First Year of Studies - Courses

In the first year students take two mandatory core courses:  Quantitative Methods for Biologists (NB306QC), an intensive two-week boot camp in August that introduces students to statistics using the MATLAB programming language; and Discipline of Neuroscience (NB215), the year-long, flagship course of PiN that is designed to give students the broad, cross-discipline conceptual fluency required of neuroscientists.


In consultation with members of the Student Advisory Committee, students may also choose to complete additional elective courses during their first year.  PiN students must complete four quarters' equivalence of electives (equaling two full semester courses; see note below), of which one quarter must be fulfilled by an advanced quantitative elective (e.g., NB308QC, Thinking About Data:  Statistics for the Life Sciences) and one quarter should be fulfilled by a neuroanatomy course (e.g., NB315QC, Human Neuroanatomy and Neuropathology). 


The PiN curriculum is deliberately designed to provide flexibility in the timing of electives; however, at least two quarters' equivalence of elective courses must be completed before the students takes the Preliminary Qualifying Examination in the second year.  In later years, students will consult with their Dissertation Advisory Committee to select elective courses (offered either at Harvard or at Massachusetts Institute of Technology) that fill gaps in the student's knowledge or which allow the student to pursue specialized knowledge in subfields that are pertinent to the student's research.  Even after the electives requirement is met, PiN strongly encourages students to continue to seek out elective offerings that enhance their knowledge base and technical skills -- whether semester courses, quarter courses, or workshop-like "nanocourses" -- throughout their graduate career.


A Note about Course Credits:


--Half courses are graduate or undergraduate semester-long courses that are listed as being worth "0.5 credits" or "4 units."  A half course = two quarter courses.

--Quarter courses are graduate-level courses that run less than a full semester and are listed as being worth "0.25 credits" or "2 units."  The course code will end in "qc."

--Nanocourses are short workskhop-like courses offered at Harvard Medical School on specialized topics.  Individual nanocourses do not grant course credit; however, once a student has completed three nanocourses, the student can apply for course credit through the Division of Medical Sciences.  Three nanocourses = one quarter course.  A maximum of six nanocourses can be claimed for course credit.


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