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PhD in neuroscience - what are my chances?


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Hey everybody!

so i'm starting to get nervous about applications.... I'm an international student so I don't really know who i'm competing against (experience-wise).

currently finishing my B.Sc.  in biology+psychology+emphasis in neuroscience (so I have a lot of neuro courses in my resume). GPA around 3.7-3.8.  

but I'm not sure if my lab experience is good enough - one biology and one psychobiology projects. my degree is only 3 years (not 4 like american undergrads), so i won't have time for another lab experience before applications' deadlines. 

took the GRE a couple of days ago, so i don't have the AW score yet, but the quant and verbal were 161 and 160. I could definitely score higher on the quant so i'm considering retaking the exam (though it will be only in October.... cutting it close to deadlines). 

My aim is to get accepted to a PhD in the biology-oriented neuroscience (molecular etc.), and of course the dream is in NYC. 

applying to Columbia, NYU, Weill Cornell and CUNY (as a safe choice). 

Are my chances good? should I consider more schools?

Thank you!!

Edited by Meitarg
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On 6/25/2017 at 11:07 PM, Meitarg said:

Hey everybody!

so i'm starting to get nervous about applications.... I'm an international student so I don't really know who i'm competing against (experience-wise).

currently finishing my B.Sc.  in biology+psychology+emphasis in neuroscience (so I have a lot of neuro courses in my resume). GPA around 3.7-3.8.  

but I'm not sure if my lab experience is good enough - one biology and one psychobiology projects. my degree is only 3 years (not 4 like american undergrads), so i won't have time for another lab experience before applications' deadlines. 

took the GRE a couple of days ago, so i don't have the AW score yet, but the quant and verbal were 161 and 160. I could definitely score higher on the quant so i'm considering retaking the exam (though it will be only in October.... cutting it close to deadlines). 

My aim is to get accepted to a PhD in the biology-oriented neuroscience (molecular etc.), and of course the dream is in NYC. 

applying to Columbia, NYU, Weill Cornell and CUNY (as a safe choice). 

Are my chances good? should I consider more schools?

Thank you!!

Do you just HAVE to apply straight out of undergrad? You could take a year to get more significant research experience.

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Neuroscience PhD student here. Didn't do a masters. Note I'm in Canada, though, so it might be a little different.

I took a long time to investigate researchers, programs, and universities. I also took time away from school for a bit.

I think you might want to rethink what graduate admissions are actually like. Grades and "lab experience" or "research experience" will only take you so far in a graduate program, especially when admissions in that university and department are competitive. What grades and basic research/lab experience do is tell admission officers you qualify for admission.

The things that actually get your foot in the door are the more "minor" things many students don't think about:

1) Is there a supervisor in that university / department who does the work you want to do?

2) Is that supervisor taking students?

3) Does the work / background you have even remotely line up with that supervisor? (e.g., you probably won't make a big impression on that supervisor if you work with worms and that professor works with elderly with, say, multiple sclerosis)

*Note: many research skills are transferable and students change interests as they progress through their programs, so your interests and background don't have to be exactly the same as your potential supervisor.

4) Did you make a connection with that supervisor, and made a (good) impression? If 10 people applied to work with that supervisor and only 1 had previously corresponded (well!) with that supervisor, who do you think will get in?

Essentially what I'm saying is it is hard to even guess what your chances are if all we know are your GPA, GRE scores, and some general info about your projects and interests.

Many things factor into an admission decision. The first 3 you know: GPA, GREs, and research experience. But also don't forget LORs (letter of references), statement of interest/purpose, research focus, availability of supervisor, previous connection with the POI, funding status of POI, etc.

On 30/07/2017 at 7:22 AM, Bioenchilada said:

Is there a specific reason why the dream is NYC?

I had the same question. Why "of course the dream is in NYC"?

I would advise you to not start by choosing a city, even though the location is obviously a big factor. Start by deciding what work you actually want to do, which programs offer that, which supervisors could help you do the work you want to do, and then start narrowing down from there (e.g., location, weather, etc.). 

On 18/01/2018 at 7:13 AM, BabyScientist said:

Do you just HAVE to apply straight out of undergrad? You could take a year to get more significant research experience.

I had the same question here, too. Nothing wrong with taking time off. I took many :-)

p.s., I know this post is quite late, so it might not even be relevant anymore...

Edited by orange turtle
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