Ph.D. Timeline Overview

First Year
During the first year of their Ph.D., all students take the Neuroscience Core Course. The goal of this course is to provide a common foundation so that all students have a strong knowledge base and a common language across the breadth of Neuroscience, which is a highly diverse and multidisciplinary field. To the extent possible, the course aims to teach an overview of all topics through a mix of hands-on laboratory experience, lecture, and computational modeling. Students will also rotate in up to three labs, participate in grant-writing workshops, and attend the Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference.
Second year
By the second year of their Ph.D., students will have joined a research group. Projects that involve collaborations across groups, and thus have students joining more than one research group, are decidedly welcomed. Students also typically teach half-time during their second year, as part of learning to teach and communicate science, and as a part of helping the Neuroscience Institute's educational mission. The other half of their time, students begin to carry out in-depth research and dedicate themselves wholly to this in the summer between their second and third years.
Third year
At the beginning of their third year, Ph.D. students present their thesis proposal at a generals exam, in which they demonstrate their command of their chosen research topic and the existing literature surrounding it, and present a logical plan to address key questions that they have identified.
The third, fourth and fifth years are largely devoted to research. They culminate with the submission of their research papers for publication, and the writing and defense of their Ph.D. thesis. Throughout their time at Princeton, students participate in grant-writing workshops, career workshops, and present their work both locally and in national and international conferences.

Recent Research Examples

Some examples of recently published work in which our students were the first authors are:
  1. The first patch-clamp recordings from grid cells of mice running in virtual mazes.
  2. Developing and testing detailed models of the dynamics of decision-making in rats and humans.
  3. Studies of the effects of changes in neural input-output gain on attention and learning.
  4. Developing methods to use real-world speech in combination with fMRI measures, which revealed critical links between speech production and comprehension systems.

QCN Track

Across the board, from molecular biology to physics to psychology, Princeton's world-class faculty is particularly strong in quantitative and theoretical investigations. The same is true in Neuroscience. In recognition of this, a Quantitative and Computational Neuroscience track exists within the Neuroscience Ph.D. Students in this track must fulfill all the requirements of the Neuroscience Ph.D. In addition, their electives should be in quantitative courses, and their Ph.D. research should be in quantitative and/or computational neuroscience.  The QCN track is supported by the T32 training grant in Quantitative Neuroscience from the NIMH.

Course listings

View a list of Neuroscience-related courses.