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VINE Scholars PhD Program

Vertically Integrated Neuroscience  Education: A New Path to a Neuroscience Ph.D in NUIN

 Program Overview

The Vertically Integrated Neuroscience Education (VINE) Program is a new path to a neuroscience PhD for Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (WCAS) undergraduate and Master’s students at Northwestern. VINE creates an integrated pipeline to directly admit students with substantial research experience in a WCAS lab that wish to continue that research for graduate training in the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience (NUIN) program. Students will start thesis research immediately in their chosen WCAS lab and pursue a tailored curriculum based on prior coursework, greatly accelerating the progress to degree. VINE Scholars will be fully integrated in the NUIN PhD program, and will be required to meet nearly all of the same requirements, with the exception that they will pursue a more tailored curriculum.

Primary Benefits:

  1. Shorter time to degree. By building upon their current research and bypassing the first-year rotations typical of neuroscience Ph.D. programs, VINE Scholars will be able to shorten their time to degree.
  2. Individualized curriculum. By completing a B.A. or M.S. in Neuroscience/Neurobiology at Northwestern, you do coursework that overlaps with much of what is required in neuroscience Ph.D. programs. As a VINE Scholar, you can bypass redundant coursework and pursue a personalized curriculum that allows you to build deeper expertise in your areas of interest.
  3. Stick around your communities. VINE is intended to make a Northwestern Neuroscience Ph.D. accessible to those who don’t want or aren’t able to move away for graduate school. Being a  VINE Scholar will allow you to remain part of your lab / department / Northwestern / Chicagoland communities.


Vine scholars will be selected based on the following criteria:

 Progress to Degree

Coursework: VINE scholars are expected to complete 9 credits of coursework, pursue laboratory research, and engage in TA-level teaching. Each VINE scholar will work with the VINE faculty advisory committee and their lab advisor to define a customized curriculum based on their past coursework. VINE scholars will have access to a broad range of 300- and 400-level courses across many Northwestern departments and programs, including WCAS, the McCormick School of Engineering, and NUIN.

 Topics in Modern Neuroscience, a new course offered by the Department of Neurobiology will be required for VINE scholars. This course will cover a range of topics in experimental neuroscience by first didactically reviewing basic “textbook” principles and then using that information as a basis to introduce students to current research in those fields through a literature-based seminar with discussion.

 Laboratory Research: Instead of typical laboratory rotations, VINE Scholars will engage in laboratory research while taking classes. This research experience will earn students one credit and involve typical NUIN assessments (abstract, talk, poster).

 Example Course and Milestone Schedule for VINE Scholars:

First Year
Second Year
Third Year


  • NUIN 401-1 Fundamentals [1 credit]
  • NUIN 407 NUIN Graduate Foundations [0 credits]
  • Laboratory Research [1 credit]



  • NUIN 411-2 Great Experiments in Cellular Neurophysiology [1 credit] OR


Submit Thesis Proposal by December


  • NUIN 401-2 Fundamentals, or Neuroscience 311 Biophysical Analysis of Neurons [1 credit]
  • NUIN 440 Neuroanatomy [1 credit]
  • Elective [1 credit]


  • NUIN 411-3 Great Experiments in Systems Neuroscience [1 credit]



  • Topics in Modern Neuroscience (New VINE course) [2 credits]
  • Statistics/Quantitative methods (e.g. NUIN 408, STAT 320, IBIS 432) [1 credit]


  •  Qualifying Exam




  • NUIN 490 Responsible Conduct in Neuroscience Research [0 credits]

 VINE students will complete two quarters as Teaching Assistants in Neuroscience Major courses.