Neuroscience Graduate Programs in California

Jun 07, 2019

You can choose from several universities in California that offer neuroscience graduate programs. This overview will cover five doctoral programs located within the state.

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As a neuroscience graduate student, you will learn how the nervous system operates through training in areas such as anatomy and biology. Take a look at the training and lengths for the five highlighted PhD programs in California.

School Comparison

Tuition rates for these California schools range from under $14,000 for in-state residents to over $50,000.

Institution Location Average Graduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA $45,561
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA $52,233
University of California - Davis Davis, CA $13,570 (in-state) / $28,672 (out-of-state)
University of California - Irvine Irvine, CA $13,344 (in-state) / $28,446 (out-of-state)
Stanford University Stanford, CA $51,354

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

Overview of California Neuroscience Graduate Programs

University of Southern California

You will receive a personalized education plan in this PhD program at the University of Southern California. The first year of study focuses on training in cognitive and biological processes, while further study is based on your interests. Coursework includes neuroanatomy and make-up of the brain. You typically complete a fellowship during your study, with opportunities ranging from the Department of Defense to the American Heart Association. The program application process includes GRE/GMAT scores from the last five years, a resume, and recommendation letters.

California Institute of Technology

You can choose from four options in the PhD program at California Institute of Technology: neurobiology, computational and neural systems, biology, and social and decision neuroscience. Program requirements and lengths will vary. As an example, the neurobiology track requires 54 credits, with courses in areas such as circular systems and biology. The program also requires students to complete three semesters as a teaching assistant. Accepted students usually have GRE scores in the 90% percentile or higher, along with an undergraduate GPA in the top 5% of their class. You will need to submit an online application.

University of California - Davis

The PhD program at the University of California - Davis has three designated emphases you can choose from: biophotonics and bioimaging, biotechnology, and stem and progenitor cells. Each emphasis has different requirements, such as a three to six-month internship for the biotechnology emphasis. In general, the first two years of study involve coursework and serving as a teaching assistant. You must then pass both a preliminary and qualifying test before moving on to the candidacy portion of your training. To apply, you will need to supply three recommendation letters, transcripts, and GRE scores.

University of California - Irvine

The PhD program at the University of California - Irvine usually takes four to six years to complete. Students will take required classes such as behavioral neuroscience in the first year. Graduation requirements include maintaining an overall GPA of 3.3, participating in a student research presentation series, and conducting a neurobiology lab for two semesters. The admissions process includes an online application, official transcripts, GRE scores, and three recommendation letters.

Stanford University

You must earn 135 quarter-credits to graduate with a PhD from Stanford University, with most students earning their degree in 5 years. Required classes include anatomy, neurogenetics, and cognitive. You will need a B in all required classes, along with passing a qualifying test and an oral thesis defense. The program requires a bachelor's degree for acceptance.

California PhD programs in neuroscience usually take at least four years to complete. Some programs offer specialization areas like biotechnology.

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