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2019 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admission Results


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8 minutes ago, HawaiiLee808 said:

I just got back from my interviews at Carnegie Mellon and I interviewed with 10 faculty for 30 minutes each. IMO it really depends on the faculty member as to how intense or chill the interview will be. I also think that they are less trying to assess your ability (although I had one friend asked to solve some differential equations on the board) than to assess that fit and your level of scientific maturity. They all asked me to explain my research and long-term goals and would probe me deeper about them until they were satisfied. I will warn that if you at all say something about a subfield that they understand well, I had several professors attempt to drag me into deep water but I have 7 years of experience in neuroscience so I was able to keep up. If you say something incorrect, some professors will try to corner you with the phrase "define what you mean by that" so be very careful with what you say. Several other interviewees were pretty shook by a few interviews they had because they're not used to the types of professors that will put it to you straight. There was also a professor here that hates hates brown-nosers and would tear apart anyone who he suspected of trying to do that. Try to talk to the grad students ahead of time to figure out which are the tough professors but I think that made it even more difficult because it makes you more anxious/on edge.

A lot didn't care that my research interests were entirely different from their's at all and also I think appreciated that I didn't pretend to be interested in their work when I was not. I think professors are great at sensing if you're not being forthright or are being hand-wavy. They also didn't expect that I be familiar with their work although I've heard some professors will be offended if you hadn't read some of their best work (say their nature or nature neuro paper). One professor asked each why they did/didn't list him as their first choice for interview and I think that made them squirm.

 

58 minutes ago, _kb said:

To those who have already had interviews- what was your overall experience talking with faculty? did you find it to be an intimidating interrogation or more of a candid conversation? I am in the process of preparing some answers to obvious questions they may ask but I don't want to sound too scripted but I also don't want to sound unprepared. If anyone has any insight on this I would appreciate it! I'm super nervous lol 

Oh man 10 interviews sounds rough. I would say that the experience you had at that interview is not typical of most interviews.

I have had four interviews thus far and interviewed with 5 faculty at each-- all of which were very much more on the candid conversation end of things. The general format at all of these interviews was:

1) talk about your own research experience thus far. Some professors will ask you more in depth questions about this than others, but it was never them trying to trip me up on details, just a legitimate curiosity about the work. Questions are definitely a little more technical if you're talking to profs who are right in the same subfield that your research has been.

2) prof will tell you a little about their own work. Usually they don't expect you to know really in-depth about their stuff, but make sure you pay attention and ask questions. I think maybe a couple of the profs I interviewed with would ask me a question or two as part of this to make sure I was following and extrapolating off of what they were working on-- but for the most part they really just want to tell you about what they're doing and see that you're excited about it.

3) most of the profs will ask something about your long-term career goals. both "what do you want to be studying in grad school" and "what are your goals after grad school" type questions.

4) a surprising number of the interviewers wanted to give advice about choosing a graduate program and a lab and lots of perspective on how to know if a particular program is right for you (and often a bit of a pitch for their program). 

In summary, don't be afraid of the interviews. Just make sure you know your own research and a little bit about what the people you interview with do. The vast majority of them are not trying to quiz you or trip you up and just want to hear about/talk about cool science and make sure you're not a total whacko. 

As a bit of a disclaimer, I do neurodevelopment work, but am not applying to specifically neuro programs- but I have interviewed with many profs doing neuro work.

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Just got a call with an offer for the Brown Neuroscience PhD! With my gpa from undergrad being 3.27 (3.07 in major), i really wasn't too hopeful for this round of applications- But I'm ecstatic! 

Ugh I need to stop refreshing my email... my heart jumps every time i get a notification. stupid stores need to stop emailing me I DONT CARE ABOUT THE SALE YOU'RE HAVING I JUST WANNA GET INTO GRAD SCH

Ahahahah I'm accepted by Harvard PiN :)))))) So happy

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2 minutes ago, DevoLevo said:

 

Oh man 10 interviews sounds rough. I would say that the experience you had at that interview is not typical of most interviews.

