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Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program

Work is offered for the master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees with a major in neuroscience. Cooperating departments include Animal Science; Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology; Biomedical Sciences; Chemical and Biological Engineering; Chemistry; Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology; Food Science and Human Nutrition; Genetics, Development and Cell Biology; Kinesiology; Psychology; Veterinary Clinical Sciences; and Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine.

The diversity of faculty in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience major provides students with a variety of research opportunities and reflects the structure of contemporary neuroscience which has become a diverse and inter-disciplinary field. Facilities and faculty are committed to research in the following areas: neuronal membrane functions, signal transduction, neuroanatomy, neurodegenerative diseases, neuroendocrinology, neurotoxicology, neuropathology, developmental neurobiology, neurogenetics, computational neuroscience, neural networks, behavioral neuroscience, tissue engineering, neuroregeneration and brain repair. Additional information about program faculty members is available at:

An undergraduate or advanced degree in one of the basic or applied sciences is ordinarily a prerequisite for admission to the program. Typical program disciplines include majors in biochemistry, biology, biomedical sciences, human medicine, immunology, neurobiology, physiology, pharmacology, psychology, veterinary medicine, or zoology. Appropriate undergraduate coursework includes mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biological sciences. Prior research experience is highly encouraged. The submission of GRE General Test scores is required for admission.

Prospective students are admitted by the Neuroscience program following an internal application process and after review by the Neuroscience Admissions Committee. Students are admitted either to participate in research rotations with several faculty before deciding on a major professor and laboratory, or by direct admission into a specific lab and department. Ph.D. students typically enter via rotation and M.S students typically enter via a direct admit. Those students entering through a rotation admit are required to complete a minimum of three research lab rotations with faculty of interest. At the end of their second semester students on rotation must select a major professor from the faculty participating in the program.

Curriculum Requirements for Neuroscience Graduate Students

Ph.D. candidates majoring in Neuroscience must take at least 72 graduate credits.  These 72 credits includes the below core course requirements and applicable research credits earned.  Credits taken during a student's M.S. program in Neuroscience at Iowa State University will count towards their Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

Students seeking an M.S. degree must take a total of 30 credits, with not less than 22 credits earned at ISU. M.S. students have the same core requirements as Ph.D. students.

Additional coursework for both Ph.D. and M.S. degrees is selected by the student in consultation with his/her POS Committee to meet departmental requirements and to satisfactorily prepare the student for their research project.

Graduate credits of B or better earned at another institution may be transferred at the discretion of the POS Committee and with the approval of the Neuroscience Program and the ISU Graduate College.

Additional information relating to credits required for graduate degrees can be found in the ISU Graduate College Handbook.

All students majoring in Neuroscience are required to complete a core curriculum consisting of:

NEURO 556Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience3
NEURO 557Advanced Neuroscience Techniques3
NEURO 661Current Topics in Neuroscience Repeatable2-3
NEURO 690Journal Club in Neuroscience Taken every fall & spring1
NEURO 696Neuroscience Seminar Taken every fall & spring1
NEURO 699Researcharr †
BBMB 404Biochemistry I3
B M S 537Neuroanatomy3
STAT 587Statistical Methods for Research Workers4
MANDATORY ETHICS TRAINING: All Neuroscience students are also required to complete 1 credit hour of ethics training.1
† Arranged with instructor.

In addition to the above coursework, all Neuroscience majors are expected to take a minimum of six credits of approved elective neuroscience courses.  Pre-approved courses include:

A ECL 551Behavioral Ecology3
AN S 670Molecular Biology of Muscle3
BIOL 354Animal Behavior3
BIOL 436Neurobiology3
B M S 354General Pharmacology3
KIN 572Neural Basis of Human Movement3
PSYCH 410Behavioral Neurology3
PSYCH 519Cognitive Neuropsychology3
PSYCH 598CSeminar in Cognitive Psychology: Cognitive Neurosciencearr †
† Arranged with instructor.

Curriculum Requirements for Graduate Students Seeking a Neuroscience Minor

Graduate students interested in completing a Neuroscience minor are required to select 12 credits, with a minimum of 9 credits being from the list of approved courses (see below) and up to 3 credits of thesis/dissertation research (NEURO 699).

Students must be approved for the minor by the Neuroscience Program and must follow Graduate College guidelines for POS Committee membership.

Graduate students wishing to seek a minor in Neuroscience are encouraged to contact the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Graduate Program Coordinator for further information. Inquiries can be submitted to 

Approved Neuroscience Minor Courses

NEURO 556Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience3
NEURO 557Advanced Neuroscience Techniques3
NEURO 661Current Topics in Neuroscience2-3
B M S 537Neuroanatomy3
COM S 474Introduction to Machine Learning3
KIN 572Neural Basis of Human Movement3
PSYCH 410Behavioral Neurology3
PSYCH 519Cognitive Neuropsychology3
NEURO 699Research (Up to 3 credits)arr †
† Arranged with instructor.

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Courses primarily for graduate students, open to qualified undergraduates:

(Cross-listed with B M S, GDCB). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. F., offered odd-numbered years.

Prereq: BIOL 335 or BIOL 436; physics recommended
Fundamental principles of neuroscience including cellular and molecular neuroscience, nervous system development, sensory, motor and regulatory systems.

(Cross-listed with GDCB). (3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered odd-numbered years.

Prereq: NEURO 556 or equivalent course
Research methods and techniques; lectures, laboratory exercises and/or demonstrations representing individual faculty specialties.

Courses for graduate students:

(Cross-listed with BBMB, GDCB). (2-0) Cr. 2-3. Repeatable. Alt. S., offered even-numbered years.

Prereq: NEURO 556 (or comparable course) or permission of instructor
Topics may include molecular and cellular neuroscience, neurodevelopment, neuroplasticity, neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive neuroscience, sensory biology, neural integration, membrane biophysics, neuroethology, techniques in neurobiology and behavior.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.

Prereq: NEURO 556
Students are required to attend and make at least one presentation at a weekly journal club focusing on current topics.

(1-0) Cr. 1. Repeatable. F.S.

Prereq: NEURO 556
Presentations and discussion of research by students, faculty, and visiting scholars.

Cr. arr. Repeatable.