Neuroscience (PhD)

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Degree Offered: PhD
Program Leadership:
Samuel Pleasure, MD, PhD, Program Director
Admissions Inquiries:
Neuroscience Graduate Program,

Program Description

The Neuroscience PhD program prepares students for independent research and teaching in neuroscience. It seeks to train students who will be expert in one particular approach to neuroscientific research, but who will also have a strong general background in other areas of neuroscience and related disciplines. To achieve this objective, students take interdisciplinary core and advanced courses in neuroscience, as well as related courses sponsored by other graduate programs. In addition, students carry out research under the supervision of faculty members in the program.

The UCSF Neuroscience program faculty, who are among the world leaders in their respective areas of neuroscience, utilize innovative cellular, computational, electrophysiological, genetic, imaging, and molecular strategies to address outstanding problems in neuroscience. These approaches are employed in an integrative manner to engage in research in all areas of neuroscience, including behavior, biophysics, cell biology, development, neural systems, and disorders of the nervous system. The collaborative nature of the UCSF environment offers a unique opportunity in which to take advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of research at the frontier of modern neuroscience.

The UCSF Neuroscience Program is committed to a diverse and inclusive graduate student population, which enhances the educational experience, the workplace, and the nature of scientific research.


The Neuroscience program currently has 100 faculty members from the following departments and areas: Anatomy, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Bioengineering, the Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Center, Cell and Tissue Biology, CMP, CVRI, the Diabetes Center, IND, Gladstone Institutes, Neurological Surgery, Neurology, the Neuroscience Imaging Center, Ophthalmology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Pediatrics-Medical Genetics, Pediatrics-Neonatology, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Physical Therapy, Physiology, and Psychiatry.

The Neuroscience program is a member of the Program in Biological Sciences (PIBS).


  • Addiction Research
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cell and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Nervous System Disease
  • Synaptic Physiology
  • Systems Neuroscience
  • Theoretical/Computational Neuroscience

The Neuroscience program is based primarily at Mission Bay, but also has faculty at Parnassus, the UCSF affiliated Veterans Administration Medical Center, and San Francisco General Hospital. Visit the program website for more information.

The Neuroscience program is offered by the UCSF Graduate Division, administered by the UCSF School of Medicine, and delivered by faculty members in the UCSF schools of dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy.

Admission Requirements

  • Undergraduate courses in biology, physics, inorganic and organic chemistry, and calculus.
  • Prior research experience (undergraduate thesis projects, internships, technician positions, summer research programs, etc.)

Learning Outcomes

  1. General knowledge and understanding of modern neuroscience.
  2. Theoretical understanding of a broad range of modern neuroscientific techniques.
  3. Ability to read, critically assess, and review contemporary scientific literature.
  4. Ability to identify outstanding questions in the field, and to design experiments that are ethical and viable to advance the field.
  5. Practical expertise in techniques relevant to a subfield of neuroscientific research.
  6. Capacity to produce high-quality grant proposals and scientific papers.
  7. Clear communication of scientific research to both scientific and non-scientific audiences.
  8. Conceptualization of the importance of mentorship, the variety of needs that accompany students of different backgrounds, and demonstration of mentorship ability.

Additional Information

Program Core Faculty

Career Outcomes