Neuroscience Junior Qualifying Exam - Overview

2023-24 Qual Dates
The Neuroscience Qual will be offered on the following dates for the 2023-24 school year.
Fri, October 27-Mon, October 30
Fri, Jan 26-Mon, Jan 29
Fri, May 3-Mon, May 6


The Qualifying Examination at Reed is described in the Faculty Code as follows:

The objectives of the Qualifying Examination are (1) to gauge the student's mastery of their discipline, (2) to serve as a diagnostic aid in identifying weaknesses in the student's preparation for advanced study or thesis work in that discipline, (3) to assist the student in unifying their knowledge of a major field of study, and (4) to assist the major Department or Interdivisional Committee in assessing the effectiveness of its own program.   



Please note that you must have submitted your declaration of major form to the Registrar’s Office before taking this examination. The program requires that you should have completed 2 units in 300 level Neuroscience relevant courses including one offered by the Psychology Department and one offered by the Biology Department or have permission of the chair of the Neuroscience Committee before taking the Neuroscience Qual.

If, because of an impairment or disability, you need accommodation during any part of this qualifying exam, please contact the chair of the Neuroscience Committee.

The Faculty Code does not permit classifying a student as a senior until the Qualifying Examination has been passed. One cannot register for Senior Thesis (Neuro 470) or begin work on a thesis, even on an informal basis, until after you have passed the qualifying examination.



The Neuroscience qualifying exam takes place 3 times per year. It will take place on the first weekend after fall break, the first weekend of the spring term, and reading week of spring term.

During each offering of the qual, students gain access to the exam on Friday morning at 9:00 AM via Moodle.

  • The exam will begin on Friday at 9:00 AM.
  • The research proposal portion of the exam must be submitted on Moodle no later than Sunday at 11:55 PM
  • The quantitative portion of the exam must be submitted hard copy to Kristy Gonyer in B115 (Biology office) no later than Monday at noon.

These deadlines are firm and non-negotiable. Submitting your exam after the deadline will be considered a failed qual. Note that while the full exam is accessed via Moodle, a part of the exam is submitted in hard copy and a part of the exam is submitted via Moodle (details below).


There are two parts to the Neuroscience Qual:

 The research proposal portion of the qualifying exam requires students to select one paper topic from a list of 6-8 abstracts that are provided on Moodle. After selecting the topic students will gain access to the full article from which they will a 5-6 page research proposal related to that article (detailed instructions are provided with the abstracts). If, by chance, you have previously written or presented on one of these articles for a course, you may NOT choose that article for your qualifying exam. The proposal must be submitted via Moodle Sunday evening by 11:55 PM.


The quantitative portion of the qual includes 6-8 quantitative questions. The student will download the list of potential questions from Moodle, select two of these questions to answer, print those pages and turn their answer in as hard copy to Kristy Gonyer in the Biology office by noon on Monday.