Graduate Degrees Offered

M.S. (plan-A and plan-B) in Neuroscience or Biological Sciences 
Ph.D. in Neuroscience or Biological Sciences

The department offers graduate study and research leading to both the Master of Science (M.S.) degree and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in either Neuroscience or Biological Sciences. Prospective students wishing to apply directly to the department should secure a faculty mentor prior to beginning the application process. All other applicants may apply through the Molecular BIOSciences Program.


Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Programs
A Bachelor's degree in an area of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Applied Math or Psychology is recommended. Students with Bachelor’s degrees outside these areas are also encouraged to apply; such students will generally be required to complete appropriate courses while enrolled at MSU to make up subject matter deficiencies prior to full acceptance into the Ph.D. and Masters programs. Factors that the department uses in its admissions process may include GRE scores, TOEFL scores (for non-native English speakers), reference letters, GPA and previous coursework and research experience.

The department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience also participates in the Molecular BIOSciences Program at MSU ( This is an interdisciplinary graduate training program that includes faculty from a wide range of departments specializing in aspects of biology on the MSU campus.

Program Requirements

M.S. Degree
Students may pursue the Master's degree under either Plan A or Plan B. Plan A requires the completion of 20 credits of acceptable coursework and 10 credits of thesis. Under Plan B, a 4 credit project and 26 credits of acceptable coursework must be completed. Master's candidates must take an oral comprehensive exam near the completion of their graduate program. Required curriculum will be tailored to the needs and interests of each student in consultation with their graduate advisor and advisory committee.

Ph.D. Degree
A Ph.D. student must complete 60 credits. This will include a mix of dissertation credits and graduate-level coursework credits. The exact proportion of credits will be determined for each student by their advisory committee. Accepted students will be assigned an advisory committee upon entering the program to assist them in tailoring a curriculum that best fits their educational needs, research interests, and career plans.

Research Experience
Plan A (thesis option) Master's degree students gain research experience through their thesis and are expected to submit the results of their thesis work to at least one journal or conference. Plan B (project option) Master's degree students gain some research experience in the context of their project. Ph.D. students will gain research experience through their doctoral work, journal or conference submissions, and attending conferences

Research Facilities
Graduate research will be performed primarily in the laboratory of the student’s thesis advisor. Additional facilities will be available from the department and in laboratories collaborating with the student’s advisor. Cell Biology and Neuroscience is dually housed in the 5th floor of Leon Johnson Hall and in the basement of Lewis Hall.

Financial Assistance
A number of research and teaching assistantships are available for qualified graduate students. These appointments are normally for half-time assignments (19 hours per week) during the academic year. Some appointments may also be available during the summer. Assistantships will only be offered to formally admitted graduate students. Fellowships are available through MBS program.


Department Head
Roger Bradley, Ph.D.

Graduate Coordinator
Thom Hughes, Ph.D.


  • Cassie Cusick; anatomy and physiology
  • Charles Gray; neurophysiology of visual perception and cognition
  • Thomas Hughes; biophysics
  • Frances Lefcort; molecular and cellular neural development

Associate Professors

  • Roger Bradley; developmental neuroscience
  • Steve Eiger; physiology
  • Jamie Mazer; visual neurophysiology and attention
  • Christa Merzdorf; developmental neurobiology

Assistant Professors

  • Susy Kohout; voltage dependent signaling
  • Steve Stowers; genetic analysis of neural circuits