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Program Guidelines

The Program Overview page contains an abbreviated version of these guidelines.

Faculty Mentor and Advisory Committee


At the end of the first year of the IGPBS program, students will mutually choose a mentor to oversee and direct their dissertation research. Students with a mentor who is associated with the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) will have the option to petition for admittance into the program. Students will automatically become a member of their mentor’s primary department.

Neuroscience Graduate Studies Advisory Committee

The Neuroscience Graduate Studies Advisory Committee (N-GSAC) is made up of faculty members associated with the NGP across different departmental homes and areas of expertise. Current members are:

The N-GSAC oversees all operations of the NGP, including curriculum changes and development, programmatic operation, appointment of students and faculty, and communication with the KU-Lawrence program. The Director of the N-GSAC meets with all NGP students upon admittance to the program, and bi-annually thereafter.

Research Advisory Committee

A Research Advisory Committee will be formed for each student at the beginning of their second year of study. Members will be chosen in collaboration with the Research Mentor and the Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Advisory Committee (N-GSAC). The objectives of the Research Advisory Committee are to:

  • Meet bi-annually with the student to discuss research and classroom progress.
  • Provide advice and guidance to the student in respect to their research project, laboratory activities, career development, and future directions.
  • Help prepare for and administer the Comprehensive Examination and the Dissertation Defense Examination. 

Composition of the Research Advisory Committee

The composition of the Research Advisory Committee must be approved by the Director of N-GSAC and include at least five faculty members that meet the following criteria:

  • 1 member of the N-GSAC;
  • The student’s mentor(s);
  • 1 faculty member with regular or dissertation graduate faculty status from a department/program outside of student’s mentor.

The composition of this Committee may change as necessary or advisable, with approval by the Director of the N-GSAC.

Grades and Enrollment

University and Office of Graduate Studies rules apply. Students must maintain a B (3.00) or better grade point average in their course work. See the University and Graduate Studies policy on grades for more information.

Students must take a minimum number of credit hours to remain in full-time active status. Typical enrollment is as follows:

  • Full-time enrollment prior tothe comprehensive examination, and up to 18 hours post-comprehensive examination:
    • Fall – 6 hours
    • Spring – 6 hours
    • Summer – 3 hours
  • After a student has completed 18 credit hours post-comprehensive exam (usually 4 semesters), they may apply to enroll in reduced hours. After approval to enroll in reduced hours, students must enroll in at least 1 credit hour per semester to remain in full-time active status.
  • Details on enrollment in courses specific to each semester can be found in the Timeline.
  • View the full description of the University enrollment policy.

Comprehensive Exam

Successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination leads to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.  The Comprehensive Examination is an Office of Graduate Studies requirement designed to assure that the student has attained the knowledge base and ability to plan and execute a dissertation research project. Upon passing the Comprehensive Exam, the student progresses to the position of Candidate for the Ph.D. Degree.

The completion of the Comprehensive Exam:

  • Provides the Research Mentor and Advisory Committee an opportunity to observe the student’s ability and potential, and to teach the thinking and writing skills needed to accomplish research goals.
  • Establishes the Mentor-Apprentice relationship.
  • Provides the student with the opportunity and obligation to apply concepts learned during the first years of graduate school to research-oriented problem-solving.

View the full details on administration of the Comprehensive Exam.

Written Component
The Written component of the Exam consists of an NIH-style grant proposal that is based on the student’s proposed dissertation research. The Written Exam is prepared with the guidance of the Research Mentor and must be PASSED before the Oral Exam takes place. 

Oral Component
The Oral Exam consists of a defense of the Written Exam. The Oral Exam will also test the breadth and depth of knowledge on subjects related to completed coursework and the area of research interest.

The Comprehensive Exam must be completed by December 31 in Year 3 of graduate study (Year 2 of the Graduate Phase for MD/PhD students). Failure to complete the Exam by this time could result in the Student being placed on Probationary Status, which could lead to dismissal from the program.

Dissertation Research and the Doctoral Dissertation

The final years of the graduate career will be devoted primarily to research conducted under the guidance of the Research Mentor and Research Advisory Committee. It is expected that this portion of training will take 2-3 years, such that the total time in the program will be approximately 5 years. If the total time since admission to the program exceeds five years, the Student may lose financial support. Total time in the program may not exceed 7 years unless there are extenuating circumstances.

University and Medical center regulations for the Dissertation and the Final Oral Examination will apply. A detailed outline of the department guidelines for the Doctoral Defense examination is given in the Guidelines for the Dissertation and Defense.

Rules and Regulations

Information can be found in the following sources:

  • University Academic Catalog contains general information, admission rules and procedures, description of degrees, University requirements for degrees, comprehensive oral exams, candidacy, dissertations, and final oral exams here. The major portion is a list of courses for every school and department.
  • The description of Degree Program in Neuroscience can be found in the University Academic Catalog.
KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
Neuroscience Graduate Program
3901 Rainbow Blvd MS3051
HLSIC 3051
Kansas City, KS 66160
(913) 588-7400