Program Requirement FAQs
All Neuroscience PhD students receive a stipend and a full tuition waiver. Student stipend in 2023-24 is $38,496 (as of July 1, 2023). The program will also cover the cost of Brandeis health insurance for the student each year they are in the program.
Prospective students can apply online at the Brandeis University GSAS website. All interested applicants must submit a formal application to the graduate school; we do not accept students directly into labs.
The application fee is $75. More information is available on the GSAS website (including information pertaining to application fee waiver requests).
The GRE is no longer accepted as a part of your application. If you submit scores, they will be removed from your application before review.
Almost all international applicants must submit official test score results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE-Academic). An applicant should check with the testing agency to ensure that their scores are still valid and that the agency will be able to send an official score report.
Students who are citizens of the following countries, or who have graduated from an accredited degree program within these countries, are exempt from this requirement: Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and the United Kingdom.
While the program will consider these scores within the context of the entire application, the graduate school does have strict exam score requirements. This information, as well as the extended policies for this requirement, is available.
The Neuroscience PhD program accepts applications for the Fall semester only. The deadline for applications is Dec. 1, but applicants are encouraged to complete their applications in advance of this deadline. All decisions are typically made by April 15.
The Graduate School will coordinate all aspects of your visa with the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO), once accepted into the program. More information about requirements for international students is available on the GSAS website. More information for international students can be found on the ISSO website.
If you would like to be considered for the master's program if denied admission from the PhD program, please contact the Division of Science Graduate Affairs Office by email or call 781-736-2352.
A spot in the PhD program is not guaranteed for master's students. Brandeis MS students who wish to transfer to the PhD program must formally apply to the PhD program. The PhD admissions committees will consider such applications within the context of the entire applicant pool. However, should a MS student be accepted into the PhD program, they will be allowed to transfer any eligible (i.e., those that meet the program requirements and specifications) courses towards their PhD course requirements. The time spent as an MS student will count towards the three-year-minimum residency for the PhD program.
Applicants do not need to contact anyone in the program before applying.
It is not necessary for applicants to contact faculty members in advance of admission regarding joining their lab. Applicants who are particularly interested in a specific faculty member should still apply directly to the program. Faculty members cannot accept graduate students directly into their labs before acceptance into the program. All PhD students must rotate through four labs before joining a lab.
If you have any questions about the program or about the application process, please contact the Division of Science Graduate Affairs Office by email or call 781-736-2352.
Students are required to take six graduate level courses, usually three per semester, and pass with a B- or higher. These courses must be "graduate-level" (i.e. 100 or higher) and be listed or cross-listed in the Neuroscience program section of the Brandeis Bulletin. Exceptions to this must be approved by the graduate committee.
The six courses must include Nbio 140b (Principles of Neuroscience), Biol 107 (Data Analysis and Statistics Workshop), NBio 108 (Research Design),and one course focusing on reading, discussing and writing about primary scientific literature. In addition, all students must take the Graduate Student Research Seminars (Biol 350) each semester, The Topics in Neuroscience Journal Club (Nbio 306) each semester, and Responsible Conduct of Research (Cont 300b) or equivalent.
All Neuroscience PhD students conduct an original investigation under the guidance and mentorship of their thesis advisor over the course of their time as a graduate student. By the end of their first year, they will have formally joined a lab and begun dissertation work. Students will write a dissertation of their results and are expected to have at least one first-author paper accepted or published in a quality journal at the time of their thesis defense.
Faculty members cannot accept graduate students directly into their labs prior to acceptance into the program. All Neuro PhD students must complete four research rotations in their first year to aid in their choice of dissertation lab. The choice of laboratory is made jointly by the student and the faculty member in whose lab the rotation is to take place. Students may choose to rotate with any member of the neuroscience program, or other members of the life sciences community.
To aid in the rotation selection process, the Life Sciences programs hold a "faculty bazaar" during orientation week. This is a three-night series of short research presentations (with dinner) designed to acquaint students with research opportunities at Brandeis. Students will be assigned to their first rotation and subsequent rotations will be jointly arranged between the student and the faculty member in whose lab the rotation is to take place.
All Neuro PhD students are required to serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for two semesters, typically both semesters of their second year. TA assignments will be determined in the summer preceding the second year.
All Neuro PhD students must complete a qualifying exam at the end of their second year. The exam consists of a written research proposition outlining the student's expected dissertation project. This proposition is then defended in front of a faculty committee. Successful completion is required for advancement in the program.
Once thesis work has begun, each student is required to meet at least once per year with their thesis committee to evaluate their dissertation progress. Specific PhD thesis requirements are set by the student's advisor and the thesis committee. As a rough guideline, a PhD student should have at least one first-author paper accepted or published at the time of their thesis defense.
With approval of the thesis committee, the student will write and submit a dissertation of their results. After submission of the dissertation, the candidate will give a public thesis seminar to the university community, and on the same day, defend the work in an oral exam to the dissertation committee.