Overview

Our brains operate through electrical activity across complex neural networks. Understanding neural electrophysiology has long relied on the quantitative foundation pioneered by Hodgkin and Huxley with their Nobel Prize winning mathematical model for neuron action potential generation. Building on this quantitative formalism, computational modeling of neuron and network electrical activity has become an integral part of neuroscience research. Indeed, our understanding of systems and circuit-level mechanisms of brain function is rapidly proceeding through the integration of experimental techniques with quantitative analysis and modeling methods. Neural engineering also depends on this quantitative framework for the development and implementation of devices for recording, manipulating and controlling neural processes. Additionally, quantitative models and analyses are vital to developing theories for neural encoding of information and computational principles of the nervous system. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, advanced computational methods are necessary to model the complex signal transduction mechanisms and related neurophysiological processes using disciplines ranging from network theory to differential equations. Computational algorithms also are critical for interpreting the massive amounts of complex experimental data obtained by today’s advanced neuroscience research techniques.

Conducting research in all these areas of modern neuroscience requires training in programming, analytic, and computational methods.  Quantitative training also prepares neuroscientists to participate in team-based interdisciplinary investigations that leverage the combined expertise of scientists from experimental, quantitative and engineering fields to understand the brain.

The Rackham Graduate Certificate in Computational Neuroscience is U-M’s response to the increasing prevalence and need for quantitatively trained researchers in neuroscience. The Certificate is administered jointly by the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) and the Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering (MICDE).

The Certificate provides training in interdisciplinary computational neuroscience to graduate students in experimental neuroscience programs and to graduate students in quantitative science programs, such as physics, biophysics, mathematics and engineering. The curriculum includes required core computational neuroscience courses and coursework outside of the student’s home department research focus, i.e. quantitative coursework for students in experimental programs, and neuroscience coursework for students in quantitative programs. To gain valuable experience in interdisciplinary science and collaboration, students are required to participate in an interdisciplinary journal club and to complete a practicum in interdisciplinary computational neuroscience.

Completion of the certificate will prepare students to participate in modern, team-based neuroscience that applies both experimental and computational methods to unravel the mysteries of the brain.

Please see more information below, and contact neuro-micde@umich.edu with any questions.

Information for Prospective Students

Students applying for admission to the Graduate Certificate in Computational Neuroscience must be enrolled in a graduate degree-granting program at the University of Michigan. Admission to the Graduate Certificate in Computational Neuroscience may be granted at any time, but please note the following deadlines:

  • To be considered for enrollment in Fall, students will need to apply by August 1st
  • To be considered for enrollment in Winter, students will need to apply by December 1st
  • For first year students, first semester grades must be posted before applying for this certificate

Questions? Please email neuro-micde@umich.edu

Application procedures for U-M graduate students currently enrolled in a Rackham graduate program:

1. Students should submit a complete application form. Students are encouraged to discuss their proposed study program with their research advisor prior to submission. For first year NGP students, please talk with NGP’s Director. Note that to fill the form:

  • You must be logged-in with your umich ID
  • You cannot save the form before submitting it, so you must have all the information ready
  • Exceptions for courses not on the approved list can be obtained from the certificate’s program committee. If you wish to take a course not on the approved list, submit a syllabus, and explain why this course should be included, to neuro-micde@umich.edu. You must do this prior to submitting the application form.

2. After reviewing your application, the certificate’s program committee will contact you to set a meeting with Prof. Victoria Booth, the certificate’s program director.

3. Once the certificate’s director approves your application:

  • Complete a “Pre-approval Form for Dual Admission“. This form requires a signature of approval from the authorized signer in their current graduate program. Without approval and an authorized signature on the form, the application will not be processed and the application fee of $10 will not be refunded.
  • Go to the Rackham Graduate School Application.
  • Type “Neuroscience” into the search box, and select the following degree program: Computational Neuroscience Certificate.
  • Make sure to upload your UMich transcript from Wolverine Access (unofficial is OK).
  • For the Academic Statement of Purpose, upload a print out of your certificate application’s confirmation email.
  • In the Recommendation section, write “Computational Neuroscience Certificate — Waived by Dept.” in the First Name field.
  • For the Personal Statement, upload a document stating “Computational Neuroscience Certificate — Personal Statement Not Required.”
  • The Graduate Certificate in Computational Neuroscience ”program code” is 02305.
  • Pay the application fee of $10.

4. Please email rachelfk@umich.edu once you have completed the online application.

Application procedures for current U-M graduate students but not enrolled in a Rackham graduate program (e.g. in Ross School of Business):

1. Students should submit a complete application form. Students are encouraged to discuss their proposed study program with their research advisor prior to submission. Note that to fill the form:

  • You must be logged-in with your umich ID
  • You cannot save the form before submitting it, so you must have all the information ready
  • Exceptions for courses not on the approved list can be obtained from the certificate’s program committee. If you wish to take a course not on the approved list, submit a syllabus, and explain why this course should be included, to neuro-micde@umich.edu. You must do this prior to submitting the application form.

2. After reviewing your application, the certificate’s program committee will contact you to set a meeting with the certificate’s program director.

3. Once the certificate program’s director approves your application:

  • Complete a “Pre-approval Form for Dual Admission“. This form requires a signature of approval from the authorized signer in their current graduate program. Without approval and an authorized signature on the form, the application will not be processed and the application fee of $10 will not be refunded.
  • Go to the Rackham Graduate School Application.
  • Type “Neuroscience” into the search box, and select the following degree program: Computational Neuroscience Certificate.
  • Make sure to upload your UMich transcript from Wolverine Access (unofficial is OK).
  • For the Academic Statement of Purpose, upload a print out of your certificate application’s confirmation email.
  • In the Recommendation section, write “Computational Neuroscience Certificate — Waived by Dept.” in the First Name field.
  • For the Personal Statement, upload a document stating “Computational Neuroscience Certificate — Personal Statement Not Required.”
  • Pay the application fee of $10.

