, refereed journals. Thus, by the end of their graduate studies students have passed through training that spans the full cycle of research from planning of experiments to the published product.