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2021 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admissions Results


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This may be controversial: I don't think that it's worth investing your heart and soul into the Ivies or the UC's. For domestic & international students alike, it's a game of 3D chess to determine

I’m not so sure about this. I was under the impression that most admissions committees (for PhD at least, med school is a completely different story) really only care about research experiences and ac

Declined my offers and accepted my top school! Very excited, officially going to start my PhD journey this fall. Good luck to you all! Sending so many good vibes.

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On 11/18/2020 at 5:54 PM, neurolingr said:

Personally, getting excited/nervous! I am going to submit my apps next week before the December 1st deadline, since my final LOR should be in by the end of this week. With COVID, I have been working on these for so long so I am excited to just get them submitted and have that aspect over with! Then, the waiting game  begins 😬! How about you @puppiesandyoga31?

Just submitted my final application yesterday. I told all my letter writers back in September that I needed the letters by Nov 1st, the latest letter got submitted Nov 4 (and that was only because we had a hurricane right before Halloween that knocked out power for many people for 3-6 days). Feels good to have them in so I can focus on wrapping up my final semester of undergrad (I graduate in less than 3 weeks-w00t)

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I've submitted all my applications and everything including LoRs are turned in. However, I'm very anxious about my chances. My PI thinks I'm a competitive candidate but, I am sure she is biased. So, I thought I would have some unbiased opinions. According to random chance (1-(.85)^9) I should be able to get into at least 1 of these programs about 77% of the time (.85 is the average % of all 9 programs rejection rate). But we all know that this isn't up to random chance. 

Background: I am a US Citizen. I feel very confident about my SoP. I've had that looked over by dozens of Profs and PhD students who have told me it is solid. I have contacted potential PIs at these programs. They have all said my research interests aligns with their labs and that they do have a spot in this coming cycle. The warmest response I have received was that they look forward to seeing my application - I am sure they say this to everyone though. 

Undergrad: Top 5 Liberal Arts College - BA in Biology 

GPA: 3.4

Research Experience:

  • RA senior year in a neuro lab
  • TA from sophomore year to senior year in both neuro and bio courses and labs 
  • Study abroad research semester 
  • Two year NIMH funded post bac research scientist (neuro lab) 

Posters: Presented 5 posters - All first author and several were international (including several SfN). 

Publications: First-authored manuscript submitted for review 

LORs: Two tenured Profs in neuro, and the other one from a PhD Lab instructor (bio). I have worked closely with all three and believe them to be strong LoR.

Applying to: Neuro Programs at: Weill Cornell, Princeton, UPenn, Northwestern, UW Madison, UCLA, NYU, Vanderbilt, and CUNY.

Edited by AnxiousNeuroKitty
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Anyone else thinks that UCSD's statement of purpose and "research experience" statement is way too confusing compared to the rest of the schools? It's hard to know what exactly they want in the SOP that isn't already in the research experience statement. It makes it so difficult to adapt what you've already written and you have to write something almost completely to fit their prompts. Bleh

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Hope everyone's applications are going smooth! I contacted a few PIs before the deadline (specifically the UPenn NGG program) and asked to meet, and a couple of them got back to me. However, they proposed dates that are after the deadline. Ofc I still said yes. Now these meetings are coming up, and I'm feeling a bit confused - are these considered mini-interviews then? Should I treat these as in normal interviews?

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so....
does anyone have info about whether there will be less incoming openings in the UC neurograd programs due to fewer current students leaving than usual? Wondering if this application cycle will be more competitive due to covid funding and space constraints.

Edited by lowestprime
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13 hours ago, lowestprime said:

so....
does anyone have info about whether there will be less incoming openings in the UC neurograd programs due to fewer current students leaving than usual? Wondering if this application cycle will be more competitive due to covid funding and space constraints.

I heard from one of my programs that they will have less spots than normal due to covid funding issues, and this would likely be the case for other programs as well. As far as the applicant pool, I would assume it would be more competitive this year but I really don't know that. This thread is pretty dead for it being December already...

