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Suggested Neurosciences Track Ph.D. Curriculum:


Fall semester 1st year 

1-2 required courses (2 cr. each)

0-1 elective course (0-2 cr.)

BIOL 6096 #1 (1 cr.)

BIOL 8504 (1 cr.)

= 6 credits   


Spring semester 1st year

2 elective courses (2 cr. each)

BIOL 6096 #2 &#3 (2x 1 cr. each)

0-1 seminar course (0-1 cr.)

= 6-7 credits

Fall semester 2nd year 

1-2 required courses (2 cr. each)

0-1 elective courses (0-2 cr.)

0-1 seminar course (0-1 cr.)

BIOL 8930/6097 (1 cr.)  

 = 5-6 credits  


Spring semester 2nd year 

1 elective course (2 cr.)

0-1 seminar course (0-1 cr.)

BIOL 8930/6097 (1 cr.)

Qualifier Exam: expected to be taken by May 15th

= 3-4 credits

Fall semester 3rd year   

Dissertation credits (6 cr.)   

0-1 seminar course (0-1 cr.)

= 6-7 credits


Spring semester 3rd year

Dissertation credits (6 cr.)

0-1 seminar course (0-1 cr.)

= 6-7 credits

4th & 5th years

A minimum of 1 seminar course per year (to a total of 5 seminar credits)


Curriculum requires a total of 24 credits minimum: 7 x 2-credit courses (at a minimum of 2-credits each and not including BIOL 6001); 5 seminar courses (includes the BIOL 8504 course to be taken in fall of 1st year); and 5 research credits. All students are required to take BIOL 8501, BIOL 8502 and BIOL 8506 towards their 7 x 2-credit course requirement.

Note: a minimum of two of the 2-credit “elective” courses should be from the group selections of Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell Biology, Microbiology or Physiology and a minimum of two of the 2-credit “elective” courses should be chosen from BIOL 8520, BIOL 8530, BISC 5140 or PSYC 8101; + 12 Dissertation Research Credits (start taking in semester following completion of PhD qualifier exam)


Course descriptions for Neuroscience track

Required Courses (7 credits):

BIOL 8501 – Molecular and Cellular Signaling (2 cr.).  Comprehensive survey of the major neurotransmitter systems including biochemical synthesis and degradation, receptors and intracellular signaling pathways.  Emphasizes modern laboratory techniques and primary literature.  Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

BIOL 8502 - Systems Neuroscience (2 cr.).  Comprehensive survey of nervous system function at the systems level and includes motor, sensory and regulatory systems.  Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

BIOL 8504 - Advanced Survey in Neuroscience (1 cr.).  An introduction to current neuroscience literature with a focus on research at Marquette.  Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

BIOL 8506 – Cellular Neurophysiology (2 cr.).  Biophysical properties of membranes and membrane-bound proteins.  In-depth study of electrotonic properties of membranes, electrical potentials, voltage-dependent and ligand-dependent ion channels.  Emphasizes techniques and data interpretation.  Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

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Electives (minimum of 8 credits):

Select a minimum of two elective courses from:

BISC 5140 – Functional Neuroanatomy (3 cr). Examines the basic structure and function of the central nervous system from spinal cord to cerebral cortex. Material will be presented within both clinical and basic contexts. Based on the understanding of the normal circuitry and function of the brain, clinically relevant neurological disorders and basic neuroanatomical methods explored. Laboratory included. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

BIOL 8520 - Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (2 cr.).  Examines neuroendocrine systems as they relate to behavioral processes and their underlying neurobiological mechanisms with emphasis on the contribution of neuroendocrine dysfunction to neuropsychiatric disease.  Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

BIOL 8530 - Glutamate Neurotransmission (2 cr.).  Reviews critical aspects of glutamatergic signaling including an overview of glutamate receptors, transporter, and release mechanisms.  The contribution of abnormal glutamatergic neurotransmission is discussed in light of a number of pathological states including stroke and schizophrenia. Students integrate course material into a novel research proposal.  Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

PSYC 8101 - Advanced Statistics and Design (1-3 cr.). Covers inferential statistics commonly used in psychological research. Topics include: probability and hypothesis testing; t-tests; one-way, two-way, and repeated measures analysis of variance; post-hoc and planned comparisons; correlation; bivariate regression; nonparametric statistics; power and effect size. Emphasizes identifying the appropriate statistical model for a research question, understanding the assumptions underlying the tests, and being able to compute and interpret the test statistics accurately. Use of statistical packages. Prereq: Admission to clinical psychology program or cons. of psychology dept. ch.


Select a minimum of two elective courses from any of the following:

Biochemistry Selections

BIOL 8101 - Structure and Function of Proteins (2 cr.).  Advanced protein biochemistry stressing methodology and primary literature.  Topics include: structural and chemical properties of amino acids, peptides and proteins; protein folding and assembly; protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions; enzyme kinetics and regulation; and the determination of protein structure.  Uses examples from glycolytic and gluconeogenic metabolic pathways to highlight the structural basis for catalysis and regulation.  Prerequisite: BIOL 4101/5101 or equivalent or consent of instructor.

BIOL 8102 - Biochemistry and Function of Nucleic Acids (2 cr.).  The biochemistry of RNA and DNA with emphasis on biological function and evolution.  Specific topics include: nucleic acid structure, biophysical properties, biosynthesis and molecular function.  Prerequisite: BIOL 4101/5101 or consent of instructor.