I have had four interviews thus far and interviewed with 5 faculty at each-- all of which were very much more on the candid conversation end of things. The general format at all of these interviews was:

1) talk about your own research experience thus far. Some professors will ask you more in depth questions about this than others, but it was never them trying to trip me up on details, just a legitimate curiosity about the work. Questions are definitely a little more technical if you're talking to profs who are right in the same subfield that your research has been.

2) prof will tell you a little about their own work. Usually they don't expect you to know really in-depth about their stuff, but make sure you pay attention and ask questions. I think maybe a couple of the profs I interviewed with would ask me a question or two as part of this to make sure I was following and extrapolating off of what they were working on-- but for the most part they really just want to tell you about what they're doing and see that you're excited about it.

3) most of the profs will ask something about your long-term career goals. both "what do you want to be studying in grad school" and "what are your goals after grad school" type questions.

4) a surprising number of the interviewers wanted to give advice about choosing a graduate program and a lab and lots of perspective on how to know if a particular program is right for you (and often a bit of a pitch for their program). 

In summary, don't be afraid of the interviews. Just make sure you know your own research and a little bit about what the people you interview with do. The vast majority of them are not trying to quiz you or trip you up and just want to hear about/talk about cool science and make sure you're not a total whacko. 

As a bit of a disclaimer, I do neurodevelopment work, but am not applying to specifically neuro programs- but I have interviewed with many profs doing neuro work.

Wow thank you for breaking that down! That is more along the lines of what I've been hearing from my mentors about the process but it's good to know there's a spectrum of how difficult it could be. Best of luck to you! 

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6 minutes ago, DevoLevo said:

Oh man 10 interviews sounds rough. I would say that the experience you had at that interview is not typical of most interviews.

It was for CMU Biological Sciences and I also requested to do 2-3 more on the side so typically one wouldn't interview this many. Carnegie Mellon also allows one to interview and rotate under Pitt professors is why I added more.

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When I interviewed 2 weeks ago it was with 4 professors at 30 minutes each and definitely on the relaxed side. It wasn’t very intense, they just want to see that you know what you’ve done and what you want to make sure you will be a good fit. The interview I will be attending this week is 8, 7 with faculty and 1 with a graduate student. So I guess they are all variable, and the specific experience definitely depends on the person you interview with, but they seem more like a conversation than like a job interview or such. The average seems to be around 5 faculty from what I have seen and heard.

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Does anyone have any advice for interviews when I'm switching fields ? (I don't know a ton of neuro, but I have a very strong math background). I'm interviewing at a neuro program in a couple weeks and sadly unlike @HawaiiLee808 do not have 7 years of neuro experience (that is so impressive!!!!!). I'm getting a bit nervous since obviously the admissions committee saw what classes I took/my experience is not in neurobio so I'm kinda lost how I should deal with an interview if it as scary/disheartening as I have been hearing! 

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2 hours ago, _kb said:

To those who have already had interviews- what was your overall experience talking with faculty? did you find it to be an intimidating interrogation or more of a candid conversation? I am in the process of preparing some answers to obvious questions they may ask but I don't want to sound too scripted but I also don't want to sound unprepared. If anyone has any insight on this I would appreciate it! I'm super nervous lol 

I've interviewed so far at Penn, UCSF, and UNC. They've all been very casual and relaxed. Mostly they just asked me about my research experience and what I want to study in grad school, maybe another random question like why I applied to that school or where else I've applied, and then they'd spend the rest of the time telling me about their research and answering my questions.

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53 minutes ago, lil13 said:

Does anyone have any advice for interviews when I'm switching fields ? (I don't know a ton of neuro, but I have a very strong math background). I'm interviewing at a neuro program in a couple weeks and sadly unlike @HawaiiLee808 do not have 7 years of neuro experience (that is so impressive!!!!!). I'm getting a bit nervous since obviously the admissions committee saw what classes I took/my experience is not in neurobio so I'm kinda lost how I should deal with an interview if it as scary/disheartening as I have been hearing! 

