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2023 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admissions Results


walterkronkite
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Hello! The post for last year's admissions started in Feb, so relative to that we are late! Please post the schools you'll be applying to, any information you've gleaned about the process, and support for each other! Computational Neuroscience/Neural Computation degree seekers welcome as well!

Edited by untss
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  • 1 month later...

Help me evaluating my profile, please!!

Degree- Fresh out of medical school in India (it is an undergrad program here). Have a license to practice medicine in India.

Grades- There is no system of GPA.

Research- 2 REU in the US, 3 part-time at home school, 2 at national school: All in neuroscience

Publications- 15 (14 first authors, 4 original research, rest opinion/review/book chapter): All in neuroscience.

Extracurriculars- President of a national student medical association, editor of an international medical student journal

GRE- Have not taken it yet.

Awards- A couple of national awards, a few grants

LORs- All from research advisors

What schools should I apply? Looking at systems neuro/cell-molecular neuro programs mostly. Type 1- Harvard, MIT or Princeton type; or Type 2- Columbia, Caltech, UPenn, UCLA type; Type 3- Boston University, WashU, type. 

Edited by NerdDesi
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/16/2022 at 6:07 PM, untss said:

As for me:

Grad Institution: Top 50 University 

Major(s):  BA Computer Science (2018)

Overall GPA: 3.68/4.00

Type of Student: White, domestic

GRE Scores: V: 167 (98%) Q: 166 (86%) W: 4.5 (80%)

Experience: 

- 1 year of Computer Vision research in undergrad

- TA/Grader for a few classes

- Software engineer at a FAANG for 4 years

- Starting a Computational Neuroscience research assistant position at a well-known university

Publications/Posters: 

- None :(

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Dean's List

LoRs: 1 from prof who I TA'd for. 1 hopefully from research advisor at the new position. Maybe 1 from undergrad research PI, but that was many years ago (2016/17/18)

Applying to Where: Comp. Neuro programs. Unsure where exactly. Obviously would love to shoot for MIT/CMU but my slightly non-standard background makes these seem impossible.

Doesn't seem too unreasonable to me that you'd get some interviews at programs with comp neuro. CMU/Pitt PNC does like somewhat non-traditional people from what I hear as they're a program that tries to draw students from other disciplines into neuroscience. Your research experience is a bit light and you won't have a ton of experience in your research assistantship. I would say shoot high as if you have to apply another cycle, you should be in good shape.

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On 8/23/2022 at 9:19 PM, NerdDesi said:

Help me evaluating my profile, please!!

Degree- Fresh out of medical school in India (it is an undergrad program here). Have a license to practice medicine in India.

Grades- There is no system of GPA.

Research- 2 REU in the US, 3 part-time at home school, 2 at national school: All in neuroscience

Publications- 15 (14 first authors, 4 original research, rest opinion/review/book chapter): All in neuroscience.

Extracurriculars- President of a national student medical association, editor of an international medical student journal

GRE- Have not taken it yet.

Awards- A couple of national awards, a few grants

LORs- All from research advisors

What schools should I apply? Looking at systems neuro/cell-molecular neuro programs mostly. Type 1- Harvard, MIT or Princeton type; or Type 2- Columbia, Caltech, UPenn, UCLA type; Type 3- Boston University, WashU, type. 

I'd be a bit leery of applying so highly. Coming from a school in India, it's already hard to assess you as a student (by American profs) and that's made much more difficult by you not having a GPA to show for it. Also, 15 papers with 14 first-authorships makes me skeptical that you are overselling yourself and admissions committees can sniff that out. Are these publications in well-known journals? At least venues like PLOS One or eNeuro but preferably some in places like JNeuro or JNeurophys or higher impact factor. Having that many articles smells of paper-padding which is a net negative.

Edited by ManifoldsAreMadeUp
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Hello, new here and also super nervous!