Cell Biology Selections

BIOL 8301 – Imaging and Cytoskeleton (2 cr.).  Discusses the principles of cytoskeleton and molecular motors and modern imaging tools developed for the studies of cellular mechanisms.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2301 or equivalent.    

BIOL 8302 - Protein Trafficking and Organelle Identity in Eukaryotic Cells (2 cr.).  An in-depth analysis of protein trafficking and organelle identity in eukaryotic cells.  Discusses in detail the mechanisms of protein translocation across biological membranes and the genetic and biochemical analysis of protein sorting to diverse organelles.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2301 or equivalent. 


Developmental Biology Selections

BIOL 8601 - Advanced Developmental Biology (2 cr.).  Examines fundamental principles of developmental biology as they relate to embryonic and adult stem cells.  Includes: origin of stem cells, regulation of stem cell niches, pluripotency and differentiation, relationship to cancer and experimental approaches to stem cell research.  Also includes discussion of recent advances in stem cell biology.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2301 or BIOL 3601 or equivalent.

BIOL 8603 - Cell and Molecular Biology of Early Development (2 cr.).  Study of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the specification of cell fate in a variety of model organisms including fruit flies, nematodes, mice and zebra fish.  Emphasizes genetic, biochemical and molecular techniques used in studying these complex systems.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2301 or BIOL 3601 or equivalent.


Genetics Selections

BIOL 5201 – Genomics and Bioinformatics (3 cr.).  The analysis of gene structure and genetic regulation in selected prokaryotes and plant and animal systems, as well as transgenic organisms.  Introduction to the principles of bioinformatics and proteomics as applied to genome comparisons and protein structure and function.  Models and algorithms for predictions of the biological properties of genetically modified nucleotide sequences and proteins. 

BIOL 8201 - Developmental Genetics and Epigenetics (2 cr.).  Analysis of genetic and epigenetic influences on development, looking at specific examples from yeast, plant and animal model organisms.  Topics include: genetics of flower development, yeast mating type switching, DNA methylation, genomic imprinting, chromatin remodeling, permutation and prions.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2201 & 2301 or equivalent.

BIOL 8202 – Principles of Eukaryotic Genetics (2 cr.).  Genetics of eukaryotic model organisms with a focus on genetic approaches to the analysis of contemporary biological problems.  Eukaryotic chromosome structure and function.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2201 or equivalent.

BIOL 8801 – Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics (2 cr.).  Basic principles of bacterial genetics and regulation of gene expression.  Points of emphasis (1) how genetics and regulation shape and are shaped by the biology of the organism, (2) principles that are important to all biologists, including the manipulation of bacteria in genetic cloning and protein production, (3) application of genetics to elucidate cell physiology and biochemistry.  Prerequisite: BIOL 3801 or 4101 or BIOL 8102 (or an equivalent of any of these) or consent of instructor.


Microbiology Selections

BIOL 8802 - Microbiology in the Environment (2 cr.).   The detection of microbial diversity, activity, growth and abundance in the environment using molecular methods.  Involves examples from literature.  Prerequisite: BIOL 3801 or equivalent or consent of instructor.

BIOL 8803 – Microbial Ecology (2 cr.).  Study of microbial phylogenic and physiological diversity underlying the ecological interactions in natural communities. Emphasizes quantitative molecular techniques and sequencing used in studying microbial communities in the environment. Develops critical thinking and writing skills in determining research objectives and testing hypotheses.


Physiology Selections

BIOL 5703 - Exercise Physiology (3 cr.).  Study of the effects of acute and chronic exercise on selected organ systems.  Particular emphasis will be placed on muscle, cardiovascular, respiratory and environmental physiology. 

BIOL 8702 – Muscle Biology (2 cr.).  Topics covered include: skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscle relative to their regulation, structure and function.  Emphasizes similarities and differences between these three muscle types with regard to structural organizations, composition, mechanics and kinetics.  In addition, covers development, regulation and disease states.  Emphasizes critical reading of primary scientific literature.  Prerequisite: BIOL 3701 or equivalent.

BIOL 8704 – Cellular Homeostasis (2 cr.).  Detailed study of the proteins and pathways involved in the maintenance of cell volume, pH, and ionic balance, including the analysis of the function of plasma membrane transporter and channel proteins.  The emphasis will be on eukaryotic cells, but prokaryotic cells will also be covered.  Prerequisite: BIOL 2301 or equivalent or consent of instructor.


Other Required Courses

BIOL 6096 – Laboratory Rotations in Biology (1 cr.).  Informal lab rotation of first-year graduate students based on mutual preferences of the student and faculty member.  May include lab group meetings, literature research, bench work, presentation of findings and/or research plans to lab members.  S/U grade assessment.  Prerequisite: consent of Department Chair.

BIOL 6097(8930) - Independent Research in Biology, (1-3 cr.). Independent research of second year graduate students based in their dissertation research laboratories, including lab group meetings, literature research, bench work, presentation of findings and/or research plan to lab members. S/U grade assessment. Prerequisite: BIOL 6096, or Cons. of Department Chair

Please note BIOL6097 will only be available from Fall 2013 onwards; for the academic year 2012 only, students should enroll in the alternate course BIOL8930.

Seminar Courses (1 cr.). A total of five x 1 cr. seminar courses (includes BIOL 8504) taken through years 1-5. See Marquette University Graduate Bulletin for description of current offerings.


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Biological Sciences Department

Marquette University, Wehr Life Sciences
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