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Advice for Cognitive Neuroscience PhD


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Hi All,


I'm currently a year 2 undergraduate outside of the US & UK. I am very interested in applying for a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in the US/UK but I'm quite unsure what kind of academic preparation would be necessary to be competitive. 


I'm a Psychology major (on track to First Class Honors) doing a biology minor. However, I am thinking of doing a dual degree programme in Psychology and Statistics, with minors in computer science & biophysics. This is because I read that a quantitative background (math + programming) is important for graduate admissions in Cognitive Neuroscience. The downside is that it will take 5 years, although I don't really mind since I'm on scholarship. I was thinking that the additional year would be extra time to gain research experience. Is this academic plan advisable?


Also, I'm currently volunteering with a genetics laboratory, with future plans to transit to a neuroimaging lab because my interest is in imaging genetics. Is it better to simultaneously work in both labs (perhaps on a collaborative project?) or should I focus on one? Would it also be a concern if the LORs come from collaborators from different labs but working on the same project? 


Would really appreciate any advice! Thanks!



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Hi Ooley,


I think it's great that you are planning this far ahead give that you're only two years removed from beginning your undergraduate studies! As someone with familiarity in the Cognitive Neuroscience domain I can assure you that your current trajectory, and relevant experience, show you have a very strong sense of what you hope to achieve for your graduate studies! 


The minors (computer science, especially) will be very pragmatic and useful in the cognitive neuroscience field. If you're interested in neuroimaging it is especially useful to know more about programming (MATLAB and Unix comes to mind). 


I would say if you can afford to be in both labs, there's no reason not to be! My only feedback is making sure your involvement in the genetics laboratory becomes relevant to what you intend to do in neuroscience. If the focus ends up being more aligned with genetics in the domain of biology, this may be a bit away from what you are set on doing. If that's the case, the LOR there may not be as relevant as the neuroimaging lab. Use these as stepping stones to find more relevant research experience and be involved in other labs as you seem to be doing already!


If time is not a pressing issue for you, and assuming that you are academically successful, there is no reason why your experiences won't translate into a program in Cognitive Neuroscience. 


Great job and good luck! :)

Edited by Jay's Brain
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