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2021 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admissions Results


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11 hours ago, neuroticneuro6 said:

I know it's early but...is it ever really too early to start a community so we can all help each other out with this crazy process?  I don't know about all of you, but applying this year is all I can think about. 

Same. Thanks for starting this thread. 

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How many schools are you all applying to? I've heard so many horror stories of people not being accepted places that I have a list of 17 schools right now. I am trying to narrow it down (mostly for cost's sake, as the app fees add up to $1600), but I don't want to undershoot it 😥

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I applied this round (for 2020 fall admissions) good luck you guys! Also just want to throw this out there - Drexel's College of Medicine is a good program that is often overlooked! Check it out if you want to and again good luck to you all! ❤️

 

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On 2/12/2020 at 2:29 PM, neuroticneuro6 said:

How many schools are you all applying to? I've heard so many horror stories of people not being accepted places that I have a list of 17 schools right now. I am trying to narrow it down (mostly for cost's sake, as the app fees add up to $1600), but I don't want to undershoot it 😥

The trick is to have an appropriate range of schools. I applied to 10 and it ended up being too many. Unless you have the money to spend, don't bother. Just make sure every school you apply to has at least 3 faculty you'd be excited to work with. 

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On 2/12/2020 at 2:29 PM, neuroticneuro6 said:

How many schools are you all applying to? I've heard so many horror stories of people not being accepted places that I have a list of 17 schools right now. I am trying to narrow it down (mostly for cost's sake, as the app fees add up to $1600), but I don't want to undershoot it 😥

I also applied this round (Fall 2020), still waiting for a few programs to reject me. I've heard many programs have double numbers of applicants since they dropped the GRE requirement. 

I applied to 12, maybe too many for a domestic applicant but not enough for an international student.

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On 2/13/2020 at 11:08 PM, swtster said:

My research interests are incredibly specific and very niche so I don't imagine myself applying to more than a handful of programs. I actually only have 2 in mind at the moment.

Do you mind me asking how you found such a niche topic of interest? I’m only just finishing my undergraduate (i graduate may 2021) and I have specific things I’d like to study, but it’s a lot less narrowed down than a lot of other people.  

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11 hours ago, neuroticneuro6 said:

Do you mind me asking how you found such a niche topic of interest? I’m only just finishing my undergraduate (i graduate may 2021) and I have specific things I’d like to study, but it’s a lot less narrowed down than a lot of other people.  

Well, it's a bit unfair because I have a professional degree and postdoctoral training. I've been working for a few years already and it was a culmination of my background and my experiences that lead me to my current research interests. 

However, maybe I can give you some insight into how to narrow down your choices. I decided on my current labs of interests for the following reasons:

1) I want to do translational research that can be applied clinically. 

2) I prefer to work with human data as opposed to animal models. 

3) I'm comfortable with various imaging techniques and I want to utilize imaging in my research. 

4) I'm pretty forward thinking and I believe that computational and coding abilities are good skills to have so I want to be able to incorporate computational models in my research, if possible. 

5) My ultimate goal is to work in a research hospital where I can work as a research-clinician. So, I want to be in a lab with current research-clinicians to get a better sense of what that would be like for myself in the future. 

 So, to summarize:

1. Think about what research modality you're comfortable with. For me, I'm not comfortable working with animal models. 

2. What skills do you have that you feel would help you in your intended research? Will you be able to utilize those skills in the labs you choose? 

3. What skills do you hope to gain through your research? Which program will provide you the best mentor to help you develop those skills? 

4. What question(s) do you intend to answer with your research and does your chosen lab have the resources to help you find those answers? 

5. What do you want to do in the end with your degree? Do the faculty in your chosen program reflect what you hope to achieve professionally? 

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On 2/16/2020 at 9:54 AM, swtster said:

Well, it's a bit unfair because I have a professional degree and postdoctoral training. I've been working for a few years already and it was a culmination of my background and my experiences that lead me to my current research interests. 

However, maybe I can give you some insight into how to narrow down your choices. I decided on my current labs of interests for the following reasons:

1) I want to do translational research that can be applied clinically. 

2) I prefer to work with human data as opposed to animal models. 

3) I'm comfortable with various imaging techniques and I want to utilize imaging in my research. 

4) I'm pretty forward thinking and I believe that computational and coding abilities are good skills to have so I want to be able to incorporate computational models in my research, if possible. 

5) My ultimate goal is to work in a research hospital where I can work as a research-clinician. So, I want to be in a lab with current research-clinicians to get a better sense of what that would be like for myself in the future. 

 So, to summarize:

1. Think about what research modality you're comfortable with. For me, I'm not comfortable working with animal models. 

2. What skills do you have that you feel would help you in your intended research? Will you be able to utilize those skills in the labs you choose? 

