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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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25 minutes ago, cogcontrol said:

If you don't mind, could you share your stats?

Sure, I am an International Student receiving BS degrees in US and currently a MS student. 3.97 GPA, worked in a neuroscience lab for 3 years, strong LORs, two first-author and two co-author papers in preparation (maybe shouldn't count since has not published yet).

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For those that got the MIT interview, do you know if interview weekend is a separate event than the interviews on Thursday/Friday? (I'm new to this and I am not really familiar with the concept of an interview weekend)

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For those wondering, I got my interview invite for MIT about 20 min ago, whereas some others seemed to have got them about 3 hours ago according to the timestamps, so I don't think they sent them out all at once. 

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27 minutes ago, j118 said:

For those that got the MIT interview, do you know if interview weekend is a separate event than the interviews on Thursday/Friday? (I'm new to this and I am not really familiar with the concept of an interview weekend)

I think it is just Thursday and Friday.

Edited by Eusebius.
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13 minutes ago, Eusebius. said:

I think it is just Thursday and Friday.

Thanks Eusebius. I was confused by why they called it "Interview Weekend" if neither Thursday nor Friday are the weekend. 

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Just now, j118 said:

Thanks Eusebius. I was confused by why they called it "Interview Weekend" if neither Thursday nor Friday are the weekend. 

Yeah I guess it's usually the case that interview happens at the weekend? At least that's the case for my other interviews.

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3 hours ago, Eusebius. said:

Sure, I am an International Student receiving BS degrees in US and currently a MS student. 3.97 GPA, worked in a neuroscience lab for 3 years, strong LORs, two first-author and two co-author papers in preparation (maybe shouldn't count since has not published yet).

Thank you! Just one more quick question: did you receive the invite from the BCS dept. or your POI?

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3 minutes ago, cogcontrol said:

Thank you! Just one more quick question: did you receive the invite from the BCS dept. or your POI?

I got the phone call from POI and several hours later I got the official email from BCS dept.

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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! :) 

I dont know how much of the thread or other threads you have read, but graduate admissions are not as easy as hndergraduate predictions. Their have been people with 2.93’s getting interviews at Harvard over a 4.0 applicant. Looking at your overview, I only have one piece of advice, and dont take it in a bad way, but you are too academically-oriented (unless you left information out). Although getting into graduate school is all about how well you have performed in many sectors (Research, Classes, etc.), you also need to be well-rounded. This means taking part in clubs and activities outside of your comfort zone. While you wont be writing a paper on it to the committee, its still important! 

 

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Hey fellow neuroscience applicants!

Has anyone received any information about the schedule for the 2-day virtual interview event at Johns Hopkins University next week?

Also, are people still expecting to hear back from NYU and UCLA neuroscience graduate programs??

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56 minutes ago, NeurototheT said:

I dont know how much of the thread or other threads you have read, but graduate admissions are not as easy as hndergraduate predictions. Their have been people with 2.93’s getting interviews at Harvard over a 4.0 applicant. Looking at your overview, I only have one piece of advice, and dont take it in a bad way, but you are too academically-oriented (unless you left information out). Although getting into graduate school is all about how well you have performed in many sectors (Research, Classes, etc.), you also need to be well-rounded. This means taking part in clubs and activities outside of your comfort zone. While you wont be writing a paper on it to the committee, its still important! 

 

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 academics. Science outreach/teaching always is a bonus but not necessary, and I dont think much weight is placed on participating in unrelated extracurriculars themselves. Maybe they could help illustrate how you might work as a scientist, (eg athlete-> hardworking) but I don’t think they are necessary for admissions into a top program. Just my (possibly incorrect) take 🤷

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33 minutes ago, MyCortisolLevelsRVeryHigh said:

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 academics. Science outreach/teaching always is a bonus but not necessary, and I dont think much weight is placed on participating in unrelated extracurriculars themselves. Maybe they could help illustrate how you might work as a scientist, (eg athlete-> hardworking) but I don’t think they are necessary for admissions into a top program. Just my (possibly incorrect) take 🤷

I agree with this. At no point besides the CV would anything not related to science (extracurriculars, non science jobs, volunteering) come up. About 90% of your application and basically 100% of your interview will be specifically talking about performing research. 

