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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 who they call to interview. More often than not, it's domestic students with connections and/or legacy. I feel for international students because they are going through rings of fire due to our current administration and the lack of available spots in the Ph.D pipeline throughout the U.S. Going to lesser known and/or top 50 programs, doing a killer job, then kicking ass in your postdoc may be the most secure route for now. I know that this is a path that non-traditional domestic students consider since we're also in a difficult position here when competing against your stereotypical "strong" applicants. Don't lose the faith and keep pushing for your dreams. It's going to happen one way or another. ❤️ 

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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

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.

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

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29 minutes ago, NutsaN said:

there are few professors who are doing the research that I'm interested in but I'm not sure about the program itself

No worries, I completely understand! I think the interview will be the perfect opportunity for you to figure out if the program is a great fit for you. 😊  Given that there are several professors who are doing research that interests you it seems like the program is, at least, a great research fit! Happy interviewing!!!

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Hey NutsaN!

Congrats on the PennState interview! I don't think you should worry about school rankings if there are your POIs there...
I'm also from a post-soviet country (but the biggest one), and it is my second application cycle. 
So, as I have been applying for almost two years, this is what I realized: 
being an international student, you shouldn't expect much from the very top schools (like Ivies and UC's)... Most of them have limited funding for internationals and can accept only a few, if not one, of them (I mean for a particular program). And, of course, they prefer international students having research experience in the US to those who have their research experience only outside the US. Especially if it's not a renowned university/institute... So if you really want to get into one of the top grad schools, I would suggest you find a RA position in the US to get some experience there. 

Also, have you applied only to 4 programs in the US?

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1 hour ago, Neuromantic said:

 It's going to happen one way or another. ❤️ 

Thank you so much! I knew that I had a little chance but I still wanted to try it and since I have had conversations with program heads and they've encouraged me to apply I thought I might have a chance but we'll see what other opportunities are coming on my way ❤️ 

33 minutes ago, Nightrestr said:

Also, have you applied only to 4 programs in the US?

 

Hey, I think you're from my neighboring country! Hint: I'm from the wine homeland 

Yes, I only applied to 4 programs since it was super expensive and most of them said I couldn't get the fee waiver, so I was pretty limited finance-wise. To be honest, in the summer I haven't had many hopes of getting into a top universities but as I went to their annual gradschool meetings and heard different inspiring stories from people I felt I had a shot. The program director at WUSTL even said that a person with my background would be a good fit for their program but now I think all of that was said solely out of politeness. It's especially hard for me because no one from my college program had gotten into a US PhD program before and from my generation (late gen-z/young millennials) only one girl managed to get into a UC PhD program and that was only after completing a masters degree in US. 

I have never thought about RA positions in US, any guides or tips and tricks? 

Thank you so much for your detailed answer, I wish you all the luck! 

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7 hours ago, NutsaN said:

At least UPenn was honest and they said: hey you know what you can apply of course but we're accepting only very small number of international applicants this year so don't get your hopes up if you'll apply

Nutsan, I am also from a post-Soviet country (from Russia, actually). Our scientific situation is more or less okay, but with neuroscience it is definitely not the same as in the US or UK. However, I am impressed by your stats and I think you should be competitive. My stats are not as good because I had some trouble figuring out who I wanted to be and have an undergraduate degree in law an a year of master's in international relations (but then, I am completing master's in cognitive neuroscience now). 

Still, I understand the committee members may look down on my stats, but I definitely do not understand why they treat you like that. I think there are many people here who apply to UPenn, though, (I didn't), so it should be a good school. And I think many schools in the US are better than the post-Soviet ones (strictly in terms of neuroscience, as this field is not that popular here, unlike physics or mathematics, let's say). 

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8 minutes ago, Just_Alice said:

And I think many schools in the US are better than the post-Soviet ones (strictly in terms of neuroscience, as this field is not that popular here, unlike physics or mathematics, let's say). 

Hey, I'm from Georgia! The situation is same here regarding physics and math, we have schools dedicated to these two only and many people who want to go on that path are kinda easily accepted into the top universities, however biology and chemistry is completely disregarded, no international contests or anything like that and neuroscience is almost nonexistent (especially what i'm interested in - molecular bio crossed with cognitive neuro) since funding is always scarce and as an undergrad I can't work at a lab and get paid well, so I have to balance myself with a different part-time jobs. 

I had some figuring out to do too. At first I started studying at a medical university (I was fascinated by psychiatry, university was totally shitty though) and after three years I've changed my major, started from the scratch and finally I'm graduating so don't worry, it took me 7 years to get a bachelors degree as u see. Also I think that Georgia is an unknow country in the US scientific-wise, especially when I'm studying at the university that was created only 7 years ago.

