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Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience
513 Leon Johnson Hall
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

Department Head
Thomas Hughes, Ph.D.

Graduate Coordinator
Charles Gray, Ph.D.


  • Charles Gray; neurophysiology of visual perception and cognition.
  • Gwen Jacobs; systems neuroscience, informatics and information technology .
  • Frances Lefcort; molecular and cellular neural development .
  • John Miller; neurophysiology.

Associate Professors

  • Roger Bradley; developmental neuroscience.
  • Steve Eiger
  • Thomas Hughes; biophysics.
  • Linda Hyman; yeast genetics, cell biology, biochemistry.

Assistant Professors

  • Alexander Dimitrov; theoretical and computational neuroscience .
  • Christa Merzdorf; developmental neurobiology.
  • Anneke Metz; science pedagogy .

Research Professors

  • Sheila Nielsen-Preiss (Associate); molecular microbiology.

Emeritus Professors

  • Dwight Phillips (Professor); developmental neuropathology.

 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. Ph.D. applicants are encouraged to contact faculty in their anticipated research area before applying. The departmental website provides links to detailed descriptions of the degree programs.


 Ph.D. and M.S. Degree Programs

A Bachelor's degree in an area of Biology, CHMYistry, Physics, Applied M 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 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.

For more information, and details about applying, please refer to or The department encourages applicants to use the online application procedure.

 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. For more information, please refer to

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 a minimum of 35 dissertation credits and a minimum of either 25 credits of coursework beyond the Bachelor's degree or 10 credits of coursework beyond the Master's degree. 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. The degree requirements for the Ph.D. in Neuroscience can be found at

Required courses include:

BIOL 611 Neuroscience I 4 Credits
BIOL 612 Neuroscience II 4 Credits
VTMB 424 Ethical Practice of Science 3 Credits
STAT 524 Biostatistics 3 Credits
BIOL 500 Seminar 1 Credit-Each Term

Plus a minimum of 4 courses from the following list:

BIOL 510 Topics in Neuroscience 3 credits
BIOL 522 Genes and Cancer 3 credits
BIOL 525 Sensory Neurophysiology 3 credits
BIOL 526 Neuroethology 3 credits
BIOL 538 Developmental Mechanisms 3 credits
BIOL 553 Biomimetics 3 credits
BIOL 554 Cognitive Neuroscience 3 credits
BIOL 566 Gene Construction 3 credits
BIOL 567 Molecular Medicine 3 credits
BIOL 570 Independent Study 1-3 credits
BIOL 580 Special Topics 1-4 credits
MEDS 532 Medical Neuroscience 6 credits

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 5 th floor of Leon Johnson Hall and in the Center for Computational Biology ( located 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 (20 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.

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