PhD Program

Lakeisha Lewter, PhD ’19, right, did not have a pharmacology background when she joined the lab of Jun-Xu Li, MD, PhD, through the Neuroscience PhD program, but says he taught her pharmacological terms, methods and concepts through personalized feedback and attention.

Requirements and Curriculum

If you are interested in the Neuroscience PhD program, you should apply directly to the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences (PPBS), where you will participate in a core curriculum in the first semester. Beginning in your second semester, you would have the option to take neuroscience courses as electives and select your thesis adviser and research topic. 

The PhD requires 72 credits, including at least 20 credits of didactic courses and the remainder composed of a mix of didactic and research credits. Most of the didactic course requirements can be completed in the first year. You must receive a grade of B or higher on all required courses, with an overall GPA above 3.0.

The neuroscience program has a set of required courses (NRS 520, 524, 601, and 602 and PMY 516). In addition, you can select from a variety of elective courses upon consultation with your mentor.

Semester 1 (PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences)

  • BMS 509 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 510 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 514LEC Introduction to Scientific Investigation and Responsible Conduct, 2 credits
  • BMS 515LEC Fundamentals of Biomedical Research I, 4 credits
  • BMS 516LEC Fundamentals of Biomedical Research II, 3 credits

Semester 2 (PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences)

  • BMS 509 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 510 PhD Program Laboratory Rotation, 4 credits
  • BMS 511 Fundamentals in Biomedical Sciences - Critiquing Scientific Literature, 1 credit
  • NRS 520 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, 4 credits


  • PMY 516, Molecular Neuropsychopharmacology, 3 credits

Selection of Thesis Advisor

Summer Laboratory Rotations (Optional)

Semester 3

  • NRS 524 Quantitative Neuroanatomy, 4 credits
  • NRS 601 Research Seminar Evaluations, 1 credit
  • Thesis Research, 9 credits*

Semester 4

  • NRS 602, Seminars in Neuroscience, 1 credit
  • Thesis Research, 12 credits*

Then, depending on what you took during Semester 2,

  • PMY 516, Molecular Neuropsychopharmacology, 3 credits


  • NRS 520, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, 4 credits

Summer after Semester 4 — At the end of the second year you will prepare for the preliminary examination, which is a the submission of a modified grant proposal.  On successful completion of all required courses and the preliminary examination, you can apply to candidacy. At that time you will select a thesis committee that consists of a mentor and three other faculty.

Semesters 5-8

*You should register for research credit under your home department's course number in your mentor's section. Some examples are PMY 751/752, BCH 701/702, and NEU 600. If your home department does not have such a course, the default is NRS 600. Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator or your department administrator with any questions. 

Suggested Electives

  • BIO 506, Signal Transduction, 3 credits
  • BIO 517, Neurobiology, 3 credits
  • PGY 555, Neuroimmunology, 3 credits
  • PSY 513, Biological Bases of Behavior, 3 credits
  • PSY 744, Biological Rhythms in Behavior, 3 credits

This is not an exhaustive list. Please consult with your mentor or the Director of Graduate Studies to help you choose the right courses.

Mentoring and Guidance

After the second year, you and your research mentor will meet for an annual academic review with the neuroscience program director. Additionally, you and your mentor will also meet with your Thesis Committee on a regular basis, approximately every 6-12 months.

For more info please view the Graduate School Policy Library that contains information relating to: admissions, registration, grading, student records, degree requirements, and academic integrity.

Financial Assistance

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences provides PhD students with a tuition scholarship, a stipend, and medical/dental insurance.

Students may also apply for NIH, AMA, or any other research grants.

How to Apply

Prospective PhD Students must apply via the PhD Program in Biomedical Sciences.

International Students

Please visit the International Student Services website if you have any questions regarding immigration status.

If you do not have access to the technology to be able to upload a copy of your transcripts or any additional application materials on your application, please send them to: 

Neuroscience Program
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
955 Main Street, Suite 3102
Buffalo, NY 14203