Thesis Research

Thesis research must be a significant contribution to knowledge and worthy of publication in its present form. As such, it must be worthy of acceptance in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Selection of Major (Thesis) Advisor

Students must select a major advisor for their thesis research by September 1st of the 2nd year. The Neuroscience Program director is to be notified when a student has made this decision, since the choice of major advisor must be approved by the program director. Major advisors must be able to provide research resources and financial support as well as intellectual guidance for the term of the thesis research. Moreover, the student must submit the completed Change of Major Advisor form to the Graduate School Office of Records and Registration.

Thesis Advisory Committee Formation

The Thesis Advisory Committee is formed prior to October 31 of the second Plan of Study year. The composition of the Advisory Committee should reflect the student’s research interests. It must include three faculty members (associate advisors) chosen jointly by the student and the major advisor. Associate advisors should be selected for their expertise and willingness to advise the student and major advisor throughout the duration of the thesis research. However, at least one associate advisor must be a member of the Student Progress Committee. The Student Progress Committee representative will serve as chair of the Thesis Advisory Committee. Although adjustments to the membership of this committee can be made with approval of the major advisor and program director, changes after the Plan of Study is approved will require that the major advisor present written notification to the Graduate School Office of Records and Registration.

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy form contains a list of completed courses as well as credits to be compiled through graduation and requires approval and signatures from all members of the Advisory Committee. This is a UConn Health Graduate School milestone that should be approved and submitted before October 31 of the second year of study.

Student Progress Seminars

All students are required to present a formal seminar on their thesis research project starting in their third year, and each year after until a reasonable number of months from their scheduled thesis defense. These typically occur in the spring semester. This seminar, which typically coincides with the preparation of the Thesis Prospectus, provides students with valuable experience with the preparation and delivery of a 1 hr long formal seminar in the environment of familiar colleagues. In addition, these presentations acquaint program members with on-going student research projects and foster exchange of information and expertise. Student Progress Seminars are included as part of the yearly Neuroscience Journal Club series.

Doctoral Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is an important milestone required by the Graduate School. This document serves not only as a detailed description of the student’s thesis research project, but also as a guide for discussion of the student’s progress during annual/biannual meetings with their Thesis Advisory Committee. A meeting with the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee should be convened to discuss a general outline for the dissertation proposal prior to completing the document. This outline must be distributed to members of the Thesis Advisory Committee at least one week prior to the meeting. At this meeting, the committee will decide to approve the outline or may require revisions prior to approval. While this meeting typically is scheduled soon after the presentation of the student’s third-year research seminar, it can occur earlier once the student has passed the general examination. However, the completed dissertation proposal document must be submitted to the Thesis Advisory Committee for approval no later than June 1 of the third year. Once approved by the Thesis Advisory Committee, the dissertation proposal document is submitted to the registrar’s office at UConn Health (located at MC1827, LM-035) for approval by the Area Review Committee of the Graduate School. The doctoral dissertation proposal coversheet and instructions can be found on page 3 of the Dissertation Proposal for the Doctoral Degree form.

Application for Individual Pre-Doctoral Fellowships

Students are encouraged to submit a fellowship application to NIH or to other pre-doctoral funding agencies. A student’s support in the Neuroscience Graduate Training Program is not dependent upon obtaining funding of this type, but the experience of submitting an application and the advantage of obtaining individual recognition of this type makes it an extremely worthwhile experience.