Jump to content
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

Master's in Neuroscience Decision Help


Recommended Posts



I am having a difficult time deciding on my next step after finding no success with PhD applications.  I've been accepted to MS/MSc programs in Neurobio/science at Northwestern, UCL, and U of Edinburgh, and I am really struggling to decide which option is best for me.  I also recently interviewed for a position at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, so that could be an option.  I am wondering if anyone has insight into these options, or an idea of what I should be looking for in a master's program?  I do hope to re-apply to PhD programs after a master's program or 2nd job in research.

My thoughts are:

  • Pros of UCL are the coursework and the possibility of working in a well-known laboratory for my master's research project.  Also, UCL seems to have a good reputation within the neuroscience world.  Unfortunately, I've been unable to garner commitments from any of the labs in which I really want to do research, so I'd be going in only hoping to get a project that fits my interests.  
  • Northwestern offers a more expansive research project (1 year vs 6 months), but the coursework is general and limited (1 elective, 2 general neurobiology courses).  Coursework options are fairly important to me because I'd like my master's GPA to be as influential as possible in order to effectively counteract my relatively poor uGPA.  Still, the more involved master's thesis is intriguing.  I know research experience tends to be important for PhD applications.  
  • Edinburgh's coursework is just OK.  I've had encouraging responses from PIs about research projects, so I am confident that I would be able to do research in an area of interest.  
  • The job at the Allen Institute is pretty intriguing, but I am hardly the only candidate for the job.  The scientists I spoke to over the phone seemed to think that 3 years with them would be a much better option than any master's program, mostly because of the chance to expand on my research background.  It would also be nice to make money instead of having $70,000 of debt over my head for one year of school.  I was lucky enough to not incur debt from my undergraduate degree.

About me: I have an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of St. Andrews, but I graduated with a lousy GPA (~3.0).  I did 19 months of work as a lab technician at the University of Utah after graduating with my BSc, which hopefully netted me a second-author pub (if the PI ever manages to finish the manuscript!).  As a technician, I learned blind/slice patch and LFP electrophysiology, which apparently are standout points of my resume. My GRE scores are OK: V: 163 Q: 158 : W: 4.5.  My research interests are in neurophysiology/computational neuroscience, preferably in visual processing or motor control.  Documented computational experience was somewhat lacking in my previous PhD applications, so I really hope to use my next experience as tangible evidence of computational proficiency.


Anyway, any kind of general insight or opinion on master's programs I listed (or any comment, really) is appreciated.



Edited by seven27
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Allen Institute sounds like the best option to me. Are you able to get funding from any of the programs? Can you get placement information on recent grads from the master's programs? That is, what PhD programs are they sending graduate students to? You'll want to go to the program with the best placement record if you're going to one of the master's programs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.