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MUSC Bulletin | College of Graduate Studies

Department of Neurosciences

Section Contents
Research Facilities Admissions | Program GuidelinesFaculty Research Interests | Course Descriptions

Programs of Study
The Department offers programs of graduate study leading to either the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Applications are accepted from students with a variety of backgrounds in biological, chemical, and physical sciences.

The Ph.D. program is designed to give the student a comprehensive knowledge of the field of neuroscience, while providing for the development of research skills and creative thinking in a more limited area of the disciplines. In order to achieve this goal, students select an area of neuroscience in which research and the preparation of a dissertation will be accomplished. Doctoral research projects, while correlated with ongoing activities in the department, are original in nature and constitute a significant achievement. The Department also participates in the Medical Scientist Training Program in which the student earns both the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. While emphasis is placed on the doctoral degree, an M.S. degree is offered on a limited basis.

Research Facilities
This department is housed in modern research and teaching facilities occupying over 15,000 sq.ft. of laboratory space. Each member of the faculty occupies a research laboratory well equipped for the particular area of investigation. Specialized equipment and facilities available within the department include numerous microprocessors, beta and gamma counters, a tissue culture facility, a neurohistology laboratory, confocal and multiphoton microscopy, quantitative imaging facility, electrophysiology laboratories, and equipment for circuitry and behavioral analysis.

Each applicant is considered on an individual basis, with emphasis placed on high academic performance in a solid major. A strong background in the biological and physical sciences is recommended, and previous research experience is highly desirable. Applications are not made directly to the department but instead must be made to the College of Graduate Studies. Admission information can be obtained by visiting the College of Graduate Studies web page (; or A college wide admissions committee, which consists of a representative from each of the basic science departments, reviews all applications. It is important to note that this committee will not review applications until all application material has been received.

Program Guidelines
Doctor of Philosophy
During their first semester, Ph.D. students are expected to participate in the first year biomedical sciences core curriculum of the graduate school. After the first semester, students who choose to pursue graduate study in the Department of Neurosciences will enroll in NSCS 730 - Fundamentals of Neuroscience. At the end of the first year, sudents will will select the laboratory in which research and preparation of the dissertation will be accomplished. To aid in this, the student will attend a weekly department seminar and journal club in which concepts and methodology involved in neurosciences are presented. In addition, students will participate in up to four eight-week lab rotations as part of the core curriculum before selecting an advisor.

During the fall semester of the second year, neuroscience track students take NSCS 735 - Clinical/Systems Neuroscience. Students are also required to take four elective courses prior to being admitted to candidacy. The department offers several half-semester elective courses each spring. Students may also elect to take other courses in physiology, neuroscience and cell and molecular biology, to provide additional breadth of knowledge, as well as specialized, in-depth learning experiences in areas pertinent to their research program. Once each year, all students are required to present a seminar dealing with the dissertation research or other topic.

Additional information on the PhD program can be found at:

While the graduate program is primarily oriented toward obtaining a PhD degree, a program of study leading to a Master's Degree is offered on a more limited basis. This program can be completed within two years, and consists of successful completion of selected coursework and an original research program. While the graduate school does not provide stipend support for MS students, support is sometimes available from research grants awarded to departmental faculty. 

Faculty Research Interests
Faculty research interests can be found on the web at

Physiology and Neuroscience Course Descriptions
In addition to participation in the common curriculum course that all first year Ph.D. students are required to take, the department offers several advanced courses that are described below. Additional information can be found at:

NSCS-730. Fundamentals of Neuroscience
This course is the first component of the introductory graduate sequence designed to provide an overview of the fundamental concepts in the field of neuroscience. This course covers the anatomy of the nervous system, the electrical properties of neurons, synaptic transmission, as well as an overview of sensory and motor systems. The class is primarily taught in lecture format but also includes a human brain dissection laboratory. A background in basic biology or permission of the instructor is required. 8 s.h. Spring.

NSCS-735. Clinical/Systems Neuroscience
This course is the second component of the introductory graduate sequence designed to provide an overview of the fundamental concepts in the field of neuroscience. Building upon the anatomy and physiology covered in Fundamentals of Neuroscience, this course covers the development and plasticity of the nervous system, higher brain functions such as memory and language, and clinical neuroscience. The class is taught in lecture format. A background in basic biology or permission of the instructor is required. 5 s.h. Fall.

PHYSO-774. Advanced Topics in Neuroscience. Physiology/Neuroscience faculty mentor selected students in a research experience. Topics are those of current interest in the discipline. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Variable s.h.

NSCS-780. Seminar/Journal Club. All students in the Neuroscience graduate program will participate in this course, which involves seminars by invited outside speakers, MUSC faculty, postdoctoral fellows, as well as students. 2 s.h.

NSCS-970. Research. Variable s.h. All.

PHYSO-980. Thesis. Variable s.h. All.

NSCS-990. Dissertation. Variable s.h. All.

Last Published with Edits:December 9, 2013 3:35 PM
Last Comprehensive Review: Fall 2012

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