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 graduate students in the Neuroscience Program. If the Neuroscience Program 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 entrance into the program or adopting the new policies.

  1. Admission

    1. General Policy

      Graduate students usually begin their graduate studies in Fall Semester or the preceeding Summer Semester.

    2. Readmission

      If a student's program of study is interrupted for reasons other than academic progress for three or more semesters, inclusive of summer, he/she must apply for readmission to Michigan State University. With respect to the Neuroscience Program, readmission is automatic if an application is made within one year. The readmission process must be initiated though the Office of the Registrar website (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 Neuroscience Program office will be happy to assist the student with this process.

  2. Registration Procedures

    Students can enroll for classes by computer. This is part of an integrated computer system known as the Student Information System (SIS). 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. 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.

    Neuroscience Program graduate students should discuss their proposed schedule with their major professor. Graduate students who have not yet selected a major professor and have questions about their required courses should discuss their schedule with the Neuroscience Program Director.

  3. Educational Records

    Neuroscience Program students have the right to access their educational records. They need to contact the Neuroscience Program Graduate Office and schedule a time to review their files. When the review is conducted, the Neuroscience Program secretary will be present.

    The typical content of a Neuroscience Program 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
    • NSP buddy program match and criteria
    • Documentation of NSP buddy meetings; correspondence and memos

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

  4. Dismissal Policy

    Students may be dismissed or withdrawn from the program for the following reasons: 1) if found to have engaged in scientific misconduct; 2) failure to pass the written or oral components of the comprehensive exam. Please refer to MSU/GS policy in the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, section 2.4.9.

  5. Work Hours and Vacation Time

    All 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 Neuroscience Program graduate study is a "full-time" program. Specific times in the lab and vacation schedules are to be arranged between the Neuroscience Program graduate student and his/her major professor or rotation advisor.

  6. Mail

    Each new Neuroscience Program graduate student will be assigned a mailbox in the Neuroscience Program Office. As soon as a Neuroscience Program graduate student has selected a major professor, 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 MSU 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. Telephone

    For on-campus calls there is no charge. Long distance calls related to research should be charged as agreed upon with the major professor.

  9. Student Travel Policy

    All Neuroscience Program Ph.D. students are eligible for $750.00 in travel support to one scientific meeting/conference each academic year. To request access to these funds students must sub the Travel Funding Request (Appendix H) to the Program Director, detailing the information requested in the funding request. 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 of every year. 

    When the Program Director approves your request student should download the pre-trip checklist to assist with the reimbursement process. Student can access program funds in two ways:

    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. Meeting registration and airfare can be direct billed to Neuroscience Program accounts. 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. Notify Julie Delgado (delgadof@msu.edu), if you would like your flight to be direct billed.  She will work with you to get the flight booked.  Students training in Grand Rapids should contact Kristina Loeffler (Kristina.Loeffler@hc.msu.edu) who will assist with meeting registration.

    The university requires that students complete travel authorization forms (Appendix I) for reimbursement and insurance purposes. Students are responsible for informing the Program office of any travel plans before the departure date so that a travel authorization can be issued.

    If students obtain travel funds from other departments and none from the Neuroscience Program, the travel authorization will be issued by the other departments for processing of the reimbursement.

    If students receive travel funds (from the Neuroscience Program or other departments), they will inform the person processing their travel voucher of the receipt of such funds.

    Please remember that students are eligible for travel funds from the Program once per academic year and that it is the student's responsibility to make the request in time to receive the funds when they are needed, if before travel.

    For students traveling overseas, they should contact The Olin Health Center Travel Clinic for update on vaccinations and also contact The Graduate School for Med Ex insurance coverage.

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

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

  10. Neuroscience Program Committees

    1. Comprehensive Exam Committee

      Exam writing/grading committees will have 3 members, one of whom will serve as chair, each appointed for a 2-year term with one position rotating on/off each year. Faculty 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 Neuroscience Program Faculty Advisory Committee. Students will be informed about who is on each of the exam writing/grading committees and receive guidance from committee members about performance expectations on the exam.

    2. Neuroscience Program Advisory Committee

      The Advisory Committee represents the faculty in providing advice to the Director on appointment and reviews of faculty and other policy and curriculum matters relating to the Neuroscience Program.

    3. Graduate Affairs Committee

      The Graduate Affairs Committee reviews applications for graduate study and recommends admission of the applicant. The Committee consists of six Neuroscience Program faculty, and seeks to recruit the best qualified applicants for graduate study. In its recommendation, the Admissions Committee 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, competence in the English language, GRE scores and recommendations by individuals in the applicant's field of interest. The Graduate Affairs Committee 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 Graduate Affairs Committee or to the Program Director or the faculty liaison of the NeuroBuddy Program.

    4. Graduate Student Council

      The NSP GSC assumes several duties within the NSP including (but not limited to) organization of the annual retreat, administration of faculty awards, and organization of NSP social activities. Additionally, several members of the NSP GSC serve as graduate student representatives on NSP committees including the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC), the NSP hiring committee, the Dean's student advisory committee (DSAC), and the NSP faculty advisory committee.