Frequently Asked Questions

Click a question to see the corresponding answer below.


What courses are mandatory for CNAP students?

First year students – Fall:

  • PSY 759s Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience, 3 credits
  • PSY 757s Cognitive Neuroscience Presentation Course I, 1 credit
  • PSY 763S First Year Seminar, 1.5 credits
  • 1 elective of your choice/neurobiology modules 1- 3 credits
  • NEUROSCI 751 Neuroscience Bootcamp, no credit
  • NEUROSCI 755 (section number and permission number TBA by DGSA), Lab rotation, 3-7 credits
  • RCR (Responsible Conduct for Research) Training in Ethical Issues and Teaching Methods: This is a discussion course in research ethics required for all incoming Ph.D. students in biomedical programs at Duke. Students will attend a day-long meeting during their orientation week. Students are then required to continue their training by attending at least three Responsible Conduct in Research Forums (making a total of 6 credit hours) within the first three years of their program of study. This number may be increased at any time to meet changes in federal regulations. These credits do not count toward the 12 CNAP course credits.

First year students – Spring:

  • NBI 762 Neurobiology of Disease (January), 2 credits
  • PSY 758S Cognitive Neuroscience Presentation Course, 1 credit
  • PSY 764S First Year Seminar, 1.5 credits
  • NEUROSCI 755 (section number and permission number TBA by DGSA), Lab rotation, 3-7 credits
  • Quantitative Elective, 1-3 credits (suggestions below)
  • RCR Training in Ethical Issues and Teaching Methods. Ongoing from the first semester.

Second year students – Fall:

  • PSY 757s Cognitive Neuroscience Presentation Course I, 1 credit
  • NEUROSCI 755 (section number and permission number TBA by DGSA), Lab rotation, 3-7 credits. (This is the summer lab rotation, but registered as a fall course)
  • Optional 4th lab rotation (requires DGS approval)
  • Electives of your choice (ideally fulfilling requirements of the department you plan to join)

Second year students – Spring:

  • PSY 758S, Cognitive Neuroscience Presentation Course I, no credit/attendance required
  • Electives of your choice

3+ year students:

  • Fulfill the requirements of the department you declared. Students are expected to continue to attend the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Colloquium series until graduation.

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How many credits do I need to enroll in each semester?

Students are expected to enroll for 12 credits – between mandatory and elective courses – plus 1 credit for continuation. In addition, all paid students (i.e. students who receive a stipend for research related to their dissertation, etc.), must register for continuation during the summer (summer full continuation – 1 credit).

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How many lab rotations do I need to complete?

You must complete 3 lab rotations: fall, spring, and summer of your first year. Please note your third rotation will be completed during the summer but registered as a fall course for the second year. If you wish, a fourth lab rotation may be completed during the fall of the second year, if approved by the DGS.

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How many credits do lab rotations count for?

When enrolling for your lab rotation, you should choose how many credits you’d like it to count for. Generally, students put as many credits as needed to complete the 12 credit requirement, which means lab rotations usually count for 3-7 credits.

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In which labs can I do my rotation?

You can do your rotation in the lab of any CNAP training faculty. However, this can be limited by the faculty member’s availability (i.e., if they are on sabbatical) and space in their lab (i.e., there could be another student already rotating in their lab). You are encouraged to think ahead about the rotations to plan around such potential conflicts.

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How do I register for a lab rotation?

You will need to confirm your rotation with the faculty member, then tell the DGSA who will set up a NEUROSCI 755 section for you with that particular faculty member and give you a permission number to register for that section. Lab rotations should be between 3-7 credits and you will need to specify how many credits your rotation should be worth or default will be 3 credits. If you forget to specify and need to change the number of credits, you will need to re-register and get a new permission number from the DGSA.

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How many electives do I need to take per semester?

Students should try to take at least one elective per semester for the first two years. If Neuroscience Bootcamp or Neurobiology of Disease make taking an elective difficulty because they cut into the fall/spring semesters, check to see which Neurobiology modules are being offered or check if course are being offered that will accommodate your late arrival. CNAP faculty offering courses are often willing to make this accommodation.

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What quantitative courses fulfill the Quantitative Elective CNAP requirement?