Degree- Bachelors with Honors in Communication Sciences and Disorders (3.58gpa from a school in Missouri) , Non-Clinical Masters in the Study of Communication (3.487gpa from a top 20 school)

Research- 2 independent studies (one in undergrad and one in my Masters program), and a research internship as a McNair Scholar

Publications- My undergrad had a McNair Research Journal and I have presented at several conferences over the course of the pandemic on chemobrain

Extracurriculars- McNair Scholar, Peer mentor

GRE- None of the schools I want to go to need it

Awards- MVP scholar

LORs- Prior research mentor, Director of the McNair Scholars Program from my undergrad, Director of my Masters program

What schools should I apply to????

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On 9/5/2022 at 9:40 AM, ManifoldsAreMadeUp said:

I'd be a bit leery of applying so highly. Coming from a school in India, it's already hard to assess you as a student (by American profs) and that's made much more difficult by you not having a GPA to show for it. Also, 15 papers with 14 first-authorships makes me skeptical that you are overselling yourself and admissions committees can sniff that out. Are these publications in well-known journals? At least venues like PLOS One or eNeuro but preferably some in places like JNeuro or JNeurophys or higher impact factor. Having that many articles smells of paper-padding which is a net negative.

Out of 14 two are book chapters (Springer and Taylor Francis publication), none of original articles are in pure neuroscience journals although the topic is Neuroscience they are in medical journals. Only one is in Jneuro and that too an opinion piece. Should I remove the number of papers to have a better chance?

Do you think I should take GRE to increase my chances because there is a solid chance that it will mostly fade out as there is lot of resentment against standardised scores. What schools do you think I should aim for? NYU or WUSL, would they be too ambitious for me?

Thank you so much for replying back! It helps a lot.

 

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21 hours ago, NerdDesi said:

Out of 14 two are book chapters (Springer and Taylor Francis publication), none of original articles are in pure neuroscience journals although the topic is Neuroscience they are in medical journals. Only one is in Jneuro and that too an opinion piece. Should I remove the number of papers to have a better chance?

Do you think I should take GRE to increase my chances because there is a solid chance that it will mostly fade out as there is lot of resentment against standardised scores. What schools do you think I should aim for? NYU or WUSL, would they be too ambitious for me?

Thank you so much for replying back! It helps a lot.

 

I'm not quite sure what Springer and Taylor & Francis connote as, just as journal articles, books can be padding as well. I would say cut away any journal articles that aren't in well-known peer-reviewed journals like the ones I've listed (you can ask me if there's some in particular you have questions about). The JNeuro piece sounds like it's one of their "Journal Club" articles and I would keep it listed but make sure you communicate that it is a "Journal Club" piece. You should ask around and might get differing advice but if your profile is seen as being "padded", that's a red flag. 

I think that a GRE is necessary since you have no GPA and your papers might not be taken as seriously. What you really need to show committees is that you will be a stellar future scientist and not having a GPA is an enormous barrier. You need everything you can leverage to give them some reason to justify your admittance. In the absence of evidence, risk-adverse ad comms will assume the worst and not hesitate to reject an applicant.

Of course, get other opinions on this but this is my assessment.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/23/2022 at 9:19 PM, NerdDesi said:

Help me evaluating my profile, please!!

Degree- Fresh out of medical school in India (it is an undergrad program here). Have a license to practice medicine in India.

Grades- There is no system of GPA.

Research- 2 REU in the US, 3 part-time at home school, 2 at national school: All in neuroscience

Publications- 15 (14 first authors, 4 original research, rest opinion/review/book chapter): All in neuroscience.

Extracurriculars- President of a national student medical association, editor of an international medical student journal

GRE- Have not taken it yet.

Awards- A couple of national awards, a few grants

LORs- All from research advisors

What schools should I apply? Looking at systems neuro/cell-molecular neuro programs mostly. Type 1- Harvard, MIT or Princeton type; or Type 2- Columbia, Caltech, UPenn, UCLA type; Type 3- Boston University, WashU, type. 

Coming from India myself, I understand your profile a little bit. You have some problems in your profile.

Firstly, you have an MBBS degree with no GPA.