3. What skills do you hope to gain through your research? Which program will provide you the best mentor to help you develop those skills? 

4. What question(s) do you intend to answer with your research and does your chosen lab have the resources to help you find those answers? 

5. What do you want to do in the end with your degree? Do the faculty in your chosen program reflect what you hope to achieve professionally? 

This was an incredibly helpful response, thank you. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I applied this past fall but pretty much flopped because I had no idea what I was doing. I'm hoping staying up to date with r/gradadmissions and GradCafe help a bit with figuring this shit out -- it's hard!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm trying to figure out everything too! I'm still wondering if we'll be forced to take GRE for those of us applying to schools requiring GRE for grad programs (ie Columbia GSAS) given the COVID-19 pandemic chaos.

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11 hours ago, dopamine_machine said:

I'm trying to figure out everything too! I'm still wondering if we'll be forced to take GRE for those of us applying to schools requiring GRE for grad programs (ie Columbia GSAS) given the COVID-19 pandemic chaos.

Same concerns about changing requirements for GRE here - thanks for raising the issue, and let's keep one another posted!

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Apparently the GRE is being offered remotely due to COVID-19.  I checked their website and you can actually take the exam online in the presence of online proctors for the exam, so I guess you don't need to go in person to the exam center to take the GRE.

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On 3/12/2020 at 7:55 PM, Colors of Dinos said:

I applied this past fall but pretty much flopped because I had no idea what I was doing. I'm hoping staying up to date with r/gradadmissions and GradCafe help a bit with figuring this shit out -- it's hard!

Would you mind posting a little bit about your experiences and qualifications etc? 

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Hi all, 

I know it's a bit early to be posting admissions profile, especially with all the turmoil going on in the world.  However, I thought I might as well ask how strong my application would be if I were to apply for the 2021 PhD cycle!

Undergrad: UCSD Neuroscience and Physiology major; Studied abroad at UCL (Biological Arts and Sciences)

GPA: 3.76; major GPA 3.78; senior GPA 4.0 (likely cum laude)

GRE: Haven't taken yet; unsure if can/will

Research experience:

  • 3 years of work as a Lab tech in a prominent neuroscience lab at the Salk Institute.  
  • Wet Lab: learned a lot of skills, such as tissue culture, protein/DNA/RNA related work (gels, WB, PCR, etc), immunofluorescent/immunohistochemical staining, histology (cryostat/microtome), perfusion/tissue collection, protocol optimisation
  • Dry Lab: Learned basic R programming, Figure Creation for papers, Imaris, Confocal Imaging, Fluorescent Microscopy, ImageJ
  • Have previous experience working with mice colonies, and experience working with most types of neuronal cells
  • I've worked in developmental neuroscience, as well as on studies pertaining to Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Alzheimer's.

Publications:

  • My old boss is almost finished with revising a paper that needed revision after submission to Science last year, on which I am a first author
  • Two scientists I have worked under are in the process of generating papers, but have not yet submitted any for review

Awards/Honors: 

  • Just some basic things like Provost's Honors (Dean's List) every year, College Honors ceremony award, and a couple other smaller honors awards

Extracurricular Activities:

  • I have acquired approximately 120 hours interning in two different hospitals (one of which is a highly competitive program with <8% acceptance).  I've worked in the Emergency Department, Surgical Acute ward, and Neurological Progressive Care ward (mostly dementia/epileptic/spinal problems).
  • I was secretary of a club (Project Kilimanjaro) for one year.  The club's mission was to inform people of the HIV and Trachoma (leading global cause of preventable blindness) epidemics in the Maasai villages of Tanzania at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, in addition to secure first aid and clean drinking water for such communities.  The club helped fundraise and ultimately allowed certain members to go on a 2-week service trip to Tanzania.

LOR: I hope to secure a strong LOR from my PI (a prominent scientist in the neuroscience field).  I work under a senior staff scientist, who is leaving my current lab to become a PI at UCSD, so I will likely ask her for a LOR as well.  I also am in the midst of securing an LOR from a distinguished professor who I have taken 2 upper-division physiology courses with and knows me very well.  I might ask an old post-doc in my lab for a LOR, as he moved to a different country to become a PI.

Personal statement: I plan on drafting it in the next few months and asking my current/previous bosses and LORs to read it, so it will likely be pretty solid.

