Neuroscience Graduate Curriculum

Program curriculum is flexible and coursework is completed during the first two years of the doctoral program to allow for maximum time spent working on research in the student's selected advisor's laboratory.

Students are accepted into the graduate program for admission during fall terms and typically arrive in Missoula during July and August. Those arriving early can take advantage of the beautiful Missoula summer and can carry out one or more laboratory rotations.

Courses start at the end of August each year, with general coursework and research rotations the focus in year one. Prior to selection of a research advisor, the Graduate Education Committee will advise first year students. At the end of the first year, students are expected to select an advisor in whose lab they will work to conduct independent research towards a dissertation throughout their tenure in the program. The Research Advisor serves as a mentor to the student and assists the student in assuring that all deadlines and procedures are followed.

Before the start of the third semester, students must select an advisory committee. Through discussion and mutual agreement, the student and research advisor select an area of interest and other faculty members to serve on the advisory committee. The advisory committee is comprised of a minimum of five members, at least four of who are full time faculty or adjuncts in the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP), and one from outside the NGP. The student is responsible for approaching these faculty members to request service on the Advisory Committee. After completing the Advisory Committee Form, the student submits the form to the Graduate Education Committee, who forwards it to the Associate Dean’s Office in the Division of Biological Sciences. Once approved, by the college, the form is submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies for the University of Montana for final approval. In addition to selection of the Advisory Committee, students must prepare a plan of study that includes all courses to be taken. The plan of study must subsequently be endorsed by the Advisory Committee. Any changes in the plan of study, once approved, require approval of the Advisor and, Advisory Committee.

At the beginning of the third year, students must complete the comprehensive qualifying exam. This exam includes both a written component, typically an NRSA-type format grant proposal, and an oral portion that evaluates the candidate’s general knowledge of the neuroscience discipline, and their ability to apply that knowledge in the research setting and in written and oral communication of research and scientific ideas. A process for selection of the written proposal topic is described in Program Policies.

A dissertation research proposal should be completed and endorsed by the Advisory Committee no later than the middle of the fifth semester in attendance. A research progress seminar should also be presented during the third year. Students will spend their remaining time in the program conducting research to assemble a written doctoral dissertation, completing the program with the doctoral dissertation defense.

Required Courses

  • BIOB/BCH 547: Intro to Research (Research Laboratory Rotations) (3 cr.)
  • BMED 667: Topics in Neurobiology (1 cr.)
  • BMED 594: Seminar (2 cr.)
  • BCH 600: Cell Organization and Mechanisms (3 cr.)
  • BMED 605: Biomedical Research Ethics (1 cr.)
  • BMED 609: Biomedical Statistics (3 cr.)
  • BMED 661: Neurosciences I (4 cr.)
  • BMED 662: Neurosciences II (4 cr.)
  • BIOB 597: Research (variable credits during research under chosen advisor) *
  • BIOB 599: Thesis (for graduating M.S. students)
  • BIOB 699: Dissertation (for graduating Ph.D. students)

Students without preparation in biochemistry must take BIOC 480/482 as a pre-requisite to BMED 600.

* A minimum of 20 credits is required by the Department for the Ph.D. degree.

A maximum of 30 credits may be applied toward the 60-credit requirement for the Ph.D.


Ph.D. students will take at least three of the following courses, according to research interest.

Neuroscience Courses

  • BMED 610: Neuropharmacology (3 cr.)
  • BMED 646: Neurotoxicology (3 cr.)
  • BMED 667: Topics in Neurobiology (3 cr.)

Other Elective Courses

  • BMED 582: Research Seminar (1 cr.)
  • BMED 615: Molecular Pharmacology (3 cr.)
  • BMED 621: Medicinal Chemistry (3 cr.)
  • BMED 626: Research Methods Biochem Pharmacololgy (1-3 cr.)
  • BMED 630: Pharmacogenetics (3 cr.)
  • BMED 635: Academic Development Seminar (2 cr.)
  • BMED 641: Toxicology I - Principles of Toxicology (4 cr.)
  • BMED 642: Toxicology II - Toxic Agents (4 cr.)
  • BMED 643: Cellular and Molecular Toxicology (4 cr.)
  • BMED 644: Immunotoxicology (3 cr.)
  • BMED 645: Respiratory Toxicology (3 cr.)
  • BMED 646: Neurotoxicology (3 cr.)
  • BMED 647: Topics in Toxicology (1-3 cr.)
  • BMED 657: Topics in Immunology (1-3 cr.)
  • BCH 581: Physical Biochemistry (3 cr.)
  • BCH 582: Proteins and Enzymes (3 cr.)
  • BIOC 586: Advanced Molecular Biology (3 cr.)

Additional Courses

Additional Courses are available through other departments. Use the Course Search, choosing term and subject.