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Neuroscience Program Policies

IV. Neuroscience Program Policies

The following policies concerning the stages of progress toward a Ph.D. degree are listed to serve as information for applicants and as a guide for all graduate students in the program. If the NSP academic policies should change during the course of a student's doctoral studies, the student will have the option of retaining the policies as stated at the time of the student’s entrance into the program or adopting the new policies.

  1. Admission

    1. General Policy

      Graduate students usually begin their studies in the fall semester or the preceding summer session as part of an “early start”.

    2. Readmission

      If a student's program of study is interrupted for reasons other than academic progress for three or more semesters, inclusive of the summer, he/she must apply for readmission to MSU. With respect to the NSP, readmission is automatic if an application is made within one year. The readmission process must be initiated though the  Office of the Registrar at https://reg.msu.edu/StuForms/Readmission/Readmission.aspx.

      Applications for readmission should be filed at least six weeks prior to the first day of class of the semester in which the student expects to resume studies. All financial holds must be paid in full before an application will be processed. The NSP office will assist the student with this process

  2. Registration Procedures

    Students can enroll for classes online using the Schedule Builder. Registration status can be reviewed in StuInfo. Students can enroll via any computer with internet access. Students will receive a letter that will include a Personal ID number (PID), a permanent Personal Access Number (PAN), and the date and time to access the enrollment systems. Detailed instructions and dates for computer enrollment can be found on the Registrar's Office Enrollment site. Students should be aware that late enrollment will result in a substantial additional fee. Students will be notified of the results of their enrollment requests by mail and or email. If the student is not satisfied with the schedule, it can be adjusted via computer. After obtaining a schedule of courses, a student will complete the registration process by paying fees indicated on the registration billing statement. All students can defer up to half of their tuition and associated fees, and two-thirds of their University housing charges, on their initial billing statement. A service fee for deferment is assessed. Interest will be charged on the remaining portion of deferred tuition and course fees, but not on deferred housing charges. Students who have not paid the minimum amount of their bill by the due date will be dropped from the courses in which they have enrolled. Students must return their registration bill to the registrar's office even if there is a zero balance

    NSP graduate students should discuss their proposed schedule with the GPD (Year One) or their graduate advisor (Years Two and beyond).

  3. Educational Records

    NSP graduate students have the right to access their educational records. One needs to contact the Academic Program Coordinator and schedule a time to review their file. When the review is conducted, the Academic Program Coordinator will be present

    The typical content of a graduate student's file includes:

    • Checklist of student's forms
    • Admission documents
    • MSU transcripts
    • Transcripts from other Universities
    • MSU grade reports
    • Laboratory rotation evaluations
    • Annual evaluations
    • Responsible research conduct workshop and research forum requirement records
    • Reappointment information letters
    • Teaching requirement
    • TOEFL and GRE scores
    • Graduate assistantship appointment papers
    • Graduate fellowship appointment papers
    • Approvals/other sources of funding
    • NSF/NIH/Other sources applications
    • NIH grant appointment papers
    • NIH related correspondence papers
    • Documents related to the comprehensive exam including the questions, student's answers, grades and faculty critiques of answers and names of Neuroscience faculty that served as Comprehensive Exam Coordinator and members of the four exam writing/grading committees that documents the faculty involved in each student's exam
    • Report of the guidance committee form of the oral defense
    • Health insurance papers, record of courses taken and plan of study
    • ORCBS training records
    • Waiver of courses request/approval
    • Dissertation proposal
    • Termination checklist form/record of dissertation and oral exam requirements for doctoral degree candidate
    • Abstracts
    • Articles
    • Publications

    If a student wishes to challenge any of the content in his/her file, the student should write a letter indicating the issues. This letter will be reviewed by the PD, GPD and Graduate Affairs Committee, and placed in the student's file. Appropriate action will be taken if indicated by the review.

  4. Dismissal Policy

    A student may be dismissed or withdraw from the program for the following reasons: 1) if found to have engaged in scientific misconduct and or 2) failure to pass the written or oral components of the comprehensive exam. Please refer to policy described in the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, section 2.4.9.

  5. Work Hours and Vacation Time

    All graduate students should be actively engaged in research, literature reviews, or some other phase of the doctoral program even during semester breaks. Keep in mind that graduate work in neuroscience is a full-time undertaking. Specific times in the lab and vacation schedules are to be arranged between the graduate student and his/her graduate advisor or rotation supervisor

  6. Mail

    Each new NSP graduate student will be assigned a mailbox in the Neuroscience Program Office. As soon as the student selects a graduate advisor, the student should arrange for regular mail to be sent to the home department of his/her major professor. Campus mail is designed to expedite the delivery of items pertaining to university business. It is not to be used for personal items.

