Routes of Admission

The Application Deadline is December 1st!

There are 2 ways to apply.  Which one is best for me?

Please note that prospective students must apply through one of the two routes highlighted below to matriculate into our graduate program. If you are an international student, you must apply via the Program in Biomedical Sciences. Individual faculty members are not able to accept a student into their laboratory until the student has matriculated into the program via one of the following routes and have met program requirements.   

For more information navigating the admissions process and a PhD in neuroscience, we refer you to this article, "Demystifying Graduate School: Navigating a PhD in Neuroscience and Beyond", as well as the information we have highlighted below that is specific to our program. 

Additionally, for those interested in dually pursuing an MD/PhD degree, may apply through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP).

Applicants choosing to apply DIRECT to the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) know they would like to obtain a degree in Neuroscience. Many applicants coming from a systems or behavioral background prefer to apply via this route.  

Applicants choosing to apply through PIBS have a strong interest in Neuroscience but might also have overlapping interests in related fields like Cell and Developmental Biology, Pharmacology, and Physiology. The PIBS path leaves open the option of switching to one of the other 12 degree programs that PIBS encompasses (link).

The DIRECT pathway CANNOT accept international applicants   International applicants MUST apply through PIBS
Ability to rotate in any of the >150 labs on campus that are affiliated with the NGP   PIBS applicants can be domestic and foreign.
DIRECT students can rotate in > 150 labs associated with the Neuroscience Graduate Program, and beyond with permission.    Ability to rotate in the >500 labs that are part of the PIBS program. If you decide to do your dissertation research in a lab not affiliated with the NGP, the lab PI would need to become affiliated with the NGP or you would need to change to a different PIBS degree.
DIRECT students take the courses detailed on the neuroscience curriculum page.   In addition to the courses required of DIRECT students, PIBS students take the PIBS Seminar during their first year.
Come in with a cohort of ~15 Neuroscience PhD students and belong to a community of >80 current Neuroscience PhD students. PIBS students also have connections to the broader community of PIBS students, which consists of ~90 incoming students each year.
The DIRECT and PIBS paths provide the same stipend and health insurance.  There is no financial or benefits difference between the two paths.  Both paths guarantee stipends and benefits for all students in good standing throughout the entirety of their graduate studies.


It should be noted that the differences in Direct and PIBS admissions is purely one of timing and not content. Both routes of admission will complete the same neuroscience courses with the NGP. Students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States will receive identical packages of financial support, regardless of route of admission.

*The GRE is NOT required for either Direct or PIBS admissions