Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I declare neuroscience as a major and what is an intended major?
You must earn at least 30 semester hours and have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Please note that this GPA pertains to the
major. Although 3.0 is not specified in the catalog, it remains the policy of the neuroscience program. For the neuroscience minor,
the minimum GPA is 2.0 and is stated in the catalog. It is also in your best interest to examine the major program checksheet so that you take the proper initial courses before declaring the major. Once you have met credit hour and GPA requirements, contact Dr. Tran for a meeting and you will be declared. If applicable, a minor program of study will also be declared at this meeting as well.
Incoming freshmen or those not yet qualified will have "General College" shown in their transcripts in Self-Service Banner. After a student is declared, this designation will change to "College of Arts and Sciences". The "General College" designation simply means that the student is an intended major.
2. When and how do I find a faculty member who will mentor me?
This applies to the 5-6 semester hours required for lab research courses (see also Question #3 below). The lab research courses of concern are NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312, and PSYC 4315. By taking any one of these courses, you will not only earn course credit, but also acquire research experience in an area of interest. The intent of this requirement is to help you acquire and develop skills in scientific methodology, as a career in neuroscience or any related career (e.g., medicine) requires you to have a scientist's aptitude for acquiring knowledge objectively. You should start seeking out a mentor as soon as you declare the major (early sophomore year); this does not preclude you from conducting research in your freshman year (provided you balance your schedule accordingly). These courses must be completed prior to enrolling in Neuroscience Thesis courses (NEUR 4950/4951) that are to be taken during your senior year. Do not procrastinate until your senior year - this is a turn off to faculty, as they must put forth much labor and devotion into training you and mentoring you. They reserve the right not to admit you in their lab; consider lab research to be a privilege, not a right. See the faculty page for names and contact information. Note that you are required to register for courses that require lab work and courses that require completion of a senior thesis (see below). Thus, seeking out a mentor and working with the same mentor consistently would be highly recommended. You may also contact Dr. Tran for advice on finding a mentor that matches your interests.
3. What form do I use for the research and/or literature courses (NEUR 4200, NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312, PSYC 4315)?
a. Use the Contract for Directed Readings/Research form. The form is fillable, so enter the information directly.
b. Have your mentor enter the required information regarding course description, your duties and/or requirements, and how you will be evaluated. Click here for a sample of this contract. This can be done in 1-2 paragraphs or in outline form if the mentor chooses. The form must be signed by you and the mentor, and submitted to me before the registration period ends. In the event that the mentor cannot sign the form before registration ends, a simple email from the mentor to Dr. Tran would be acceptable; afterwards, have the form turned in to Dr. Tran as soon as possible.
c. Keep a copy for yourself and your mentor.
d. Have your mentor email Dr. Tran your final grade the first week of final exams.
e. A different contract must be submitted for each course and the duties/responsibilities must be unique from what was previously required.
4. What form do I use for the senior thesis and what does this involve?
a. Use the Senior Thesis Application Form. It is fillable, so you can type the required information directly in the form; instructions are provided on that form.
b. Your thesis mentor ultimately decides the requirements for the thesis project (and final course grades). Project options are provided in the thesis application form.
c. This application form serves as the contract for both thesis courses.
d. Have your mentor email Dr. Tran your grade at the end of each semester.
5. What if a required course(s) is not offered during any semester of your college career?
If this happens, then contact Dr. Tran for possible course substitutes. Finding, being approved of, and taking a substitutable course requires forethought and planning - do not procrastinate to ask or seek information. You will need to meet with Dr. Tran to arrange for course substitutes. Typically, substitutions are applied for during your senior year at approximately the same time the senior summary is constructed.
6. What is a senior summary and when will I need it constructed?
This policy may change as school policy changes. Currently, you should arrange to meet with Dr. Tran two semesters prior to graduation. During this meeting, your credit hours earned/transferred, minimum GPA for graduating, general/core courses taken, and general/core courses that still need to be taken, are reviewed in detail to ensure that you are on track for graduating. If you meet all requirements, then Dr. Tran will sign the senior summary form and have you turn it in to the Registrar's Office. At that point, you can also apply for graduation (at the Registrar's Office). Note that any arrangements for course substitutions (#5 above) with Dr. Tran can also be filed with the Registrar as well.
- 7. Why doesn't my supervisor/mentor's name appear as the instructor for the Lab Research type courses (NEUR 4200, NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312, or PSYC 4315)? By default, the Dr. Tran appears as the instructor for these courses. He makes these courses available for registration each semester in a single pass, saving labor in assigning actual course instructors. At the end of the semester, you are responsible for reminding your actual instructor to submit your final grade to Dr. Tran (via email is fine).
