PhD Curriculum


Qualifying Examination Requirements


 The Neuroscience Qualifying Examination is administered in two parts that typically are taken in the second and third years of graduate study.  The first part examines the ability to think critically about several topics after a period of reading primary publications on different topics with several faculty members. The second part is an oral defense of a thesis proposal that will serve as the foundation for completing dissertation research. Theses formats are described in more detail below:


The student is strongly encouraged to take the first part of the qualifying exam by the end of the second year of graduate study.  This exam consists of a written portion (open-book), lasting one week, during which a student is asked to design experiments to test hypotheses posed and/or to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of an area of the scientific literature.  The student has had the opportunity to establish familiarity with this area by reading and discussing the reviews and primary literature with selected faculty members.

             For this written exam, each committee member provides a question to the program director or program administration, who will then assemble the exam and provide the entire exam to the student at one time.  The student then has 7 days to answer all questions and send each back to the individual faculty for comments (cc’ing the Program Director and/or Program Administrator with each answer).  Committee members, after reading the written responses to the Examination, will communicate any comments or concerns directly to the student, the student’s major advisor, and the program director.  Committee members are required to evaluate the written responses within three weeks of exam completion though an earlier response is highly encouraged


             For the second part of the Qualifying Examination, the student will submit a written thesis proposal to the Committee based on preliminary results obtained in the thesis laboratory.  The student is required to provide the written thesis proposal to all committee members no later than two weeks prior to the scheduled Oral Examination.   The student will then defend the thesis proposal in an Oral Examination.  This part of the Qualifying Examination is to be completed no later than the end of the sixth semester, though it may be taken earlier.


              When both Written and Oral parts of the Qualifying Examination have been judged by the student’s committee to have been completed successfully, the student will be considered to have passed the Qualifying Examination and will then be advanced to candidacy and proceed to complete his/her dissertation research project.


Doctoral Committee

The Doctoral Committee for each student shall consist of four or more graduate faculty members, with at least three that are members of the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and one outside member who is not in the Program, preferably from outside Rutgers University and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. 

The student’s Doctoral Committee shall be responsible for:

a.  The administration of the Qualifying Examination. 

b.  Supervision of the student’s thesis research. 

c.  Meeting at least annually to evaluate the student’s progress.  

d.  Approval of the student’s thesis. 

e.  Administration of a final thesis examination. 

f.   Recommending the student to the Graduate School for his/her degree. 


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