PHD Program

Rotations allow first-year students to learn new techniques and find the right fit

Graduate studies in the MCIN Program provide students with the knowledge about interdisciplinary neurosciences, as well as the communication skills and technical expertise to serve as the foundation for the doctoral students to become an independent investigator in academia, biotechnology or the pharmaceutical industries.

Application Deadline For Admission in Fall 2024: December 1st, 2023

Apply to the Program

Applications should be submitted online via the Graduate School, which can be accessed at this link. GRE scores are not required for full consideration.

Questions should be directed to:
Jane Thompson
Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Neurosciences Program
Special Academic Unit
Colorado State University
1680 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1617

About the Program

This interdisciplinary graduate research and education program, established in 1986, has 38 faculty participants. The international reputation of the faculty members and their ability to attract strong extramural support has resulted in the program being designated as one of Colorado State University’s centers of Research and Scholarly Excellence. Faculty research interests are focused in cellular, molecular and integrative neurobiology, with emphasis in areas related to neuronal differentiation, degeneration and regeneration, ion channels and membrane physiology, synaptic mechanisms, neuronal circuitry and chronobiology, sensory biology, artificial neural networks, cognitive neuroscience and neurovirology. Students interested in the cellular and molecular aspects of nervous system function and systems neuroscience are encouraged to apply.

Deadline to apply for Fall 2024: December 1, 2023. Application must be done via the Graduate School and can be accessed at this link.

Participating Departments

Students can apply and be admitted directly to the program, or they can be admitted into one of the participating departments (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Chemical & Biological Engineering, Computer Science, Environmental & Radiological Health Sciences, Health and Exercise Science, Human Development and Family Studies, Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Occupational Therapy, or Psychology) and participate in program activities. Students admitted directly into the Program participate in laboratory rotations and may select from the laboratories of all participating faculty, regardless of their departmental affiliation, provided that the degree-offering department approves of the research topic for the Ph.D. In some instances where the degree-granting department is not the home department of the research advisor, assignment of a co-advisor from the home department will be necessary. The co-advisor will serve as a member of the student advisory committee.

At the end of the first year in residence, each student must select an advisor and the department through which he or she will work toward the Ph.D. degree. No formal degree is offered through the Program, but a transcript endorsement indicating the student has successfully completed the requirements of the interdisciplinary Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences Program will become part of the student’s official record.

Graduate Student Guidelines

Learn about the Graduate School and courses offered at Colorado State University (Graduate and Professional Bulletin and the General Catalog)

Learn about the entrance requirements, general requirements, procedures and expectations for a doctoral student enrolling in MCIN and earning his or her degree at CSU.

1st Year Core Curriculum for Neuroscience Graduate Students

The first-year curriculum is tailored to each student depending on their background and goals.  An example 1st year curriculum is shown below. An integrated first year core curriculum provides essential material in a format that allows time for laboratory rotations. Laboratory rotations provide exposure to essential techniques and a range of research questions. Journal clubs allow students to discuss primary literature and provide opportunities to present research articles to their peers in a relaxed environment.

NB501/BMS500Mammalian Physiology (Neurology)2
STAT511aDesign and Data Analysis (or equivalent)4
NB 796bNeurobiology of Disease2
NB 793Neuroscience Seminar Discussion1
NB 796CJournal Club: Topics in Neuroscience1
NB 795VIndependent Study (Laboratory Rotation)Var.
NB500Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology Readings1 (every other fall)
NB Electives
BC 563Molecular Genetics4
Total Credits15
NB505Neuronal Circuits, Systems & Behavior3
NB503*Developmental Neurobiology3
BMS 545*Functional Neuroanatomy4
PSY 600b*Cognitive Neuroscience3
NB 793Neuroscience Seminars Discussion1
NB 795VIndependent Study (Laboratory Rotation)Var.
NB 796DJournal Club: Topics in Neuroscience1
NB 586Practicum-Techniques in Neuroscience1
Total Credits15
Other Core Classes to consider for second year in the program:
GRAD 544Ethical Conduct of Research (Fall)
BIOM 750Writing, Submitting and Reviewing Grants (Fall)
GRAD 550STEM Communications
*Students can choose one or two options: NB 503 – Developmental Neurobiology; BMS 545 – Functional Neuroanatomy; or PSY 600b – Cognitive Neuroscience.
The above is the generally recommended course of study. The Admissions and Academics Committee may recommend substitutions depending on a student’s background and goals.
The recommended course of study will satisfy the majority of requirements for a PhD in Biomedical Sciences, Cellular & Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. Psychology PhD requirements vary by area. Consult each Program for full requirements.


Students accepted into the Ph.D. program receive assistantships, usually for the duration of their graduate studies. Students accepted directly into the program are supported at the NIH pre-doctoral rate. Departmental stipends may vary from this amount. Tuition costs for domestic students are paid by the program or from faculty research grants that support the student. Students are responsible for fees. These fees cover the student center, student health service, student recreation center, student activities, athletics, the stadium, the auditorium-gymnasium complex, and free trans-Fort bus transportation. Health insurance fees are reimbursed while supported on an assistantship. 

Living & Housing

Living costs in this moderately sized community are reasonable, averaging about 10 percent less than those in the Denver-Boulder area. Housing Rates

Student Outcomes

There have been 32 Ph.D. and 22 M.S. degrees conferred to students affiliated with the Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences Program, some of which include the 35 new doctoral students that have been recruited directly into the program since 1994. The great majority of the graduates have successfully pursued careers in science. Of the 32 students who earned a Ph.D., 23 continued their training as postdoctoral fellows and 8 entered a science-related field.