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2021 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admissions Results


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On 1/9/2021 at 8:48 PM, Nightrestr said:

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?

Wow wow, another Russian future neuroscientist here! Do the two of us know each other? 😱 Are you by any chance affiliated with HSE (Moscow)?

What makes me sad is that I know at least three Russian students who used to work and study at HSE as well... two of them got into Ivies (one actually did not go and decided to stay here), and the third one went to Oxford. They seemed stronger applicants than me, but not that much. However, maybe this is a different year. Also, I have really struggled with this application cycle due to many reasons, so I did not expect much, but I was so hopeful 😬 

Did you try to find an RA position in the US?

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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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On 1/10/2021 at 12:33 AM, NutsaN said:

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 ❤️ 

Hi NutsaN, I am sorry I initially mistook PennState for UPenn, the second one is a great school, no doubt. I do not know much about the first one, but I think doing a PhD in the US is worth it as long as your POIs are there. I agree with the above commenters that the interview will help you realize whether you should go for it. I need to say that you are a very brave and courageous person. I have applied to 4 schools in the US and 1 in Europe (I will apply to some more European schools probably), and many people I know kept telling me that I did not stand a chance.

My last year's research advisor almost broke my heart by refusing to give me a reference, intimating me that I got my hopes too high and he would not support my applications. To be fair, I was not the only one he treated this way; he is quite a complicated person. But I did my best and always did everything I was asked, he graded me with A- on my term thesis which is a good grade to receive from him. I thought we had a good relationship, and then he treated me this way. And I know that even those professors who agreed to support me probably made a face at me inside. My family, obviously, also does not support me in this... Well.. I am even afraid that if I do not go anywhere this year, I may not be able to get myself together next year to apply. And my program actually has cases of alumni getting into Ivies.

I can only imagine what you must have gone through, I do not know your particular situation, so I am sorry if I am wrong. But I still think that the fact that you have applied and have put so much effort into this shows that you are a brave and strong person and you will succeed in whatever you choose one way or another. 

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20 hours ago, NeuroKween said:

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 :)

Hi NeuroKween, thanks so much for this detailed explanation! I will DM you soon😃

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4 hours ago, Neuromantic said:

If anyone wants to be a Post-Bacc @ the NIH, lmk: I was a Post-Bacc for 17 months & can speak about the application process / experience!

Hello! I'm finishing up my senior year of undergrad right now. I've applied to a few PhD programs, but it seems likely I might not get accepted this cycle (only have interviews at 2/6 schools applied too). I'd definitely be interested in a post-bacc at the NIH if I don't get into any programs for the fall. What was it like?

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27 minutes ago, neuro2021hopeful said:

Hello! I'm finishing up my senior year of undergrad right now. I've applied to a few PhD programs, but it seems likely I might not get accepted this cycle (only have interviews at 2/6 schools applied too). I'd definitely be interested in a post-bacc at the NIH if I don't get into any programs for the fall. What was it like?

2/6 interviews is AWESOME, and you very well may get accepted, dude! I'd say focus on your interviews before planning your backups.

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Not neuroscience person, but I have been reading your posts. You guys have forgot to mention a big topic when it comes to international students. Science is political. The US is not going to fund schools to train people from countries they might be in conflict with. As an international student once, you are trained, there is no reason for you to stay. I would say it is more likely that you dont stay, because you are now a comodity(Highly valued) in your country.

So it is not a matter of stats. Its a matter of politics and making sure the instutions and the goverment are getting what they are paying for. It is a bad move to train people, who you know are going to become your competitor.

That is simply the reality of things.

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16 minutes ago, Neuromantic said:

2/6 interviews is AWESOME, and you very well may get accepted, dude! I'd say focus on your interviews before planning your backups.

Thank you, I really appreciate that! I'm the first person in my family attempting to go to grad school, so I really wasn't sure what to expect when applying. But I'll keep my hopes up!

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Just now, neuro2021hopeful said:

Thank you, I really appreciate that! I'm the first person in my family attempting to go to grad school, so I really wasn't sure what to expect when applying. But I'll keep my hopes up!

I am, too! 2/6 is more than most people and considered pretty good. I can definitely provide more information about the post-bacc experience later on if you still need it :)

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Any tips on how you guys are going to prepare for interviews? Does anyone have suggestions from professors? As long as I know after the interview, the chance you get in is 50%. How do they choose the right person?

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14 hours ago, neuro2021hopeful said:

Hello! I'm finishing up my senior year of undergrad right now. I've applied to a few PhD programs, but it seems likely I might not get accepted this cycle (only have interviews at 2/6 schools applied too). I'd definitely be interested in a post-bacc at the NIH if I don't get into any programs for the fall. What was it like?

Why would you not get accepted with 2 interviews? I also have 2, and I have high hopes of being accepted!

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22 hours ago, lowestprime said:

I just schedule sent an email for 8 AM tomorrow to UCSD and UCLA admissions to ask if all interview invitations have already been sent.

UCLA neuroscience response 1/11/21 9:00 AM:

"Thank you for your email and for your application! Currently applications are still be reviewed for the NSIDP program. We will contact you directly with any updates regarding your application and status."

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4 hours ago, Mike_AB said:

Any tips on how you guys are going to prepare for interviews? Does anyone have suggestions from professors? As long as I know after the interview, the chance you get in is 50%. How do they choose the right person?

I signed up for the SNAAP program that was also advertised on this forum. I met with a PhD grad student that gave me some tips on what things I could work on. One thing she suggested is important to have is to have a good 20-30 second elevator pitch that you can use to explain a little of your background (where you graduated from, majors, RESEARCH). She said to practice outloud, which will allow you to be comfortable talking about your research. I'm also meeting with another PhD student for her advice and will ask the PI that I work for to meet also to discuss. If you don't have neuroscience research per se that is fine, just shift the focus on something else but that shows that you have initiative and also what brought your passion to learn about neuroscience (taking a class, going to a summer internship, etc).

I will also try to do at least one mock interview. 

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Hi! 

Super SUPER nervouse PhD applicant here. I only applied to one PhD program due to some issues/self-doubt. 

I am very nervous about receiving an interview. My GPA is terrible (GREAT GREAT resume, over 400 hours of research), but I really SHINE in the interview portion. 

Interview decisions come out at the end of this month and february, wish me luck please😭

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55 minutes ago, AnxiousNeuroKitty said:

Waitlisted by Northwestern- this my second waitlist. So frustrated at least I have two interviews and one of them being my top choice. 

I also applied to Northwestern — how did you know you got waitlisted? I haven’t heard anything back from them😥

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8 minutes ago, corticostriatal said:

I also applied to Northwestern — how did you know you got waitlisted? I haven’t heard anything back from them😥

I emailed the program coordinator and she told me that I am on the waitlist and should a position open up I would have an interview. 

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1 minute ago, AnxiousNeuroKitty said:

I emailed the program coordinator and she told me that I am on the waitlist and should a position open up I would have an interview. 

Aww, there is a waitlist for interviews? Hopefully other schools have that too!

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