- 8. How come my course isn't substituted yet in my transcript? The Senior Summary will specify what remaining courses you need to take and if a course has already been substituted, it will not appear on the Senior Summary and may not be given any special designation in the transcript. Instead, the Registrar will interpret the courses listed in the Senior Summary as a "binding" contract that you need to fulfill. Because the substitution course may not be specially designated in the transcript, the Registrar need only refer to the Senior Summary for guidance on your remaining requirements.
- 9. I can't get into some biology, chemistry, or math courses for various reasons. What should I do? You will need to refer to each department's website for (1) more information about course restrictions and policies, (2) filling-out/submitting any specialform that each requires, or (3) placing out of a course (in the case of math). The following links are current as of 7/11/2012: (1) Biology, (2) Chemistry, (3) Math.
- 10. I would like to take more than 18 semester hours. What should I do? You must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all work in order to take 19 or 20 semester hours of course work. The approval for extra-hour load must be signed on the registration form by the advisor, chairperson, director, or dean concerned. In this case, Dr. Tran would need to sign the approval on the registration form or email his approval to the Center for Academic Services. A student desiring to enroll for more than 20 semester hours must secure, in addition to the above signatures, approval from the Center for Academic Services.
In the semester or summer term of graduation, a student with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 may take extra hours with the approval of the adviser, chairperson, director, or dean and approval from the Center for Academic Services. Finally, a student may take seven (7) semester hours each summer term or a maximum of 14 semester hours without restrictions. With the written approval of the Center for Academic Services, a student who has earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all work may take extra hours.
- 11. I switched majors but my a new advisor wasn't assigned. What should I do? In general, you are not automatically assigned a new adviser when you suddenly switch your major. You must notify the previous adviser that you switched majors. You then should obtain your folder from your previous adviser and bring it to your new adviser. When you meet with your new adviser, have him/her change advisership in the system (e.g., Internet Native Banner). For neuroscience majors/minors, the change occurs during your meeting with Dr. Tran.
- 12. What is a "class restriction" and how come I can't register for certain research courses such as NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312 or PSYC 4315? A class restriction means that you are taking a course above your current classification. For example, a freshman student trying to enroll in a 4000-level course is not allowed to do so without approval from the department. Students are allowed to enroll in courses one level above their classification. Since you are trying to enroll in a 4000-level course, you must obtain permission from the department offering the course, as well as your major department (if different). The listed research courses were originally designed for students at least in their junior year. However, under certain circumstances (e.g., your mentor requires your services immediately and you happen to be a freshman), this restriction may be lifted. You need to discuss this with Dr. Tran beforehand to get the restriction lifted.
- 13. Can I conduct research with a mentor who is outside of neuroscience or a neuroscience-related field such as Chemistry, Emergency Medicine, or Physical Therapy?
Yes. However, do consult with Dr. Tran beforehand to confirm whether it is feasible and which research course (NEUR 4201, PSYC 4312, or PSYC 4315) would be applicable. A contract is still needed (see FAQ #3).
- 14. When do I arrange a meeting for advising and registration for the following semester's courses?
Advising week is normally scheduled in mid-October and mid-March. See the current semester in the university calendar here.
Dr. Tran will email solicitations for reserving a meeting for advising/registration the week before these dates. If you
are on the neuroscience email distribution list, then you will be notified. If you are uncertain whether you are on
the mailing list, then notify Dr. Tran and request to be added. You will know whether you're on the list or not if you receive regular program announcements and news.
PINS will only be given to students that have met with Dr. Tran during advising week, unless their schedules were pre-approved during a prior meeting. For all other matters not related to registration, then contact Dr. Tran to arrange for a meeting.
- 15. How do I get my registration PIN? See #14 above.
- 16. What is proper email etiquette for corresponding with professors, staff, and other adults outside your circle of friends?
Recommendation 1: Start your email with "Dr./Ms. or Mr./Professor __________," and end it with "Sincerely", "Regards", or "Thanks/Thank you" and your name.
Recommendation 2: Avoid texting/IM/street language, spell-check questionable words, and apply proper grammar before you submit your email.
Recommendation 3: Avoid capitalizing entire words (unless necessary) as this exudes a negative emotional tone.
Recommendation 4: Be careful of what you say. If it doesn't need to be expressed, then it's best not expressed.
- 17. How do grade replacements work?
See the Academic Advising website: http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/advising/gradereplacements.cfm
- 18. How do drop or add a course after the regular Drop/Add period expires?
Contact me for a "Schedule Change Form" and indicate exactly which class (course number and section) you want to change. After I sign it, then I'll notify you about picking it up. Afterwards, you submit it to the Registrar's Office. For additional exceptions and conditions, see the Registrar's website.