Secondly, 15 publications in a span of "2 REU in the US, 3 part-time at home school, 2 at national school" - this is viewed as a Red flag for many reasons. One, you have 14 First authored. Second, 15 is a huge number for someone who is fresh out of med school. Publication is not easy and everyone knows that. So, as @ManifoldsAreMadeUp mentioned, this is a serious red flag.

Also, could you please list the journals you have published in? Many profs here may even think that you have published in Predatory journals looking at the number of publications you have mentioned.

GRE definitely helps. Not sure what your "Type" 1, 2 and 3 mean. But if they are ambitious, moderate and safe in order (1,2,3), sorry bud, all 3 are actually ambitious given the competition, international student status and your profile as a whole.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Would greatly appreciate a profile evaluation!

Degree: B.S. in neuroscience (Fall 2021), M.S. in neuroscience @ same school, in progress, expected Spring 2023. Dual B.S./M.S. program.

Grades: 3.61 undergrad, 3.71 grad so far, expected to remain above 3.5

GRE: None

Research experience:

Undergrad: started at my current lab during senior year of undergrad, assisting with data processing and analysis through Matlab and a open-source software developed by another research lab for measuring behavior through pixel variance of video recordings and correlating with brain-wide neural activity. 

Grad: Thesis work will be carrying out an aim of a recently started project at our lab. Won't be done in time to include any publication or presented data in my CV for applications, but I will be learning how to do 2-photon imaging, optogenetic manipulation, and mouse craniotomies and perfusions over the remainder of my program.

Publications: one contributing authorship on a paper submitted this past June.

Conferences and posters: None

Memberships and honors: National Honor Society in Neuroscience member, Dean's list for Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

Involvement: a recently developed undergraduate neuroscience peer mentorship program. Sometimes volunteer @ local needle exchange outreach

LOR: One from my PI, which I expect to be good. Hoping to get two strong ones from professors. One of them I've had both Spring and Fall this year, being highly involved in the course, communicating often, and displaying a strong ability to overcome mental health struggles. The 3rd professor LOR won't be as strong, but I don't expect them to talk bad about my character or anything.

Research interests: Systems and computational neuroscience, higher-order cognition, memory, representation, hierarchical structures of neural oscillations, neural correlates of abstract object, action, and conceptual categories, cognitive science and causal modeling of human neuroimaging data, belief and creativity, schizophrenia, autism spectrum, addiction. 

Schools of interest: NYU, Upenn, CMU, Brown, UChicago, U Oregon, Boston U, UT Austin, UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC Boulder. 

Any suggestions on schools with higher admissions rates for neuro PhD's that fit these areas of interest would be immensely appreciated as well!

Edited by VALIS
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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a conversation with a computational neuroscience PhD from our university's department and heard something interesting that I feel like sharing.

This person told me that LORs are usually not that useful even if they are coming from someone with prestige. He said that the only way to have a strong chance to get admitted to a top institute is to have your current PI write a letter directly to professor from the targeted university and asked if the professor would be willing to set up an interview and consider taking you in as a PhD student. I have heard of this kind of procedure in the econ department but not from neuroscience. 

Could someone speak to the validity of this? How prevalent is this practice? 

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On 10/1/2022 at 5:43 PM, VALIS said:

Would greatly appreciate a profile evaluation!

Degree: B.S. in neuroscience (Fall 2021), M.S. in neuroscience @ same school, in progress, expected Spring 2023. Dual B.S./M.S. program.

Grades: 3.61 undergrad, 3.71 grad so far, expected to remain above 3.5

GRE: None

Research experience:

Undergrad: started at my current lab during senior year of undergrad, assisting with data processing and analysis through Matlab and a open-source software developed by another research lab for measuring behavior through pixel variance of video recordings and correlating with brain-wide neural activity. 

Grad: Thesis work will be carrying out an aim of a recently started project at our lab. Won't be done in time to include any publication or presented data in my CV for applications, but I will be learning how to do 2-photon imaging, optogenetic manipulation, and mouse craniotomies and perfusions over the remainder of my program.