I'd recommend knowing what you know and what you don't know; know well anything you've referenced on a CV or SoP because this is what the PIs will possibly grill you on. I think have thought a lot about why a PhD and why that particular institution. Also, why you are switching fields. If the school wasn't your top choice or you haven't done your homework on them, they'll be able to tell --- some will be nice about it but I have heard some be put-off by it. One girl I know was at Utah interviewing and didn't really know a ton about the program so one PI (who shall be unnamed) found out she was also interviewing at MIT and grilled the fuck out of her in public and said, "well if you think you're so good that you can go to MIT, then why are you even here wasting our time??" Unprofessional to say the least.

I have a strong background in math as well (undergrad B.S. and M.S. in applied math) so I can help prep you on computational neuroscience if you want especially if you tell me what types of research you are interested in. Especially if you can tell me what institution and PIs you are interviewing with.

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8 hours ago, _kb said:

Yeah that's a good idea, I have a mock interview planned with my current lab tomorrow and one on Friday with an old mentor so hopefully that helps calm my nerves. Yikes that sounds honestly terrifying and I hope that's not the case for all institutions but I will definitely prepare for the worst. Thanks again! 

It definitely is not the case for all institutions! It depends on your programs of interest but I had an entirely different interview experience at both of my interviews (one ivy league-waiting on response, another one-got accepted). Professors at both programs were friendly and passionate about their research and wanted to see if you were the same. Of course the general questions, "Why Neuroscience, why graduate school, why now?" all came up in conversation but it came off as a more casual probing because they didn't want you to be nervous. You still needed to give good answers, though. Make sure you channel your nerves into excitement for your research. Have a clear direction of what you want to study and where you want to be. You are not expected to know everything about your field, and be honest but inquisitive when you don't. My personal tip that I think got me my acceptance: read a paper of the professor's in advance and prepare very thoughtful questions that show you can think about the scientific process, see the bigger picture of research, while simultaneously allowing them to talk about themselves. You'll ask other questions as the natural conversation flows along, but have some prepared, with a pen and paper, for each interviewer. Avoid empty silence at all costs. They want someone that they can see themselves interacting with for ~5-6 years. Both interviews I ended up over-preparing, but that's not a bad thing.

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2 hours ago, kmg1112 said:

BU is taking 40 years off my life

Feeeel that! I work here currently and apparently the head of their pharmacy program or something left the position right before interview season so I heard that the coordinator for GPN has to also plan their recruitment as well which is probably why it's taking so long 

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8 minutes ago, eigenanxiety said:

re: Boston Univ

Not sure if someone else has said this, but PI's for GPN sent their picks at the end of last week, so I would expect interviews to come out this week or next. Don't stress!

Do you know if they're still planning on the Feb 24-26 interview weekend? Seems a bit of a tight fit.

Honestly this doesn't make me very confident in the BU GPN's administration. Something hinky's going on.

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9 minutes ago, fearfulocelot said:

Do you know if they're still planning on the Feb 24-26 interview weekend? Seems a bit of a tight fit.

Honestly this doesn't make me very confident in the BU GPN's administration. Something hinky's going on.

agreed..this is my top choice and i am starting to doubt everything lol

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1 hour ago, fearfulocelot said:

Do you know if they're still planning on the Feb 24-26 interview weekend? Seems a bit of a tight fit.

Honestly this doesn't make me very confident in the BU GPN's administration. Something hinky's going on.

along what @_kb said, there have been things outside of BU GPN administration's control this year. I'm hesitant to go into any more detail. 

IMO they should send out invites this week, so the Feb 24-26 interviews would be fine. Otherwise (if they send them next week for whatever reason), it would be a little tight, but not out of the question. 

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3 hours ago, kmg1112 said:

Does anyone know if Stony Brook has already done interview invites?

Not sure but I got a phone call to interview from a PI and an acceptance from around the 17th of Jan. I might be an early admit because of some scholarship I was internally nominated for. It's a small program so I have no idea if a wider-email will go out. Interview is March 1st (one day only)

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3 minutes ago, HawaiiLee808 said:

I just got an interview for Boston boiiisssss!! Interview weekend February the 25th to the 26th with an arrival on the 24th. This better not be a fuck-up like last year goddamn

Same here just got the email! Stoked!

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