PhD in Computational Neuroscience

Program of Studies


International Ph.D. Program in Brain Sciences: Computation and Information Processing (597)

A. Program Requirements

1. The program consists of 54.5 credits: 34.5 from required courses, including the graduate seminar, and 20 from elective courses. Students may receive credit from supplementary courses or from courses taken during their B.Sc. with two stipulations: (1) that the total number of credits for these courses does not exceed 1/3 of the quota of elective courses (approximately 6 credits); and (2) that the head of the program confirms the relevance of the course(s) to the student.

2. The three supplementary courses listed below are compulsory for all students of the program, unless they receive an exemption from the head of the program.

3. In the second year, students must present a graduate seminar (2 credits). The recommended method of preparation for the seminar is to work on a specific project over the course of the second year. The graduate seminar requirement is fulfilled by presenting a lecture (required) on the "graduate seminar day" that is held each year in the last week of studies. The student may prepare his or her project during the "lab rotation" course.

4. Students who have already completed their graduate studies elsewhere must earn 31.5 credits (from the five required courses) and complete the graduate seminar.

5. At the end of the third semester, each student presents the head of the program with a proposed research topic and an advisor. The student should consult with the head of the program if s/he does not yet have an advisor. It is highly recommended that the student begin seeking out possible advisors during the first year.

6. After four semesters, in order to proceed on the direct-to-Ph.D. path, each student must take a qualifying exam. Approximately one month prior to the exam, the student should submit a detailed research proposal that falls within the guidelines of the Authority for Research Students.

7. The head of the program determines the student's eligibility to take the qualifying exam by assessing the student's overall academic performance, paying particular attention to the student's record in the required courses. The minimum requirements are:

A. Completion of at least three of the five required courses.

B. Successful completion of the graduate seminar requirement.

C. A total of at least 28 earned credits (including those from required courses) prior to the qualifying exam.

D. An overall average grade of 85 in all courses, and at least an 80 average in all of the required courses.

E. Register to Ph.D Shlav-A at the Authority for Research Students

The qualifying exam will be focused on the student's research proposal as well as on the student's knowledge of course material—both from classes taken during the first two years as well as material from undergraduate courses, if relevant to the student's proposed research. The screening committee is identical for each student, and aims to ascertain both the student's preparedness as well as the viability of the research proposal and its relevance to neural computation. The screening committee has the authority to recommend an alternate research proposal and/or advisor.

8. In accordance with regulations set forth by the Authority for Research Students, the student will begin his Ph.D. research work.

9. If the student has met the requirements set forth above, and has progressed in his/her research work, the student's advisor and the head of the program can recommend to the Vice Dean of Academic Affairs in Brain Sciences that the student be presented with an MS.c degree. 


B. Structure of the Curriculum

The curriculum makes it possible for students from a variety of different backgrounds to expand and supplement their knowledge—and to study crucial topics in Neural Computation and Information Processing. In addition, the program includes meetings with relevant researchers, both from Israel and abroad.

The program incorporates three types of courses:

1. Prerequisite courses, which will be determined by the head of the track prior to the start of the semester;

2. Required courses, which all students must complete within the first five semesters;

3. Advanced electives.

The curriculum is organized in such a way that students can fulfill their coursework within the first two years of the program. At the end of the second year, students take a qualifying exam that determines their eligibility to proceed on the direct path to the doctorate (see section 6 above).



[1] Prerequisite courses for students with no background (exemption tests will take place before academic year begins)
[2] Required for students who are working with animals in the laboratory 

Learn more about Ph.D. Program in Brain Research: Computation and Information Processing cuurses

C. Annual Student Conference


Each year, the program's students and teachers gather for a three-day conference, usually held in a guest house at Kibbutz Ein Gedi. Over the course of the weekend, the program's advanced students give presentations about their research work. The conference is an opportunity for students from all stages of the program to interact with one another and become acquainted with the broad variety of research conducted within the program. Additionally, each year, a world-renowned scholar is invited to give a guest lecture.

D. Student exchange program with research institutions in Europe and the US

Students may submit a proposal to conduct research at an institution abroad, according to the following conditions:

Students may submit a proposal to conduct research at an institution abroad. The student's research must be jointly supervised by a supervisor abroad and a supervisor at the Hebrew University. In addition, the student must meet all the requirements specified by the Authority for Research Students of the Hebrew University.

Currently, the ELSC-ICNC offers the following student exchange programs:

1. A student exchange program with California Institute of Technology (CalTech), where students can stay up to one semester and work in research labs. Courses taken at Caltech will be credited as elective courses.

2. A student exchange program with the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience (BCCN) in Freiburg, Germany, for either a short stay (ten days to three months) or longer one (a full academic year or more).

3. A student exchange program with Columbia University. Courses taken at Columbia will be credited as elective courses.

Prior to submitting your proposal, please inquire about the availability of funding.


E. International Courses in Neural Computation

In addition to the many conferences on neural computation, there are intensive courses (usually lasting one month) in neural computation in Europe and in the United States. Each year a number of outstanding Hebrew University students are accepted to these advanced courses, and the program encourages and supports students to participate in these wonderful opportunities.

F. Breaking from Studies

If a student who is on a direct route to the Ph.D. decides to stop her/his studies, s/he can switch to a separate department within Hebrew University and obtain an M.Sc. degree from that department. The student must meet the admission criteria and requirements for the M.Sc. degree in the chosen department.