Graduate Education

Graduate Studies

Neuroscience is proud to be one of the few graduate programs at UK to be ranked within the top 20 programs at publicly funded universities nationwide (based on NIH research dollars awarded). The hard work, initiative, and innovation of our faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students have been instrumental in our attaining this status. We look forward to continued success and progress by having enthusiastic, highly qualified, intellectually stimulating students join our graduate program annually.

Integrated Biomedical Sciences

To give our students the widest choice of research topics, including multidisciplinary approaches, the basic science departments in the College of Medicine (neuroscience; molecular and cellular biochemistry; microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics; pharmacology and nutritional sciences; toxicology and cancer biology; and physiology) have joined together to develop an integrated first-year curriculum. All entering graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in these programs are now admitted through the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) program, an undifferentiated first-year core curriculum designed to promote:

  • Exposure to cellular and molecular concepts in the biomedical sciences
  • Development of interdisciplinary approaches essential to innovative research
  • Flexibility in choosing a PhD mentor among more than 175 faculty in six departments.

During the first year of the IBS core curriculum, students simultaneously complete three to four laboratory rotations and participate in research seminars. At the conclusion of the year, students select doctoral programs based on research interests and mentoring relationships in one of six departments - neuroscience; molecular and cellular biochemistry; microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics; pharmacology and nutritional sciences; toxicology and cancer biology; and physiology. The doctoral degree will be awarded from the department chosen (for example, neuroscience).

Additional information about the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program and its application process can be found on their website.

Programs of Study

The department of neuroscience offers a multidisciplinary graduate program leading to the PhD degree. Combined MD/PhD programs also are available. An energetic faculty and flexible curriculum are directed toward giving the graduate competitive research and teaching credentials. Research in the department of neuroscience is largely oriented toward study of the nervous system. State-of-the-art approaches to the structure and function of neural, neuroendocrine, and reproductive systems represent particular strengths of the department.

Prospective students should closely examine the faculty research interests in order to determine whether the program fits their interests. Recent updates of the graduate program are designed to emphasize the development of independent research skills and entry into the research laboratory as soon as possible. Entering graduate students spend the first year in basic coursework of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) curriculum and research laboratory rotations. Advanced coursework, teaching experiences, and examinations typically are completed by the end of the second year. Thereafter, the student is primarily engaged in research. An active seminar program and opportunities for student presentations at national and international scientific meetings contribute to a stimulating environment.


The following courses are required for graduate students who join our department:

  • Advanced Neuroscience
  • Introductory Statistics

The following departmental courses are typically taken by graduate students as electives, but curricula can be tailored to each student’s specific research interests:

  • Neurobiology of Aging
  • CNS Injury and Repair 
  • Mechanisms of Neurologic Disease

Research Facilities

The department is housed in the Medical Sciences Building, on the main campus of the University of Kentucky, and in other buildings on the Medical Center campus. A variety of modern equipment for research at the molecular, cellular, or whole animal / human level is available to the student. The individual research laboratories and departmental core facilities include equipment for scanning and transmission electron microscopy, autoradiography, cell and tissue culture, immunocytochemistry, radioimmunoassay, in situ hybridization, differential centrifugation, computer-based image analysis, electrophysiology, behavioral analyses, photography, and other equipment for modern cellular and molecular analyses. Interdisciplinary work is encouraged by the proximity of campus resources and the cooperative spirit of researchers at the University.


The department pays tuition and fees for students who receive a stipend. Effective fall 2022, costs (tuition plus fees) for full time graduate students (nine credit hours or more) are $6,837.00 per semester for Kentucky residents and $16,774.00 per semester for non-residents.

Financial Aid

For 2021-2022, 12-month stipends and fellowships of up to $25,000, which also carry a waiver of tuition and fees, are available for qualified applicants. These stipends are available for students who choose to work in research labs of faculty with primary appointments in neuroscience. Support for those students who choose to work with any of the joint faculty can be sought from other sources.

The University and the College

The University of Kentucky is a land-grant institution that was founded in 1865. The campus is located on 814 acres. The College of Medicine opened in 1960 and is located in the Albert B. Chandler Medical Center adjacent to the main campus. There are six colleges in the Medical Center - Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health. and Health Sciences - with more than 5,000 students enrolled. Neuroscience faculty are also represented in the Sanders-Brown Research Center on Aging, Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Center, departments of neurology and neurosurgery, and others.

The University student body is made up of over 23,000 undergraduate and 7,000 graduate students on the Lexington campus. The College of Medicine has enrolled approximately 150 graduate students in the basic science departments; of these, 17 are currently enrolled in the department of neuroscience program.

About Lexington

Lexington is located in the heart of the famous Bluegrass area. Operated under a combined city-county government, the metropolitan service area, which includes surrounding counties, has a population of some 450,000 but retains the feel of a smaller city. The downtown area is within walking distance of the University campus. The rolling countryside surrounding Lexington is the center for the thoroughbred horse industry. Entertainers and artists from many fields give performances in the area. Strong basketball and football traditions provide outlets for those interested in sports. Shopping facilities in the central city and in a number of modern suburban malls are excellent, and the larger metropolitan centers of Louisville and Cincinnati are only about 80 miles away via interstate highways.

Lexington offers a wide variety of affordable housing choices - ranging from large historic homes to modern apartment complexes.

Lexington's temperate climate encourages year-round outdoor activities, with state parks within short driving distance. Kentucky's park system is considered to be among the best in the nation and provides opportunities for fishing, hiking, camping, boating, and backpacking in many forest areas. A major recreational attraction is the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky. 

Contact Information

Warren Alilain, PhD                                                                                                                    
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies                                                                       
Department of Neuroscience                                                                                                          
The University of Kentucky College of Medicine
B469 Biomedical Biological Sciences Building
Lexington, KY 40536
Ph: 859.257.3119
FAX: 859.323-5946