  7. Electronic Mail

    Each NSP graduate student will be issued an account on MSU's email system. Users can exchange email with others at MSU and elsewhere on the internet. Much of the correspondence from the Neuroscience Program office will be communicated via email, including frequent updates regarding seminars and events. See the Acceptable Use Policies for MSU email accounts.

  8. Student Travel Policy

    All NSP doctoral students in good standing are eligible for $750 in travel support each academic year to travel to and participate in a scientific meeting or conference. To request this funding, students must submit the Travel Funding Application to the GPD and Academic Program Coordinator well ahead of the meeting for approval. The student must be a first author on an abstract submitted for presentation at the conference. Students requesting funding to Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting must submit the request for travel funds by September 8th each year.

    Once the PD or GPD approves the request, the student should download the pre-trip checklist to assist with the reimbursement process. A student can receive program funds in two ways:

    1. 1. Students can choose to pay travel expenses up front and then submit receipts for reimbursement after the meeting. Program funds will cover up to $750 of these costs. The balance will need to come from non-program sources.
    2. 2. Meeting registration and airfare can be direct billed to an NSP account. Office staff will assist with this task. Students training in East Lansing should come to the Neuroscience Program Office to register for the meeting using the Program P-card. A student should notify the Academic Program Coordinator if the flight is to be direct billed. Students training in Grand Rapids should contact Thuy Tran (Associate Department Administrator, Department of translational Neuroscience. Email: thuy.tran@hc.msu.edu Phone: 616-234-0963) who will assist with meeting registration

    The university requires that students complete travel pre-authorization well before the trip is made. This is done in Concur a travel and expense system that is designed to streamline the travel process for Michigan State University employees, including graduate students. Graduate students will need to set up an individual account in the system. Information about this can be found at the website http://ctlr.msu.edu/COTravel/AboutConcur.aspx. Travelers and travel arrangers will find their travel profiles, pre-trip requests, travel booking, receipt management, and travel expense reporting in Concur.

    For a graduate student traveling overseas, he/she should contact The Olin Health Center Travel Clinic for updates on vaccinations that might be required and TGS for insurance coverage for international travel.

    For additional information, please visit the Graduate School Travel site.

    See also section V.A.i. Student Travel Policy

  9. Neuroscience Program Standing Committees

    1. Comprehensive Exam Committee

      Three topics are covered on the standardized component of the comprehensive exam: a controversy question, a translational question, and a proposal topic. Each topic has an exam writing/grading committee that consists of three program faculty members, one of whom serves as chair. Each will be appointed for a 2-year term with one position rotating on/off each year. A faculty member cannot serve consecutive terms. Faculty can volunteer or can be asked to serve by the Comprehensive Exam Coordinator. The Comprehensive Exam Coordinator will serve a 2-year term and will be chosen by the Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC). The GPD often serves as the Exam Coordinator. Students will be informed about who is on each of the exam writing/grading committees at the time the exam evaluations are returned. During the exam, students will be told who the exam chair or contact person is. During the remediation process, students may receive guidance from committee members about the summary statement and expectations for the revised response. Prior to the exams, students may consult the GPD about performance expectations

    2. Neuroscience Program Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC)

      The FAC represents the faculty in providing advice to the PD on appointment and reviews of faculty and other policy and curriculum matters relating to the Neuroscience Program. The committee consists of six elected NSP faculty members plus one appointed graduate student representative. Elected members serve three-year terms. The GPD serves as an ex officio member of the committee

    3. Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC)

      The GAC in charged with handling all aspects associated the graduate students and graduate program. An important charge is the review of applications for graduate study (each December) and recommendations for applicant admission to the PD. The committee also plays a key role in arranging and conducting the Interview Days (January), seeking to recruit the best qualified applicants for graduate study. In its recommendation, the GAC considers the following: academic performance, course preparation in the basic sciences, direct knowledge of and experience in neuroscience research, letters of recommendation, statement of research interest, outreach and service, and competence in the English language, if relevant. The GAC also makes recommendations on requests for course waivers and other issues related to an individual student's graduate training. Students with grievances may take them to a member of the GAC or to the GPD. The committee consists of six appointed NSP faculty, including the GPD. The term of service is two years

    4. Graduate Student Council (GCS)

      The GSC assumes several duties including, but not limited to, organization of the annual retreat, administration of faculty awards, assistance with Interview Days, and planning of social activities. Additionally, members of the GSC can serve as graduate student representatives on NSP committees including FAC, GAC, any faculty search committee, the Dean's Student Advisory Committee (DSAC), and COGS.

Program Director
Jim Galligan, PhD

Director of Online Programs 
Casey Henley

Academic Program Coordinator
Eleri Thomas

Giltner Hall
293 Farm Lane Room 108
East Lansing, MI

Phone: (517) 353-8947
Fax: (517) 432-2744


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