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Anyone else did didn’t get any interview invitations at all??? Please tell me I’m not alone 😭 

I’m super bummed. I had everything lined up as I’ve I was gonna start grad school next fall, plus I have extensive research experience, first author publications, good gpa, relevant undergrad course work..

Is there still hope at this point ☹️

I don’t know what went wrong. I would really like to work on what I failed to meet to be stronger applicant in the future..

 

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21 minutes ago, Zoey_q said:

Anyone else did didn’t get any interview invitations at all??? Please tell me I’m not alone 😭 

I’m super bummed. I had everything lined up as I’ve I was gonna start grad school next fall, plus I have extensive research experience, first author publications, good gpa, relevant undergrad course work..

Is there still hope at this point ☹️

I don’t know what went wrong. I would really like to work on what I failed to meet to be stronger applicant in the future..

 

There is hope because most programs have gotten a lot more applicants than last year and hence review of applications in some places is taking longer. Also, people this year have applied to more programs than prior years because they kept hearing that this cycle is more competitive. Hence, more admission offers will be declined and more people will get in off the wait list.

Which programs/universities did you apply to? Are you an American student, International Student studying at a US university or International student studying at international university?

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1 hour ago, Zoey_q said:

Anyone else did didn’t get any interview invitations at all??? Please tell me I’m not alone 😭 

I’m super bummed. I had everything lined up as I’ve I was gonna start grad school next fall, plus I have extensive research experience, first author publications, good gpa, relevant undergrad course work..

Is there still hope at this point ☹️

I don’t know what went wrong. I would really like to work on what I failed to meet to be stronger applicant in the future..

 

same boat, feeling super down but you know what they say about misery...

fingers and toes crossed that @sirtuingirl is right about waitlists. on the other hand i'd expect even wait-listed folks would be hearing something? or do wait-list interviews happen after an entire round of interview and offer letters? not sure how this works

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4 minutes ago, capa_detated said:

same boat, feeling super down but you know what they say about misery...

fingers and toes crossed that @sirtuingirl is right about waitlists. on the other hand i'd expect even wait-listed folks would be hearing something? or do wait-list interviews happen after an entire round of interview and offer letters? not sure how this works

Same here...applied to 12 programs..received 4 rejections and no interviews yet. Really wondering if there's any hope at this point? Especially regarding waitlists and how they work.

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6 hours ago, Anxiously Hopeful said:

Hey fellow neuroscience applicants!

Has anyone received any information about the schedule for the 2-day virtual interview event at Johns Hopkins University next week?

Also, are people still expecting to hear back from NYU and UCLA neuroscience graduate programs??

I reached out to my contact in the UCLA neuroscience graduate department again and asked if the January 18th interview invitation deadline has been extended. I will update here if they reply.

Also, here are the compiled UC Neuro acceptance stats from the last 3 years if anyone is interested and has not seen them yet:

ACtC-3fFWsYZ8pYWOIALCrIxJ4ZULxEE4-P0CzG_

Edited by lowestprime
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23 minutes ago, capa_detated said:

same boat, feeling super down but you know what they say about misery...

fingers and toes crossed that @sirtuingirl is right about waitlists. on the other hand i'd expect even wait-listed folks would be hearing something? or do wait-list interviews happen after an entire round of interview and offer letters? not sure how this works

There are 2 kinds/rounds of wait lists. One is when people reject interviews because they have received too many and some off the wait list will be invited. I don't know how many this year belonged to this kind. The next round where there is movement off the wait lists is when admission offers are declined and those programs cannot fill their slots. Most programs will assume that a certain % of offers will get declined based on past cycles but there is a good chance that those assumptions will prove to be inaccurate due to the unique nature of this cycle. In that case, they might interview and make offers even in March. 

Edited by sirtuingirl
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