Admissions

Thank you for your interest in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the University of Michigan! Our diverse student population comes from a wide range of backgrounds from small liberal arts colleges to large research institutions. Our students have undergraduate majors in psychology, biology, and electrical engineering just to name a few. Our students come from Michigan, California, Georgia, Texas, Puerto Rico, Mexico, China and many other places in the US and abroad. With over 130 faculty there is sure to be a lab that fits with your research interests and long term career goals. For any questions contact neuroscience.program@umich.edu

Which way should I apply?

The Neuroscience Graduate Program allows students to apply both directly to the program and through the Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS). For applicants who know they wish to pursue a degree in Neuroscience, the Direct route of admissions is often the best fit. This offers a first year curriculum that is focused almost exclusively on areas within neuroscience, and includes elective course options in other areas of biomedical research. Students who join the program directly may choose to do laboratory rotations with any faculty member affiliated with the Neuroscience Program. PIBS offers first year graduate students interested in biomedical research the flexibility to explore opportunities in any of the 14 graduate programs which together include over 300 laboratories. PIBS admits need to rotate with at least one Neuroscience affiliated faculty member. At the end of the first year students identify which of the 14 programs they will join with several PIBS students joining Neuroscience each year. The difference in routes of admission is mostly one of timing, not content. Both Direct and PIBS first year students take the same Neuroscience specific courses and participate in research.  

Students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States will receive identical packages of financial support, regardless of whether they are admitted directly to the Neuroscience Graduate Program or through PIBS.

The Direct Application deadline is DECEMBER 1. Click here to apply

The PIBS Application deadline is DECEMBER 1. Click here for additional information about PIBS and the application process

What if I am interested in a dual MD/PhD Program?

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) is a dual M.D.-Ph.D. degree program which makes it possible for a small number of outstanding students to earn their doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy degrees concurrently, typically in 8 years. The MSTP is designed primarily for students who are interested in a future career in academic medicine with a focus in basic research related to medicine. The Michigan MSTP is offered cooperatively by the Medical School and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. For additional information about MSTP, click here

What if I am an International Student?

All International applicants are required to apply through PIBS (application deadline is December 1). Admission to PIBS is extremely competitive. PIBS accepts only 5% or less of the international applications received each year. International applicants must submit scores from the TOEFL exam unless the program verifies that English is their native language or they have obtained a Bachelor or Master degree from a US institution.  Click here for additional information about the international application process.  

What are the requirements for admission?

The most important criterion for admission to the Program is a demonstrated aptitude for and commitment to laboratory research in neuroscience. A Bachelor's degree or its equivalent is required. All applicants must meet Rackham's Minimum Requirements for Admission.

Prior to admission an applicant is expected to have obtained preparation in the following:

  • Introductory biology (other courses such as cell biology, physiology, and genetics are recommended)
  • Introductory neuroscience, physiological psychology or animal behavior
  • Mathematics through calculus
  • One year of physics
  • Inorganic and organic chemistry
  • Introductory biochemistry

Students may be admitted to the Neuroscience Program without completion of all of the recommended coursework. The Executive Committee will determine whether additional work needs to be done during the first year in order to remedy any deficiencies in the students background. A completed application requires Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores. An Advanced Test is not required.

How are applications evaluated?

Applications are evaluated by a committee of Neuroscience faculty members through a holistic process. The admissions committee looks at research experience & past publications, letters of recommendation, personal and educational statements, grades and GRE scores. All facets of each application are reviewed and discussed by the committee. There is no minimum GPA or GRE to be admitted, but the average GPA of admitted students over the last 5 years is 3.68 and the average GRE percentiles over the same time period is Quantitative 76th percentile and Verbal 83rd percentile. 

If admitted, how will I be funded and what courses will I take?

Students in the Neuroscience Graduate Program are funded by a variety of sources while in the program including the NGP's training grant; other training grants on campus; Rackham Fellowships; other outside fellowships such as NSF, DoD, NRSA, etc.; faculty members grant funding; after the first year, GSI (teaching); PIBS funds or departmental funds. Funding comes from a wide variety of sources and can change from year to year while a student is in the program. 

Tuition, healthcare coverage and stipend (currently $30,504 per year) are provided. This support is maintained throughout a student's tenure in the program, provided they remain in good academic standing and are making reasonable progress towards the degree as determined by the Executive Committee. It is expected that the student will be directly supported by their thesis mentor starting in the Winter term of their second year.