Planned Applications (will probably decrease later): Harvard, Columbia, UCL, UCSF, JHU, NYU, Univ of Washington, Cornell Weill, UCSD, Rockefeller, Icahn, University of Pittsburgh, Boston University

Let me know if you think I have anything to improve on before applying for the Fall 2021, or any advice you have if you applied for the 2020 PhD cycle! I am currently debating whether or not to take the GRE and am looking for advice.  Thanks! :) 

Edited by dopamine_machine
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On 2/12/2020 at 2:29 PM, neuroticneuro6 said:

How many schools are you all applying to? I've heard so many horror stories of people not being accepted places that I have a list of 17 schools right now. I am trying to narrow it down (mostly for cost's sake, as the app fees add up to $1600), but I don't want to undershoot it 😥

Be sure to check the FAQ sections of the websites to see if you are eligible for fee waivers, and if you are unsure, it doesn't hurt to email and ask! I attended ABRCMS so received fee waivers through that, although I heard some members of my cohort also received waivers by attending SFN. Best of luck! 

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On 3/27/2020 at 8:25 PM, dopamine_machine said:

Hi all, 

I know it's a bit early to be posting admissions profile, especially with all the turmoil going on in the world.  However, I thought I might as well ask how strong my application would be if I were to apply for the 2021 PhD cycle!

Undergrad: UCSD Neuroscience and Physiology major; Studied abroad at UCL (Biological Arts and Sciences)

GPA: 3.76; major GPA 3.78; senior GPA 4.0 (likely cum laude)

GRE: Haven't taken yet; unsure if can/will

Research experience:

  • 3 years of work as a Lab tech in a prominent neuroscience lab at the Salk Institute.  
  • Wet Lab: learned a lot of skills, such as tissue culture, protein/DNA/RNA related work (gels, WB, PCR, etc), immunofluorescent/immunohistochemical staining, histology (cryostat/microtome), perfusion/tissue collection, protocol optimisation
  • Dry Lab: Learned basic R programming, Figure Creation for papers, Imaris, Confocal Imaging, Fluorescent Microscopy, ImageJ
  • Have previous experience working with mice colonies, and experience working with most types of neuronal cells
  • I've worked in developmental neuroscience, as well as on studies pertaining to Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Alzheimer's.

Publications:

  • My old boss is almost finished with revising a paper that needed revision after submission to Science last year, on which I am a first author
  • Two scientists I have worked under are in the process of generating papers, but have not yet submitted any for review

Awards/Honors: 

  • Just some basic things like Provost's Honors (Dean's List) every year, College Honors ceremony award, and a couple other smaller honors awards

Extracurricular Activities:

  • I have acquired approximately 120 hours interning in two different hospitals (one of which is a highly competitive program with <8% acceptance).  I've worked in the Emergency Department, Surgical Acute ward, and Neurological Progressive Care ward (mostly dementia/epileptic/spinal problems).
  • I was secretary of a club (Project Kilimanjaro) for one year.  The club's mission was to inform people of the HIV and Trachoma (leading global cause of preventable blindness) epidemics in the Maasai villages of Tanzania at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, in addition to secure first aid and clean drinking water for such communities.  The club helped fundraise and ultimately allowed certain members to go on a 2-week service trip to Tanzania.

LOR: I hope to secure a strong LOR from my PI (a prominent scientist in the neuroscience field).  I work under a senior staff scientist, who is leaving my current lab to become a PI at UCSD, so I will likely ask her for a LOR as well.  I also am in the midst of securing an LOR from a distinguished professor who I have taken 2 upper-division physiology courses with and knows me very well.  I might ask an old post-doc in my lab for a LOR, as he moved to a different country to become a PI.

Personal statement: I plan on drafting it in the next few months and asking my current/previous bosses and LORs to read it, so it will likely be pretty solid.

Planned Applications (will probably decrease later): Harvard, Columbia, UCL, UCSF, JHU, NYU, Univ of Washington, Cornell Weill, UCSD, Rockefeller, Icahn, University of Pittsburgh, Boston University

Let me know if you think I have anything to improve on before applying for the Fall 2021, or any advice you have if you applied for the 2020 PhD cycle! I am currently debating whether or not to take the GRE and am looking for advice.  Thanks! :) 

Unless you want to apply to any schools that require the GRE, don't bother. Your application is fine without it 

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  • 1 month later...

Hello all-

What are everyone’s thoughts on taking the GRE? None of the schools I’m applying to require it and half of them don’t let you submit scores. I’m wondering if I should take it and submit scores to the ones that do take it (but don’t require it) just to have an extra notch on my application? I have a higher undergrad GPA (3.99), so I don’t need it to make up for that. But my top pick is Harvard so I’m wondering if I should submit it anyway to give myself the best shot? 

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Posted (edited)

Hello all, 

I am a recent admit to a neuroscience PhD program at the University of Oregon. 

I have made a google drive with resources for those applying or interested in graduate school. Part of this drive is a comprehensive list of successful applicant profiles. There are 10 profiles currently but I have many request for contributions so I will be updating it as people finish their profiles. I also have a resource folder that I update every once in awhile.  

