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UCL-NIMH Joint Doctoral Training Program in Neuroscience

About The Program

The University College London – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Joint Doctoral Training Program in Neuroscience is an accelerated graduate program for exceptional students in neuroscience. It brings together two powerhouses of neuroscience research, and allows students to conduct collaborative research between two laboratories, one at UCL, the other at the NIH. Students are registered in the UCL Doctoral School, and receive a PhD from UCL in 4 years or less.

The program is flexible, with the schedule for each student dictated by the demands of their research, and students spend approximately 50% of time in either their UCL or NIH labs. The program welcomed its first student in 2009 and currently has 6 students enrolled (see Student Profile page).

Research Philosophy

Unlike many US graduate programs, students in the UCL-NIMH Joint Doctoral Training Program in Neuroscience choose their area of research interests, and their research mentors, prior to being accepted into the program. Students are highly encouraged to contact potential mentors at both UCL and the NIH as early as possible to begin the process of finding their mentor pair. It is very important that the potential mentors’ research fields are complementary, since the student will form a collaborative link between the two labs and incorporate their expertise into their dissertation research project. By the time students are interviewed, they should have a good idea of their research plans and how the mentors fit into the scope of the proposed project.

The degree is awarded by UCL, which, like most UK universities, has no formal coursework requirements for the PhD. Therefore, students are expected to engage in research from the very beginning of the program. However, they should attend any required training courses necessary at UCL or NIH, as agreed upon with mentors. Students are expected to submit their thesis within 4 years of starting the program, and will be examined by viva (thesis defense) at UCL, according to UCL regulations. For more information on viva exams, visit

A crucial consideration for students on this program is not only whether the student’s interests match those of their chosen mentors, but whether the mentors’ interests overlap. Students should choose mentors with common interests, but who employ complementary approaches and techniques. The broad range of potential mentors at the two institutions means that students should be able to conduct research in practically any field of neuroscience. However, there are some mentors at the two institutions who already share collaborative links and have expressed interest in supervising students in this program. See the Faculty page for details.