Students in the NGP take a number of classes in the first year to prepare them for careers in teaching and basic and applied research. The breadth and depth of our curriculum has allowed our alumni to advance to rewarding careers in universities, medical schools, research institutions, governmental entities and scientific industry. Our current required curriculum can be found here, http://neuroscience.web.itd.umich.edu/pre-candidate-courses.  All NGP students are required to teach for one term and present at the NGP seminar twice while a student. The University of Michigan also offer 33 Certificate Programs that our students can take advantage of including a Graduate Teaching Certificate, Science Technology and Public Policy. A full listing can be found here,https://secure.rackham.umich.edu/academic_information/programs/.  The average time to degree in the NGP 5.8 years.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which route of admission is best for me?

          When deciding which route of entry best suits your needs, please consider the following: If a student is solely interested in Neuroscience and has an undergraduate background that has been targeting a graduate career in Neuroscience Research than a direct application may be appropriate.  Also students whose undergraduate emphasis was in psychology or behavioral biology may prefer direct entry into the Neuroscience Program, particularly if their previous studies were not specifically focused on cell and molecular biology.

          PIBS allows students maximal flexibility. It should be emphasized that the difference between first year curricula is primarily one of timing and not of program content. By the end of the second year of study, all Neuroscience Program students, regardless of route of admission, will have completed a sequence of Neuroscience courses that differs, at most, by one course, and all students will have carried out intensive Neuroscience research rotations.

          Students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United State will receive identical packages of financial support, regardless of whether they are admitted directly to the Neuroscience Program, or through PIBS.

I am an International Student with a Bachelor or Master degree from an English speaking institution, do I still need to take the TOEFL?

            NO, if you have been already been awarded a degree from an English speaking institution, even if English is not your first language, you do not need to take the TOEFL.

Who makes admissions decisions?

            The Neuroscience Graduate Program has a committee of 6 faculty members that review all of our applications and makes decisions about recruiting interviews. All PIBS applicants are reviewed by both the Neuroscience admissions committee as well as the committee for their second choice program. The 2 programs work together with PIBS to make decisions about invitations for the interview weekend.

How are applications reviewed?

            Applications are reviewed using a holistic review process.  In this process all the credentials provided by the student are given careful consideration toward determination in the applicant possesses qualities and attributes known to result in the successful completion of the degree program.  Among the attributes, the Neuroscience Graduate Program committee looks for commitment to scientific research including publications. However, a holistic review ensures that no single factor is determinant to acceptance or rejection of a student’s admission.  All applications are reviewed and considered.

Are students interviewed during the admissions process?

            Yes, applicants who are strong candidates for admission will be invited to campus to interview with faculty members and members of the admissions committee. Recruits will spend time learning about the Graduate Program, exploring Ann Arbor and getting to know our graduate students.

When will I know about my admissions decision?

            All applicants will know the admissions decision no later than March 1st. Applicants invited for interviews will hear from us about making travel arrangements and will know the admissions decisions within the few weeks after interviews.

How will I pay for my graduate education if admitted?

            All of our students receive a stipend (currently $30,504 per year), tuition and health insurance while in good standing with the Neuroscience Graduate Program. This funding comes from a variety of sources depending on your year of study, eligibility for training grants and faculty mentor.

Will I have to teach as part of my training?

            The Neuroscience Graduate Program views a teaching experience as key to the professional development of its students.  Therefore, all Neuroscience Graduate Program students are required to serve as a Graduate Student Instructor for at least 1 term during their training.

When can I start my first research rotation?

            Students can choose to start their first research rotation in the summer before their first year. This rotation must start no later than June 15th and should be coordinated through the program office so that funding can start immediately upon arrival.

Which labs are available for research rotations?

            Neuroscience students can rotate with any of our 120 faculty members. Specific rotations are set up between the faculty member and the student. Faculty have a variety of reasons for accepting or not accepting students for rotations. If you have concerns, please contact the director. Students admitted through PIBS typically rotate with Neuroscience faculty, but can also choose from any of the faculty of the other 14 departments and programs that participate with PIBS.

How long does a PhD in Neuroscience take?

            The average time for Neuroscience Graduate students to be awarded their PhD is 5.8 years.

What can I do with a PhD in Neuroscience?

             Students receiving a PhD for the Neuroscience Graduate Program are highly successful. Many students get outstanding post-doctoral opportunities with top scientists at academic/research intensive institutions. A strong proportion of those then move on to a tenure track academic position, while many others receive attractive job offers in non-academic positions, such as public policy, scientific editing, NIH administration and medical private practice among others. 

            PhD students are assisted in professional development via activities at the Neuroscience Prgram level, the Rackham Graduate School http://www.rackham.umich.edu/current-students/graduate-student-success/pd , the Medical School and University. They are helped in receiving academic post-doctoral and industry/governmental positions by their dissertation advisor and professional scientific/career mentors as well as the administration of the NGP.