In recent years, the boundaries that traditionally divided brain research in departments of Psychology, Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering have blurred. To train the next generation of top-flight brain scientists, Washington University has developed an integrated curriculum that provides graduate students with the training and resources to become leaders in this interdisciplinary field.

The Cognitive, Computational and Systems Neuroscience Pathway (CCSN) is a specialized curriculum available to students pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, or other brain-related discipline at Washington University (including students in the Medical Scientist Training Program). The CCSN Pathway is not a separate degree-granting program, and CCSN students must fulfill all of the degree requirements of their home programs.

The CCSN Pathway provides an integrated curriculum that is compatible with course-scheduling constraints in the home degree-granting programs. The curriculum is challenging and is designed to help students tackle problems using an interdisciplinary approach.

The CCSN Pathway develops in two phases. In Phase 1 (years 1-2), students take 5 common courses (at least one of which fulfills a requirement in the home PhD program). Through these courses, students extend their basic training beyond their original field, participate in inter-disciplinary discussions, and build a trans-disciplinary research project.

In Phase 2 (years 3-4), CCSN students conduct research in neuroscience and enhance their scientific skills through a series of career development activities, including leading class discussions, mentoring junior CCSN students, organizing and participating in immersive encounters with external speakers, presenting at a CCSN seminar series, and taking part in informal dinners with CCSN faculty. Through these activities, CCSN students acquire leadership skills, build relationships within the community, and network with experts in the field.

Throughout the Pathway, CCSN students participate to community outreach activities promoted by the St. Louis Neuroscience Outreach Program.