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17 hours ago, snowbabyjia said:

Hope everyone's applications are going smooth! I contacted a few PIs before the deadline (specifically the UPenn NGG program) and asked to meet, and a couple of them got back to me. However, they proposed dates that are after the deadline. Ofc I still said yes. Now these meetings are coming up, and I'm feeling a bit confused - are these considered mini-interviews then? Should I treat these as in normal interviews?

Treat them however you'd like- they won't affect your admission. Be courteous, respectful, and engaged.

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15 hours ago, lowestprime said:

so....
does anyone have info about whether there will be less incoming openings in the UC neurograd programs due to fewer current students leaving than usual? Wondering if this application cycle will be more competitive due to covid funding and space constraints.

I am applying to UCSF and UC Davis, so I can only comment about those two. During a few sessions and talking to a PI of interest, it seems they will accepting the same number of students as usual. My PI I have been talking with at UC Davis is not on the application review committee, but made it seem as if space will be the same. Just no "in-person" interview weekends (obviously due to the COVID-19)...

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1 hour ago, neurolingr said:

I am applying to UCSF and UC Davis, so I can only comment about those two. During a few sessions and talking to a PI of interest, it seems they will accepting the same number of students as usual. My PI I have been talking with at UC Davis is not on the application review committee, but made it seem as if space will be the same. Just no "in-person" interview weekends (obviously due to the COVID-19)...

Thanks for the solid info,

I wonder how they're still able to maintain the normal number of openings despite the potential impact of covid on funding/new openings (i.e. less current students leaving the program due to covid stalling research progress).

Edited by lowestprime
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1 hour ago, lowestprime said:

Thanks for the solid info,

I wonder how they're still able to maintain the normal number of openings despite the potential impact of covid on funding/new openings (i.e. less current students leaving the program due to covid stalling research progress).

I attended a SfN info session and they had a panel of admission people on it from different programs (on top of my head I think it was WashU, Harvard, Northwestern and a few others). They all said that they will be admitting the same amount of people as they usually do and that PhD student funding is not a very large percentage of their budget and that they would have no problem funding the usual number of students. That made me feel better when I heard that. Obviously, this is only about the schools that were on this panel but they made it seem like a lot of schools would also be able to do this. 

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1 hour ago, beardedlabrat said:

I'd love to hear where everyone is applying! Or if you don't feel comfortable sharing that, what research areas you are all interested.

UCSF, UCLA, UCSD
Multiomic neurodevelopmental psychiatric research to inform the development of precision subdiagnoses, endophenotypes, and therapeutic interventions (especially for ADHD, ASD, and SCZ)

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8 hours ago, lnrnlds said:

I attended a SfN info session and they had a panel of admission people on it from different programs (on top of my head I think it was WashU, Harvard, Northwestern and a few others). They all said that they will be admitting the same amount of people as they usually do and that PhD student funding is not a very large percentage of their budget and that they would have no problem funding the usual number of students. That made me feel better when I heard that. Obviously, this is only about the schools that were on this panel but they made it seem like a lot of schools would also be able to do this. 

I'm a current PhD student at an R1 and I'm just going to head this off before someone else does (it's going to come out very soon) but most programs this year are looking at huge increases in the number of applicants. I was in a friend's defense and the faculty at one Ivy were saying they saw double the number of applicants (possibly an exaggeration) as last year. You might hear this too. DO NOT PANIC. I have also chatted with professors in my department and schools saw this same thing happen in the cycle during the Great Recession and to paraphrase them, "the numbers went way up but the competitiveness stayed the same". In other words, a lot of people right now are applying on a whim in their senior years because the job market seems so bleak but this isn't necessarily more competition since most/all of you have been prepping to go to grad school for a few years already. Individuals who are deciding to apply now because of these circumstances can't make up for the years of research they haven't put in (and presumably you have).