Publications: one contributing authorship on a paper submitted this past June.

Conferences and posters: None

Memberships and honors: National Honor Society in Neuroscience member, Dean's list for Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

Involvement: a recently developed undergraduate neuroscience peer mentorship program. Sometimes volunteer @ local needle exchange outreach

LOR: One from my PI, which I expect to be good. Hoping to get two strong ones from professors. One of them I've had both Spring and Fall this year, being highly involved in the course, communicating often, and displaying a strong ability to overcome mental health struggles. The 3rd professor LOR won't be as strong, but I don't expect them to talk bad about my character or anything.

Research interests: Systems and computational neuroscience, higher-order cognition, memory, representation, hierarchical structures of neural oscillations, neural correlates of abstract object, action, and conceptual categories, cognitive science and causal modeling of human neuroimaging data, belief and creativity, schizophrenia, autism spectrum, addiction. 

Schools of interest: NYU, Upenn, CMU, Brown, UChicago, U Oregon, Boston U, UT Austin, UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC Boulder. 

Any suggestions on schools with higher admissions rates for neuro PhD's that fit these areas of interest would be immensely appreciated as well!

I think you have a great profile and are well-matched for the schools you are applying to. I don’t think you’ll have to worry too much about getting interviews especially with less selective places on your list like UO, CU Boulder, and UC Irvine. For CMU, PNC is great but CMU Neuro is also a newer program that might not have as many applicants although maybe this isn’t true anymore. I wouldn’t even suggest additional places with lower admit rates because I think you’re fine.  If you really want more to look at, you can check out Stony Brook, Rochester, and UCSB.

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4 hours ago, BW_27 said:

I had a conversation with a computational neuroscience PhD from our university's department and heard something interesting that I feel like sharing.

This person told me that LORs are usually not that useful even if they are coming from someone with prestige. He said that the only way to have a strong chance to get admitted to a top institute is to have your current PI write a letter directly to professor from the targeted university and asked if the professor would be willing to set up an interview and consider taking you in as a PhD student. I have heard of this kind of procedure in the econ department but not from neuroscience. 

Could someone speak to the validity of this? How prevalent is this practice? 

I don’t really think that this is that common tbh. First of all, it’s hard if not impossible to know which professors are serving on the rotating admissions committee. Second, it expends a lot of social capital for someone to ask for a “favor” to interview one of their students. I guess I’ve heard of it happening but it’s definitely not common. Third, the LoR definitely already serves this function if you make the shortlist: I’ve spoken to faculty and they really do read these letters and they pay attention to who is writing them. A friend of mine was admitted to her program because the admissions committee faculty member who reviewed her profile said “all your letter writers were great friends of mine”.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello, I'm more neuroinformatics/biomedical informatics/idk anymore, but would love some advice on if neuroscience programs make sense.

Degree- Double Major in Biomedical Engineering and Comp. Sci. from Georgia Tech

Research- I did 5 semesters of undergraduate research, I had a chance to do an REU at a prestigious biomedical informatics program over the summer, and I will have done 2 years of a postbac at the NIH.

Publications- Unfortunately, mostly just abstracts. I have 3 abstracts posted on my Google Scholar, and 1 that apparently is in a conference but isn't listed. I am first author on two of them. I also won a competition that got a paper published, but im essentially 20th author out of 25 authors.

Extracurriculars- I did industry work for about a year as a software engineer, became a postbac where I helped organize a lot of the postbac activities.

GRE- all above the 90th percentile.

Awards- Cum Laude graduation, Stephen Brossette Scholarship, and won a Parkinson's disease competition once

LORs- Three research mentors

My main issue is I want to continue work on applying neuroinformatics, and statistical analyses onto neurological data, but computational neuroscience seems to be a completely different thing than what I should look to apply to (I really am not interested in the theoretical activations of systems of neurons).

