By the start of the second year, students will have chosen to concentrate in one of three areas: Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience; Cellular Neurophysiology; or Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience. This choice dictates which Great Experiments Course elective the student will take, and it also determines which Qualifying Exam the student will take.
Each concentration area will administer a Qualifying Exam in mid-September to rising 3rd years.
(MSTP students are required to take the Qualifying Exam at the end of their G1 year, i.e. their first year as a full time PhD student).
The Qualifying Exams will be entirely oral, with two parts: 1) Basic Knowledge and Concepts and 2) Research. Students will be graded Pass or No Pass. Students who receive a grade of No Pass will receive feedback on areas of weakness, and will be permitted to retake the exam in the fall quarter of their 3rd year. Those who fail to pass the exam a 2nd time will be dismissed from NUIN.
The Basic Knowledge/Concepts section of the Qualifying exam will test knowledge and concepts common to all well educated neuroscientists as well as knowledge and concepts related to each student’s chosen Concentration Area. The material will be drawn primarily from the Fundamentals 1st year course sequence, and the concentration area’s Great Experiments course. Broad study guidelines for each Concentration Area will be made available.
The Research section of the Qualifying exam will be a chalk talk (i.e., no slides, etc.) in which each student presents and answers questions about the research they have conducted in their thesis laboratory, including the Rationale, Approach, Results, Interpretation, and Significance, regardless of the outcome(s) of the experiments. Preliminary data will not be required. In many cases, the project presented will develop into a thesis project, but this is not a requirement.