I wish you all the luck and hope you get accepted to the program of your desire, thank you for your response ❤️ 

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International applicant here, and this is my second round applying (got 3 interviews this time around, none last year). I do have a Bachelors from the US, a Masters from the UK, and 2.5 years RA experience at NYU. My PI did mention that it's particularly hard for international students at NYU this time around because a lot of funding got slashed, so they've reduced their international student intake / interviews. Really a bummer. 

To those who are applying from abroad who didn't get interviews, I'd suggest finding a RA position at a university in the US.. I think having LoR from here really really helps. Also, my stats aren't great. I have 0 pubs and 2 in prep, and didn't even do neuro for undergrad. I think it comes down to LoRs that people recognize, and then a lot of luck. At 2/3 of the places that I got an interview, I reached out to PI's for a meeting and had a half hour chat about their research and my interest in it. Sort of like a pre-interview.. and I think that that really helped put a face and a human behind a random application on a pile. 

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8 hours ago, NutsaN said:

 

I have never thought about RA positions in US, any guides or tips and tricks? 

Thank you so much for your detailed answer, I wish you all the luck! 

Definitely reach out directly to lab PIs for a RA position. I read up on every PI's research, then wrote a little paragraph about what I love about their work, my interests and that I'd love to join their lab. I tailored it to each PI, and applied to over 10 labs. I ended up with two interviews, and finally was offered an RA position. I used my time RAing to save up money to apply to 8 universities this round. Being international, it's especially a numbers game.. I applied to 3 last year and got 0 interviews. This time around I got 3 interviews out of 7 applications. 

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  • 11 hours ago, SalamNeuro said:

    Anyone knows if Stanford is still sending invitations???

    Yes, I just received a phone call from Stanford about 2 hours ago with an informal invitation to interview. So there is still hope!

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14 minutes ago, NeuroQween said:

Definitely reach out directly to lab PIs for a RA position. I read up on every PI's research, then wrote a little paragraph about what I love about their work, my interests and that I'd love to join their lab. I tailored it to each PI, and applied to over 10 labs. I ended up with two interviews, and finally was offered an RA position. I used my time RAing to save up money to apply to 8 universities this round. Being international, it's especially a numbers game.. I applied to 3 last year and got 0 interviews. This time around I got 3 interviews out of 7 applications. 

Thanks NeuroQween, this is a really interesting suggestion. However, I find it hard to imagine - how to apply for an RA position? I mean why would a lab higher someone living on a different continent?.. Also, I am not sure if I would be granted a visa in that case, and I would also have to live somewhere, and would money from RAing cover all the living expences?.. Here in Russia RA positions are not well paid, unfortunately, and one cannot get by on just one RA paycheck. 

If this would be feasible, I would love to follow your advice. If you would like to share your experience with regard to the aforementioned circumstances or just share some website maybe where you might have learned something about it, we would be tremendously greatful. Even though you cannot do any of the above, still, I am greatful for your advice and I will definitely look into it.

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18 minutes ago, NeuroQween said:

International applicant here, and this is my second round applying (got 3 interviews this time around, none last year). I do have a Bachelors from the US, a Masters from the UK, and 2.5 years RA experience at NYU. My PI did mention that it's particularly hard for international students at NYU this time around because a lot of funding got slashed, so they've reduced their international student intake / interviews. Really a bummer. 

To those who are applying from abroad who didn't get interviews, I'd suggest finding a RA position at a university in the US.. I think having LoR from here really really helps. Also, my stats aren't great. I have 0 pubs and 2 in prep, and didn't even do neuro for undergrad. I think it comes down to LoRs that people recognize, and then a lot of luck. At 2/3 of the places that I got an interview, I reached out to PI's for a meeting and had a half hour chat about their research and my interest in it. Sort of like a pre-interview.. and I think that that really helped put a face and a human behind a random application on a pile. 

Wow, that is really inspiring. Congrats on getting multiple interviews this year!

That's a bummer about NYU though. From what I saw in this thread it looks like NYU is done sending invites? There are a couple PIs I contacted there who expressed interest in my backgrounds and I would love to talk to, but I haven't received anything from NYU so far.

Also agreeing that LoR and connections that PIs can make for you are the most important thing, at least in my application packets. 

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23 minutes ago, Just_Alice said:

Thanks NeuroQween, this is a really interesting suggestion. However, I find it hard to imagine - how to apply for an RA position? I mean why would a lab higher someone living on a different continent?.. Also, I am not sure if I would be granted a visa in that case, and I would also have to live somewhere, and would money from RAing cover all the living expences?.. Here in Russia RA positions are not well paid, unfortunately, and one cannot get by on just one RA paycheck. 

