PhD Track in Brain Sciences


Program Overview

The direct PhD track in Brain Sciences includes two main components: completing a set of courses, and conducting a thesis research resulting in a dissertation. The duration of the program is five years, where students devote the first year primarily to attending courses. Students are expected to submit their PhD research proposals and to pass the qualifying exam (“Quals”) during the second semester of the second year, and no later than the end of the fifth year submit their thesis and complete their final exam (Thesis Defense).




The training program includes six mandatory core courses, additional required courses and seminars, preparatory courses, and eight credits of additional complementary courses.


To bring all students to a common ground in mathematics and biology, every student is expected to complete a set of preparatory courses that is determined according to their own academic background. The preparatory courses must be completed in the first semester of the first year.


Core required courses


  1. Theory of neural networks and computational learning (4+2hrs/week)
  2. Signal and Data Analysis (4+4 hrs/week)
  3. The neurochemical basis of brain processes (4hrs/week)
  4. Neurophysiology (4hrs/week)
  5. Brain and language (4hrs/week)
  6. Normal and pathological cognitive processes (4hrs/week)

Preparatory courses


  1. Mathematics foundations
  2. Scientific programming using Matlab
  3. Introduction to cell biology
  4. Neuroanatomy
  5. Cellular neurophysiology
  6. Neurophysiology of systems

Other required courses, seminars and projects (depending on the type of research)


  1. Research topics
  2. Two short-term research projects
  3. Care of laboratory animals
  4. Advanced laboratory course
  5. Weekly seminar



Student Guidance


A group of faculty is available to advise and guide the students through the program. The names of the faculty members dedicated to counseling new students appear on the Center’s website.

Thesis Advisory Committee

When preparing to advance to doctoral candidacy, each student together with prospective PhD advisor choose a Thesis Advisory Committee. It consists of the PhD thesis advisor who is the chair of the committee, and two faculty members from the Bar-Ilan University/Brain Research Center. Faculty members from other academic institutions in Israel whose area of expertise could provide guidance in an area of the dissertation topic could also serve on the committee.  Thesis Advisory Committee meetings take place at least once a year, assess student’s progress, recommend and advise on the next steps, and guide the student toward accomplishing the dissertation.

Advancing to Doctoral Candidacy

Students work on their research proposal during the second year of the program and submit it to the Thesis Advisory Committee. The qualifying examination (“Quals”) usually takes place toward the end of the second year of study. The examination is based on the evaluation of a written thesis proposal and on the oral examination of the student by the Thesis Advisory Committee, focusing on the details of the proposed research and general knowledge in the field of study. The decision on the passing of the qualifying exam is made by the Thesis Advisory Committee.

Defense of Dissertation

Completion of the PhD degree depends upon writing a thesis and an oral defense. Following thesis review by the Thesis Advisory Committee and by the external reviewer appointed by the Bar-Ilan University PhD committee in accordance with the student’s advisor and the Thesis Advisory Committee recommendations the oral defense is held. It consists of a seminar presentation of the thesis research and an oral examination conducted by the Thesis Advisory Committee following the presentation.


Thesis submission instructions can be found here .

Information for applicants could be found at