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On 11/24/2020 at 4:18 PM, AnxiousNeuroKitty said:

 

I've submitted all my applications and everything including LoRs are turned in. However, I'm very anxious about my chances. My PI thinks I'm a competitive candidate but, I am sure she is biased. So, I thought I would have some unbiased opinions. According to random chance (1-(.85)^9) I should be able to get into at least 1 of these programs about 77% of the time (.85 is the average % of all 9 programs rejection rate). But we all know that this isn't up to random chance. 

Background: I am a US Citizen. I feel very confident about my SoP. I've had that looked over by dozens of Profs and PhD students who have told me it is solid. I have contacted potential PIs at these programs. They have all said my research interests aligns with their labs and that they do have a spot in this coming cycle. The warmest response I have received was that they look forward to seeing my application - I am sure they say this to everyone though. 

Undergrad: Top 5 Liberal Arts College - BA in Biology 

GPA: 3.4

Research Experience:

  • RA senior year in a neuro lab
  • TA from sophomore year to senior year in both neuro and bio courses and labs 
  • Study abroad research semester 
  • Two year NIMH funded post bac research scientist (neuro lab) 

Posters: Presented 5 posters - All first author and several were international (including several SfN). 

Publications: First-authored manuscript submitted for review 

LORs: Two tenured Profs in neuro, and the other one from a PhD Lab instructor (bio). I have worked closely with all three and believe them to be strong LoR.

Applying to: Neuro Programs at: Weill Cornell, Princeton, UPenn, Northwestern, UW Madison, UCLA, NYU, Vanderbilt, and CUNY.

I attend an R1 (top 25) program and I can say that your professor is right: you are competitive for many of these schools. I have friends at half of these schools and you are right there up with them and perhaps above most. 

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3 minutes ago, ManifoldsAreMadeUp said:

I'm a current PhD student at an R1 and I'm just going to head this off before someone else does (it's going to come out very soon) but most programs this year are looking at huge increases in the number of applicants. I was in a friend's defense and the faculty at one Ivy were saying they saw double the number of applicants (possibly an exaggeration) as last year. You might hear this too. DO NOT PANIC. I have also chatted with professors in my department and schools saw this same thing happen in the cycle during the Great Recession and to paraphrase them, "the numbers went way up but the competitiveness stayed the same". In other words, a lot of people right now are applying on a whim in their senior years because the job market seems so bleak but this isn't necessarily more competition since most/all of you have been prepping to go to grad school for a few years already. Individuals who are deciding to apply now because of these circumstances can't make up for the years of research they haven't put in (and presumably you have).

Holy sh*t, you're the real mvp. Thank you so much for this valuable information.

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On 7/3/2020 at 3:59 PM, BnTAcT said:

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?

The behavioral neuroscience program is extremely small (I think maybe low single-digit cohort sizes) and a direct admit to professors working with MRI/fMRI. It's not new and BU actually has something like six or seven neuroscience programs (GPN (and Comp Neuro specialization), A&N, BBC, Bio (neurobio), Health Sciences, Behavioral Neuro, and Pharm (they can swing into GPN through this program) it's kind of ridiculous. 

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15 hours ago, beardedlabrat said:

I'd love to hear where everyone is applying! Or if you don't feel comfortable sharing that, what research areas you are all interested.

I'm interested in identifying vision-related biomarkers in TBI/ABI, action blindsight, and sensory substitution technology for vision rehabilitation and neurorehabilitation. 

P.S. Glad to see so much activity in this thread again. Best of luck with everyone's applications! 

Edited by swtster
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10 hours ago, ManifoldsAreMadeUp said:

I attend an R1 (top 25) program and I can say that your professor is right: you are competitive for many of these schools. I have friends at half of these schools and you are right there up with them and perhaps above most. 

Thank you! Honestly I hoped this would quell my anxiety but still just as anxious. Guess I’ll have to wait and see it manifest to believe. Thank you so much for your kind words 

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