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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Neurosciences

The multidisciplinary Graduate Program in Neurosciences at the University of Kansas offers students broadly-based training in neuroscience and advanced training in their specialized area.

Apply for Ph.D. in Neurosciences

Ph.D. Program Overview

  • The KU neuroscience program is a degree-granting program. Students are admitted directly into the program.
  • The program is coordinated by the Lawrence campus of the university (KU) - with strengths in the behavioral, biological, chemical and pharmaceutical sciences - and the Medical Center campus in Kansas City (KUMC) - with strengths in all the biomedical and clinical sciences.
  • Students are asked to indicate the campus on which they would like to be considered for admission.
  • Students can look forward to personal development in an atmosphere that fosters strong collaborative activities as well as independent scholarship.
  • The program appeals to students who want to teach and/or do research in a university or do research in a pharmaceutical/ biotechnology company or government laboratory.
  • Students who are interested in this field wish to work out individual programs spanning a great breadth from molecular and cellular neurobiology to organism-based neurophysiology, behavioral neurobiology and cognitive neuroscience.

Standard KU Graduate Admission Requirements

For the Ph.D. degree in neurosciences, the student must complete the core curriculum as well as meet all requirements for KU Graduate Admissions, including residence, research skills training, comprehensive oral examination, preparation of a dissertation, and final oral examination and defense of the dissertation.


All students are expected to be able to understand the fundamental principles and contributions of each of the major disciplines that form the core of neurosciences.

Previous Degree Requirement

B.S. or M.S. degree in anthropology, behavioral sciences (psychology, human development), biology, chemistry, engineering, neuroscience or pharmacology.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. 

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Scores

GRE scores should be sent directly to the University of Kansas and to Graduate Study in Neurosciences (codes: KU-6871, Neurosciences - 0213).

English Proficiency Requirements

Non-native English speakers must demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing and listening via English Proficiency Scores from the TOEFL, IELTS or PTE test. See KU's English Proficiency Requirements for detailed information, including minimum score requirements. Request that the testing agency send your official scores directly to KU (codes: KU-6871, Pharmacy-47).

Time to Complete

The program typically takes five years to complete. Required core graduate courses for students who meet standard requirements can be completed within the first two years of study. Students attend year-round with time off for holidays and vacations.


The neuroscience courses are subdivided into core courses that all students must complete and elective courses. In addition to the core and elective coursework, students are required to complete a research skill. Since the neuroscience program has faculty at KU-Lawrence and the KU Medical Center, the core curriculums are approached slightly different.

See Coursework for complete details on coursework, including common curriculum for KU and KUMC programs, as well as the research skill requirement.

Research Skill

In addition to the core and elective coursework, students are required to complete a research skill.

Common research skill areas include:

Areas of Specialization

  • Molecular Neurobiology
  • Cellular Neurobiology
  • Neurochemistry
  • Neuropharmacology or Neurotoxicology
  • Developmental Neurobiology
  • Behavioral Neurobiology/Physiological Psychology
  • Behavioral Pharmacology
  • Sensory Physiology and Neurobiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Comprehensive Oral Examination

At the end of the first two years, students take the comprehensive oral examination. Upon completion of the comprehensive oral examination, the student becomes a doctoral candidate and completes their research and writing of their doctoral dissertation.

See Doctoral Candidacy and Dissertation Defense for complete details on the comprehensive oral examination and doctoral dissertation

Doctoral Dissertation

See Doctoral Candidacy and Dissertation Defense for complete details on the doctoral candidacy and dissertation defense.


A unifying component of the KU neuroscience program is the bi-monthly Neuroscience Seminar, which is video conferenced between the KU-Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses. Internal and outside speakers are invited to participate, and neuroscience students present annual seminars during their graduate career.

Financial Support

See Financial Support for information about financial assistance opportunities for students in the KU Neuroscience Graduate Program.


The University of Kansas
Neuroscience Graduate Program

Program Director:  Rick Dobrowsky
Contact: Patti Steffan:

The University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC)
Neuroscience Graduate Program

Program Director: Julie A. Carlsten Christianson
Program Website: KUMC Neuroscience Graduate Program
Contact: Julie A. Carlsten Christianson:

KU Graduate Admissions