I'm planning on applying to:

  • UChicago: Medical Physics program, seems they have a lot of MRI informatics work
  • NIH-GPP for Brown Neuroscience: Would love a chance to continue work at NIH, plus the Brown program looks really good
  • Harvard BBS+BIG: I think I am interested in some of their neuroinformatics labs... also I kinda ogle at the Harvard name
  • MIT Comp Sci: A lot of MRI informatics professors were telling me to look into this
  • Emory Biomedical Engineering: TRenDS MRI data science initiative involving GSU, EMORY, GT
  • Georgia Tech CompSci: Some professors do functional connectomics from a very graph theory heavy POV... also TRenDS
  • GSU CompSci: TRenDS MRI data science initiative involving GSU, EMORY, GT
  • UPitt DBMI/Neuroscience: They have a lot of cross-collaboration, but also not sure I want to live in Pittsburgh for 5 years
  • USC: LONI is located here, is massive for neuroinformatics
  • UCBerkely/UCSF: The bioengineering program here has a lot of MRI informatics stuf
  • UPenn Bioengineering: I'm interested in the CBICA program here.

 

I legitimately don't know whether I should include more neuroscience or add more schools to my list. Also, should I include more safety schools?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi @Mustang_97 and @ManifoldsAreMadeUp thanks for your reply. Sorry for getting back late. I can remove the number of publications just to make rest look good. However, none of my publications are in predatory journals (according to various lists and never paid any APC). Additionally most of my journal publications are opinion articles, letter to the editor etc. What do you think I can do to make myself look better besides GRE? I am working in the lab and now bit scared to write another opinion article. 

Edited by NerdDesi
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On 11/17/2022 at 8:07 PM, NerdDesi said:

Hi @Mustang_97 and @ManifoldsAreMadeUp thanks for your reply. Sorry for getting back late. I can remove the number of publications just to make rest look good. However, none of my publications are in predatory journals (according to various lists and never paid any APC). Additionally most of my journal publications are opinion articles, letter to the editor etc. What do you think I can do to make myself look better besides GRE? I am working in the lab and now bit scared to write another opinion article. 

I would only leave the original research articles but even then I am skeptical that they aren't predatory journals. What journals are these in? All journals charge APCs regardless of if it's Nature or PLOS One so that isn't a distinguisher of whether they are predatory or not.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, I am hoping I have the need for this question and not jinxing myself 🤣

1. How do you know (ahead of time) if interviews will be in-person or online for a particular program?

2. What is the dress code (Male) for Biology PhD - suit? pants shirt and tie? Pants and shirt?

3. Any suggestions on how to prep? Are they usually behavioral interviews?

4. Would you think that most Bio/Neuro PhD programs have interviews prior to acceptance?

Thank you!

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6 hours ago, PhdWannaBeMe said:

Hey, I am hoping I have the need for this question and not jinxing myself 🤣

1. How do you know (ahead of time) if interviews will be in-person or online for a particular program?

2. What is the dress code (Male) for Biology PhD - suit? pants shirt and tie? Pants and shirt?

3. Any suggestions on how to prep? Are they usually behavioral interviews?

4. Would you think that most Bio/Neuro PhD programs have interviews prior to acceptance?

Thank you!

1. Usually programs would have mentioned in their website. Most international candidates (not living in US) - Online. It also depends on the univ and program.

2. No idea! (Will think about it when/if I get an interview call :P)

3. Again it depends on the person/program interviewing. Most candidates have claimed to having been asked the basics, their research experience to see how well they fit (having a fit is important)

4. Mostly yes.

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On 10/20/2022 at 10:34 PM, saqibm128 said:

Hello, I'm more neuroinformatics/biomedical informatics/idk anymore, but would love some advice on if neuroscience programs make sense.

Degree- Double Major in Biomedical Engineering and Comp. Sci. from Georgia Tech

Research- I did 5 semesters of undergraduate research, I had a chance to do an REU at a prestigious biomedical informatics program over the summer, and I will have done 2 years of a postbac at the NIH.

Publications- Unfortunately, mostly just abstracts. I have 3 abstracts posted on my Google Scholar, and 1 that apparently is in a conference but isn't listed. I am first author on two of them. I also won a competition that got a paper published, but im essentially 20th author out of 25 authors.