4. Email rachelfk@umich.edu to inform us that you have submitted your application.

ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS

There are three fundamental requirements for earning a Graduate Certificate in Computational Neuroscience.

  1. Nine graduate credit hours of coursework in approved courses, a non-exhaustive list can be found here. At least three (3) of the credit hours must be in courses in computational neuroscience, and three credit hours must be in the cross discipline to the student’s home department (i.e., quantitative science course credits for students in experimental science degree programs, and neuroscience course credits for students in quantitative science degree programs). The remaining three credit hours can be fulfilled by an advanced neuroscience or advanced quantitative science course that may be within the student’s home department discipline.
  2. Certificate students are required to attend and participate in an interdisciplinary, computational neuroscience journal club. The journal club consists of faculty and student research presentations, and student presentation of scientific papers related to computational neuroscience. It meets on alternate Fridays 10 – 11:30 a.m. in the Biological Sciences Building (BSB) Rm 1010. Certificate students are required to attend for two semesters and give at least 1 presentation. Contact neural-nets-organizers@umich.edu to be added to the email list. For more information, see the journal club website.
  3. The required practicum constitutes a formal training experience in interdisciplinary computational neuroscience. Certificate students will be required to submit a practicum proposal to the Program Committee for approval and will earn three (3) graduate credit hours for its completion.

For more information, see the Approved Courses page. Please contact neuro-micde@umich.edu with any questions.

Information for Current Students

Approved Courses:

Students must complete nine credit hours of approved courses to earn the Computational Neuroscience Certificate, including:

  • core computational neuroscience course (at least one)
  • cross-discipline courses (3 credit hours required)
  • advance course requirement (There are many appropriate quantitative science and neuroscience courses to fulfill this requirement. The program director will work with students to identify appropriate courses for their interests and training needs.)

View the list of approved courses. Please email neuro-micde@umich.edu if you would like to use a course that is not listed.

Journal Club:

Certificate students are required to attend and participate in an interdisciplinary, computational neuroscience journal club. The journal club consists of faculty and student research presentations, and student presentation of scientific papers related to computational neuroscience. It meets on alternate Fridays 10 – 11:30 a.m. in the Biological Sciences Building (BSB) Rm 1010. Certificate students are required to attend for two semesters and give at least 1 presentation. Contact neural-nets-organizers@umich.edu to be added to the email list.

For more information, see the journal club website.

Practicum:

The required practicum constitutes a formal training experience in interdisciplinary computational neuroscience. Students must submit a practicum proposal to the Program Committee for approval, and will earn three graduate credit hours for its completion. The practicum can be satisfied by one of the following:

  1. A formal rotation in a laboratory whose research is in the cross discipline from the students home degree program, i.e. a computational/theoretical lab for experimental science students or an experimental lab for quantitative science students.
  2. Completion of an extended project for one of the core computational neuroscience courses. The extended project must involve a combination of computational modeling and data analysis. During the planning stage for the course project, the student should discuss their plans with the Program Chair for approval. If the student decides to enroll in the certificate program after already completing the core computational neuroscience course, an extension of the project can be approved, if necessary, and the student will be required to submit a written report on the extended project to the Program Committee, and may be asked to present the project results in the certificate journal club.
  3. Additional coursework in one of the core computational neuroscience courses listed on this page. Extended projects for the required course or the additional course are not necessary, but the projects for each of the courses must be distinct with minimal overlap in modeling or computational methods.

Please send an email to neuro-micde@umich.edu to ask any questions.

UPON COMPLETION OF THE ACADEMIC REQUIREMENTS, FOLLOW THIS GRADUATION CHECKLIST:

1. Apply for graduation via Wolverine Access.  Click on the Student Business link within the Students tab on Wolverine Access.  You can access the Apply for Graduation page through both the Student Center and Degree Progress/Graduation tabs.

2. Please verify that you fulfilled all the requirements (9 graduate credit hours of coursework, practicum and journal club) by emailing neuro-micde@umich.edu.

If you are a Master students:

1. Complete the Rackham Dual/Joint Degree Election Form.

  • Master degree courses go in the left column while the certificate in CN courses counted towards the 9 credits go in the right column.
  • ONLY courses counted towards the 9 credits should go on this form (not the practicum – if applicable)
  • You can only double count 3 credit hours, that is, the left and right columns can maximally have 3 credit hours in common.

2. Have the form signed by your academic/research advisor or departmental academic coordinator (electronic signature is OK).

If you are a Ph.D. student:

You don’t need to complete a Rackham Dual/Joint Degree Election Form unless you are getting an Embedded Masters.

If, as a Ph.D. student, you are getting an Embedded Masters Degree within you program, please make sure you have enough credits for both, the master and the certificate.

  • Specifically, make sure you are only double-counting one course (or 3 credits) between the Masters Degree and the Graduate Certificate in CN.
  • In this case you will have to complete the Rackham Dual/Joint Degree Election Form (see above).
  • Electronically submit the completed form(s) to neuro-micde@umich.edu.

All paperwork with signatures are due by the last day of classes of the semester you plan to graduate from your home degree.  Failure to submit all required documents will result in you not being able to graduate with the certificate that semester.

illustration of a brain

Neural Networks Journal Club

The journal club consists of faculty and student research presentations, and student presentation of scientific papers related to computational neuroscience. Visit the website.