Below we list some examples of quantitative course CNAP students can take to fulfill their quantitative elective course curriculum requirement. The ideal scenario is for this elective to be taken in the spring semester of the first year, but there is some flexibility in timing and some of the below courses may not be offered in the spring. We advise that you study the course catalog before arriving at Duke in order to determine whether and when these courses are offered during your first year in CNAP.

  • PSY 720 Applied Multivariate Statistics
  • PSY 762 Functional Magnetic Resonances Imaging
  • PSY 766 Applied Analysis of Variance
  • PSY 767 Applied Correlation and Regression Analysis Note: PSY 766 and PSY 767 represent a sequence, with PSY 766 offered in the fall and PSY 767 offered in the spring. The instructor prefers that students take both of these classes in sequence, and you may not get into the spring class unless you have taken the fall class. Please inquire with the instructor to determine this.
  • PSY 768 Applied Structural Equation Modeling
  • PSY770 Applied Multilevel Modeling
  • BIOSTAT 719 Generalized Linear Models Note: This is recommended only for student who already have a solid stats foundation.
  • NEUROBIO 733 Experimental Design and Biostatistics for Basic Biomedical Scientists
  • NEUROBIO 735 Quantitative Approaches in Neurobiology
  • STA 601 Bayesian Methods and Modern Statistics Note: This recommended only for students who already have a solid stats foundation.
  • STA 663L Statistical Computing and Computation Note: This is recommended only for students who already have a solid stats foundation.
  • MATH 718 Matrices and Vector Spaces Note: This is recommended only for students who already have a solid stats foundation.

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What courses count as electives for CNAP?

As a rule of thumb, any course offered by the affiliated departments or by CNAP faculty count as CNAP electives. If you are interested in taking a course that you think is relevant to your research but it does not belong to any of these categories, you will need the approval of the DGS. We also recommend that you look at the course requirements for the department you are likely to declare. Below is a sample list of electives taken by our current and recent students:

  • COMPSCI 590 Advanced Topics in CPS: Computational Economics
  • EVANTH 590S Seminar Selected Topics: Social Evolution in Brain/Mind
  • EVANTH 582S Primate Adaptation
  • EVANTH 701S Concepts in Evolutionary Anthropology
  • NEUROBIO 719 Concepts in Neuroscience I
  • NEUROBIO 720 Concepts in Neuroscience II
  • NEUROBIO 733 Experimental Design and Biostatistics for Basic Biomedical Scientists
  • NEUROBIO 881 Functional Magnetic Resonance
  • PHIL 731 Seminar Special Fields
  • PSY 672S Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory
  • PSY 780 Behavioral and Computational Neuroscience
  • PSY 705 Adult Pathology
  • PSY 716 Behavior Decision Theory
  • PSY 766 Applied Analysis of Variance
  • PSY 781 Data Methods in Cognitive Psychology

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What are the TAships requirements for CNAP students?

All CNAP students must do a minimum of 2 TAships regardless of their departmental requirements. We have worked out agreements with some of the affiliated departments to reduce the required number. For example, students who declare P&N will do 3 TAships rather than the 4 they typically require. Evolutionary Anthropology students are required to do 4. Neurobiology students will do 2. In general CNAP students will not TA until their 3rd year. However in rare circumstances we will request that you TA your second year if we are in need of a TA. If there are classes you hope to TA please email the DGS to see if it is possible to accommodate this- but of course this is a difficult balancing act to get TAs and classes paired up each year.

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When does summer lab rotation start?

Lab rotations start in the first day of the term and end the last of exams for that term. As for summer, there is flexibility but generally you may take a one week break following your spring rotation before beginning your summer rotation (which should start no later than the first day of summer term) and the summer rotation will end about a week prior to the start of the fall of the second year.

Prior to each lab rotation, students will complete a Student Lab Rotatin Basics and Expectations form with the lab rotation PI which will outline the research targets, training goals, and other expectations to provide structure to the experience. When rotating through a lab, students will often be paired with a senior lab member (e.g., a postdoctoral fellow or senior grad student) to work on an ongoing research project; alternatively, they may be given a new project. Once the lab rotation comes to an end, students will not be expected to finish any project they have been working on while rotating. Should the student wish to complete work on a project, they could do so during the fall semester of their second year after all three lab rotations are completed. These details can be specified on the Student Lab Rotation Basics and Expectations form in agreement between the student and lab rotation PI.

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