Extracurriculars- I did industry work for about a year as a software engineer, became a postbac where I helped organize a lot of the postbac activities.

GRE- all above the 90th percentile.

Awards- Cum Laude graduation, Stephen Brossette Scholarship, and won a Parkinson's disease competition once

LORs- Three research mentors

My main issue is I want to continue work on applying neuroinformatics, and statistical analyses onto neurological data, but computational neuroscience seems to be a completely different thing than what I should look to apply to (I really am not interested in the theoretical activations of systems of neurons).

I'm planning on applying to:

  • UChicago: Medical Physics program, seems they have a lot of MRI informatics work
  • NIH-GPP for Brown Neuroscience: Would love a chance to continue work at NIH, plus the Brown program looks really good
  • Harvard BBS+BIG: I think I am interested in some of their neuroinformatics labs... also I kinda ogle at the Harvard name
  • MIT Comp Sci: A lot of MRI informatics professors were telling me to look into this
  • Emory Biomedical Engineering: TRenDS MRI data science initiative involving GSU, EMORY, GT
  • Georgia Tech CompSci: Some professors do functional connectomics from a very graph theory heavy POV... also TRenDS
  • GSU CompSci: TRenDS MRI data science initiative involving GSU, EMORY, GT
  • UPitt DBMI/Neuroscience: They have a lot of cross-collaboration, but also not sure I want to live in Pittsburgh for 5 years
  • USC: LONI is located here, is massive for neuroinformatics
  • UCBerkely/UCSF: The bioengineering program here has a lot of MRI informatics stuf
  • UPenn Bioengineering: I'm interested in the CBICA program here.

 

I legitimately don't know whether I should include more neuroscience or add more schools to my list. Also, should I include more safety schools?

Where did you do postbacc at NIH?  I am assuming Building 10.  If you want to continue to work at the NIH, consider applying for a PMF in the future.  

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On 12/1/2022 at 9:47 AM, PhdWannaBeMe said:

Hey, I am hoping I have the need for this question and not jinxing myself 🤣

1. How do you know (ahead of time) if interviews will be in-person or online for a particular program?

2. What is the dress code (Male) for Biology PhD - suit? pants shirt and tie? Pants and shirt?

3. Any suggestions on how to prep? Are they usually behavioral interviews?

4. Would you think that most Bio/Neuro PhD programs have interviews prior to acceptance?

Thank you!

1.  These days I would expect Zoom, but some still do in-person on campus.  If you can't find the info on the website, email the program[s] and ask how they are doing interviews this year.  

2.  Business casual at most.  Ties would be optional, but you likely might be the only one wearing one.  

3.  These types of interviews are informal.  They are a chance for you to get to know them (and other students both potential and current), and for them to get to know you.  Ignore whatever interview prep advice you may have heard.  The 'interview' is going to mostly consists of you and them talking about science, research interests, and that sort of thing.  But ask them questions!  Ask about mentoring style.  Ask students who is cool and who is the jerk you want to avoid.  That sort of stuff.  Try and get a general vibe of the program. 

4.  Can't say most, but yeah.  The general consensus is that if you are invited to interview you are pretty much in.  Not always, though.  They may think you are psycho once they meet you, or that something about you in-person doesn't match up with your application.  Or they may be interviewing a few more people than they have space for.  You might also think the program, after all, sucks and it is not for you. 

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17 hours ago, Crucial BBQ said:

Can't say most, but yeah.  The general consensus is that if you are invited to interview you are pretty much in.  Not always, though.  They may think you are psycho once they meet you, or that something about you in-person doesn't match up with your application.  Or they may be interviewing a few more people than they have space for.  You might also think the program, after all, sucks and it is not for you. 

Not at all true. I know of many programs that give offers only to around half of the interviewees. One program I know of in neuro gives offers only to a third. Lots of rich programs (neuroscience) can afford to fly out many more applicants than they have spots for.

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