If this would be feasible, I would love to follow your advice. If you would like to share your experience with regard to the aforementioned circumstances or just share some website maybe where you might have learned something about it, we would be tremendously greatful. Even though you cannot do any of the above, still, I am greatful for your advice and I will definitely look into it.

Hey! So I literally went to websites of universities I wanted to RA at, picked out labs I was interested in, read their latest papers and then emailed the PI directly (whether or not the website said they were hiring). I did this for like 10/15 labs at a few different institutions! The good thing is that universities can get you here on a J1 visa (research scholar) which is much easier than a H1B visa, and if the PI wants you, the HR team will do all the paperwork! I know quite a few other RAs that are international. Some PIs are really nice and realize that they have the power to give people who don’t otherwise have opportunities in their home country a chance in the US, and they want to see that you’re genuinely interested to learn and work more than how qualified you are. 
 

To be really specific here, My RA position pays $40,000 a year.. and I live pretty comfortably in New York with it. It also covers medical insurance. So i would definitely try to do this if I were you! 
 

Feel free to DM me if you have more questions :)

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17 minutes ago, snowbabyjia said:

Wow, that is really inspiring. Congrats on getting multiple interviews this year!

That's a bummer about NYU though. From what I saw in this thread it looks like NYU is done sending invites? There are a couple PIs I contacted there who expressed interest in my backgrounds and I would love to talk to, but I haven't received anything from NYU so far.

Also agreeing that LoR and connections that PIs can make for you are the most important thing, at least in my application packets. 

Seems like you got invites from some of the top schools despite being international! Congrats :) 

From what I know, NYU did send out invites (and it’s usually all in one go), but there’s a chance they send a few if people don’t accept the invites (this is what I was told). 

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3 hours ago, NeuroKween said:

 

To be really specific here, My RA position pays $40,000 a year.. and I live pretty comfortably in New York with it. It also covers medical insurance. So i would definitely try to do this if I were you! 
 

Feel free to DM me if you have more questions :)

I never thought that being a RA was a possibility, this is so cool! I'm gonna defo dm you one of these days and thank u ❤️ 

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9 hours ago, Moneuro said:

Hey, anyone knows how good or bad is the neuroscience program at The Ohio State University(OSU)? Is it a good university?

I'm not a neuro applicant, but my neuro professor got her degree from OSU and she did some really cool research on neurodevelopment while she was there. OSU is overall a great school for STEM fields (hence why I'm applying there for biochem).

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On 1/8/2021 at 12:32 PM, neuro_boy said:

The email did include my name, but bulk of it seemed generic. I was also a little thrown off since I applied for the PhD in Neuroscience Program, but in the email they thanked me for my interest in the PhD in Biomedical Sciences Program. 

I was so glad to see your post because the same thing happened to me!  I applied to the Neuroscience PhD Program and was invited to interview to the Biomedical Sciences PhD program at Mount Sinai.  After some neurotic investigation it seems the two programs have the same program coordinator, and since they are the only programs offered I think they may just send a mass email out first, and hopefully the second email with the interviewing PIs will specify neuro?  I would be thrilled to interview for either program but obviously neuroscience is the preference since that's where I applied.

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On 1/5/2021 at 1:49 AM, Elephantonly said:

I got an invite from UPenn NGG!!

Congrats!  This is my #1 Program and I haven't received an email, would you mind giving a little overview of yourself? (stats, intended research focus, POIs, etc.?) Thank you!!!

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On 12/22/2020 at 9:08 PM, anxiousinneuro said:

Does anyone have any ideas when BU and NYU's interviews will be?

I am fairly certain BU will be one of the last programs to get back to us since they had a late deadline.  Last year I think they started sending them out in early February and apparently sent one out in March (based on GradCafe results search). It's so hard to wait!!

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1 minute ago, iLikeBrainz said:

I am fairly certain BU will be one of the last programs to get back to us since they had a late deadline.  Last year I think they started sending them out in early February and apparently sent one out in March (based on GradCafe results search). It's so hard to wait!!

Hey, I see you're interviewing with Weill Cornell! What interview weekend are you going to?

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Just now, dopamine_machine said:

Hey, I see you're interviewing with Weill Cornell! What interview weekend are you going to?

Hey, I am going to the 1/20-1/22.  It's my first interview and I am incredibly nervous, especially since it's such an awesome program! Are you attending an interview event as well?

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1 minute ago, iLikeBrainz said:

Hey, I am going to the 1/20-1/22.  It's my first interview and I am incredibly nervous, especially since it's such an awesome program! Are you attending an interview event as well?

Just sent you a message!

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