 

Here is a link to the drive

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pKybuYESJ4fgCYnEOMiD6GX1B4lKy9rM

 

Here is a link to the profiles

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1L76kOYyqDSCht45IG6kaw0dvutEj4bcz

 

If you would like to be directly shared or contribute a profile yourself, please PM me your gmail. If you have any question please PM me and I would be happy to answer. 

 

Cheers and goodluck! 

Edited by dopaboy
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6 hours ago, neuroticneuro6 said:

Hello all-

What are everyone’s thoughts on taking the GRE? None of the schools I’m applying to require it and half of them don’t let you submit scores. I’m wondering if I should take it and submit scores to the ones that do take it (but don’t require it) just to have an extra notch on my application? I have a higher undergrad GPA (3.99), so I don’t need it to make up for that. But my top pick is Harvard so I’m wondering if I should submit it anyway to give myself the best shot? 

Hey Neuroticneuro6,

Only a few programs that I know of require GRE, such as MIT BGS, NYU Neuro, and Boston University GPN.  While I am not sure, I'd assume not requiring a GRE largely signifies that the admissions committee does not place too much emphasis on those scores.  GRE is mostly used as a prediction of one's ability to take graduate level classes; thus, as you already have a stellar GPA, I wouldn't worry about adding standardized testing to strengthen this portion of your academic profile.

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Posted (edited)

Hi all, 

I am also wondering if my profile will be sufficient for the programs I am interested in, or if I should wait a year to really boost it. I want to know if I'm underestimating or overestimating myself, since so many people here have posted stellar profiles! 

Undergrad: Neuroscience and Statistics double major at an HYP Ivy.

GPA 3.94 

GRE: Have not taken GRE

Research Experience:

  1. None freshman year (I was an applied math major lol)
  2. Research assistantship in a biological psychiatry lab during sophomore spring, followed by an independent research project in the same lab.
  3. Switched to a reinforcement learning primate lab junior year where I was an assistant in the fall and did an independent modeling project this spring. 
  4. Completed an independent deep learning research project with another undergrad for a graduate class this spring.
  5. Just finished a literature review on computational psychiatry for a clinical neuroscience seminar.

I have no publications--neither of the labs I've worked in have published in the past two years. I had a poster for my sophomore project, which won 2nd place at an undergraduate symposium. In, 2,3, 4, and 5, however, I have written full research papers but the substance was likely not enough to submit for publication.

Future research:

This summer, I am remotely working in a neuroengineering lab at Emory. I will also be working on a literature review with my Neuroscience PI.

Next year, I will be continuing my spring RL project as my thesis, and likely doing some computational research for my Stats thesis in a related topic. 

Awards / Honors:

2 school fellowships for independent research. 

Extracurriculars:

I was an EMT for a semester, and proctored the school's training course. I founded a music group freshman year, managed it up to this semester, and was a member of a few others. A few other unimportant ones to this discussion.

Others:

I have taken 3 graduate level classes with relevant topics to my application.

LORs: 

Research PI, Professor with whom I took two classes (one graduate, one the clinical neuroscience seminar mentioned previously), and Post-Doc/Prof from Sophomore Lab. I haven't yet asked them, but I believe they will all be strong. 

I have not drafted my SOP yet but have a strong concept.

Applications: Princeton (QCN, joint PhD in CS), CMU (joint Neuro/ML PhD), UCL, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT are my top choices, and I have a shortlist of professors for all. 

 

I'm asking because these are super competitive programs, and I know finishing senior year before applying would really help my application, by strengthening experience, letters of rec, and a more clear reserach interest. Also, I could potentially submit my lit review to an undergraduate journal, would this help at all? 

If I didn't apply this round, I would still be applying for master's and post-graduate fellowships. Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

Edited by atlai21
added lor sentence
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On 2/15/2020 at 6:59 PM, neuroticneuro6 said:

Do you mind me asking how you found such a niche topic of interest? I’m only just finishing my undergraduate (i graduate may 2021) and I have specific things I’d like to study, but it’s a lot less narrowed down than a lot of other people.  

Don't worry about not being that narrowed down -- the good thing about most neuro programs is that they're rotation based and do a lot of broad coursework in the first year. If you have some specific things you're interested in, choose to apply to schools that have a good basis in that general topic but are also solid programmatically. You may find your interests shift over the course of your rotations. As long as you have some idea it's seriously fine! 

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  • 1 month later...

Hey Everyone! 

Have any of y'all heard about the PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience at Boston University? 

I haven't seen anything about it on this site and I think it looks fascinating. 

Is it a newer program?

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