Understanding how the brain works and how it gives rise to mental function is one of the most exciting challenges in science.

This effort is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing upon developments in cellular and molecular biology, genetic engineering, and psychology, and leveraging methods from chemistry, engineering, mathematics, and physics to better measure and understand neural function.

To help prepare the next generation of neuroscientists for these challenges, Princeton offers an interdisciplinary program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in:

  • molecular biology and neuroscience
  • chemistry and neuroscience
  • engineering and neuroscience
  • applied and computational mathematics and neuroscience
  • philosophy and neuroscience
  • physics and neuroscience
  • psychology and neuroscience
  • computer science and neuroscience, or
  • electrical engineering and neuroscience.

The program encourages the serious study of molecular, cellular, developmental and systems neuroscience as it interfaces with cognitive and behavioral research. Current examples at Princeton include:

  • molecular, genetic and pharmacologic analysis of learning and memory
  • the role of neural stem cells in the adult brain
  • viral infections of the nervous system
  • optical and electrical recordings of neuronal function
  • brain imaging studies of cognitive functions such as attention and memory in humans
  • mathematical and computational analysis of neural network function


Candidates should apply to one of the cooperating home departments:

  • Chemistry
  • Ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Departments in the School of Engineering
  • Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics

The candidate should fulfill the admission requirements of the chosen department.

Plan of Study

Upon entering the program, students select an advisor who is normally a member of the student’s home department and also an affiliate of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Students must satisfy the normal pre-general examination requirements and pass the general examination of their respective home departments. In addition to meeting their home department’s Ph.D. requirements, students in the Joint Graduate Degree Program in Neuroscience must meet all of the following requirements:

  • at least one member of the student’s thesis committee must be a core faculty member of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute
  • the student’s Ph.D. thesis research should have a significant neuroscience component
  • and the student must take two of the following four courses: NEU 501A (Fall), NEU 501B (Fall), NEU 502A (Spring), or NEU 502B (Spring).

Additionally, all students in the joint program are expected to participate in the neuroscience seminar (NEU 511), which meets several times per semester.

Interested students should submit the PNI Joint Degree Program Application form. Student’s will be notified via email when their application is approved. Students may officially register as members of the Joint Graduate Degree Program in Neuroscience after passing their generals exam.

Financial Assistance

Fellowship awards and assistantship appointments are made by the University after recommendation by the cooperating departments and with the concurrence of the committee.