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Neuroscience PhD Options


Neurobiology - the study of the nervous system - is a highly integrative science. The modern neurobiologist must be conversant with concepts from molecular biology, cell and developmental biology, systems neuroscience, animal behavior, and mathematical modeling. Our goal is that students will graduate with specific research accomplishments--culminating in a dissertation and publications--while also developing the broad understanding required to chart their subsequent forays in brain science.

Computational and Neural Systems (CNS)

How does the brain compute? Can we endow machines with brain-like computational capability? Faculty and students in the CNS program ask these questions with the goal of understanding the brain and designing systems that show the same degree of autonomy and adaptability as biological systems. Disciplines such as neurobiology, electrical engineering, computer science, physics, statistical machine learning, control and dynamical systems analysis, and psychophysics contribute to this understanding. It is the program's objective to provide a broad knowledge of this inherently multidisciplinary field, while at the same time requiring an appropriate depth of knowledge in the particular field of the thesis research.

Social and Decision Neuroscience

Social and Decision Neuroscience (SDN) is an interdisciplinary research program which is part of Caltech's broader neuroscience initiative spearheaded through the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience. SDN includes faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students from a variety of disciplines who are interested in how humans decide what to do in a range of decisions with important personal consequences. The SDN graduate option is designed to prepare students to do outstanding innovative research in behavioral and social neuroscience.


Bioengineering research at Caltech focuses on the application of engineering principles to the design, analysis, construction, and manipulation of biological systems, and on the discovery and application of new engineering principles inspired by the properties of biological systems. Areas of research emphasis include: biodevices, bioimaging, bioinspired design, biomechanics, biomedical engineering, cell and tissue engineering, molecular programming, synthetic biology, and systems biology. The goal of the doctoral program is to prepare students to become leading scientists and engineers in academia and industry.


Faculty and laboratories in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering and affiliated programs at Caltech provide outstanding opportunities to carry out creative and innovative work in fundamental, translational, and applied research across a broad spectrum of life sciences. The Biology graduate program provides each student with the opportunity to pioneer cutting-edge research and to take advanced major and cross-disciplinary course work, providing well-rounded and integrated training in biology, along with specialized instruction in areas of particular interest.