breadth : diversity : exploration
Washington UNiversity Program in Neuroscience
General Information
Candidate Interview


Admissions : Application questions

Can I apply online?
Yes. Click here

Who do I contact with my admission questions?
Please contact the Neuroscience Program administrator:
Sally Vogt
Phone: 800.852.9074
What is the application deadline?
December 1.

Is there an application fee?

Which test scores are required with the application?
A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test score is required. The test must be taken within 5 years of application. A subject test score is recommended, but not required. Test scores are one of several criteria used to make admissions decisions.

Will you accept MCAT scores instead of GRE scores?
We do not accept MCAT scores in place of GRE scores.

To which institution and department code should I send my GRE score report?
Institution: 6912
Department Code: 0299

What about the TOEFL?
You must submit an official and current TOEFL score if you have not completed a minimum of two years of study at an institution located in an English-speaking country. A current score is one received within 2 years of application. All applicants must comply with the stated guidelines and no waivers are possible.

To which institution and department code should I send my TOEFL score report?
Institution: 6929
Department Code: 045

What are the academic prerequisites?
We welcome applicants from many different areas of training who are committed to a career in research. Training in natural, physical or engineering sciences is the most common, but others are encouraged for consideration. The strongest applicants have had significant research experience and a strong undergraduate record in their area of concentration, and in related disciplines. Courses in Biology, Psychology, Chemistry, or Neuroscience are required. A course in Calculus is recommended.

Is there a financial aid application or assistantship application to complete?
No. All students admitted to the Division automatically receive a full stipend plus health coverage and tuition remission. For more information, see the Division Guide to Student Policies and click on Administrative Support.

Is a personal interview required, or will you accept telephone interviews?
The division now allows video conferencing interviews. These are reserved for occasions when it is not possible for the student to come in person.

What’s involved in the interview?
We ask for a personal interview in order to meet competitive applicants, and to allow them to see the Program, visit the University and interact with current students. A typical interview visit is ~ 2 days and includes meeting with 5 or 6 professors in your area (s) of research interest, as well as informational sessions and social gatherings with current students. See Candidate Interview for more details.

Who pays for the costs of traveling for interviews?
For domestic applicants, the Neuroscience program will cover all travel costs for the interview trip, as well as costs for lodging and meals. For international applicants, the Neuroscience Program will cover the same costs, except for travel to and from a US point of entry.

When are admissions decisions announced?
Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis, as soon as possible after the individual applicant completes the interview process.

Admissions : Program questions

How do I know if I am a competitive applicant?
There are many applicants for each position available in the graduate program. Several criteria are used to assess an applicant's potential for success. Letters of recommendation from faculty members are very important. The applicant's responses to essay questions on the application form, especially the research description, are also heavily weighed in assessing an applicant's potential for graduate study. In addition, each applicant's academic background and test scores are closely reviewed. Most successful applicants to the Division score at or above the 80th percentile in the Graduate Record Examination general test and have grade point averages of 3.3 - 3.8.

How many students enter the neuroscience program each year?
The number of students entering the program averages 12 people a year.

How long does it take to complete the degree?
The average time from start to finish is about 5.5 years.

What type of careers are graduates of the Program now following?

Graduates of the Neuroscience program find success in post-doctoral appointments, industry, and faculty positions in both research and undergraduate institutions. Several recent graduates have also pursued neuroscience-related careers in journalism, government and law.

Program Requirements

How much teaching will I do?

Ph.D. students contribute one semester of teaching assistance in undergraduate and/or graduate courses. This provides a necessary experience in the fundamentals of teaching that is often a component of a successful scientific career. Should you be interested in further experience, there are resources to help you develop a teaching portfolio and opportunities to teach topics at a variety of levels.

What are laboratory rotations, and how many are allowed before deciding on a laboratory to do my thesis?
Laboratory rotations give you the chance to learn about a specific lab and professor in more depth before choosing to stay in a particular lab for thesis work. Three rotations during the course of the first year are encouraged.

How do I choose a rotation lab?
The goal of rotations is to help you find a laboratory environment and a project that will excite and challenge you as you develop in your career.

Are there any restrictions in choosing a thesis laboratory?
While you can rotate with any professor you wish, because the goal is to find a thesis lab, rotations should be with members of the DBBS, and with professors who have space for you in their lab should you want to stay there for your thesis.

St. Louis

What is living in St. Louis like?
St. Louis is a great place to live. For a student the cost of living is low, and there are many activities going on in and around the city. Applicants get to experience this first hand during the interview process. The number of exciting resources and opportunities in the St. Louis area is far greater than the number of hours a student has to enjoy them. The weather is moderate with long springs and falls, and a generally mild winter.

If I am from a background historically underrepresented in the sciences, how can I get information about diversity at Washington University and living in St Louis?
The Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences is actively engaged in the implementation of University-wide efforts to recruit and retain exceptional students of color.    Additionally, DBBS is involved in extensive outreach to the community via research programs designed to provide summer laboratory experiences for pre-college and college students. Rochelle Smith coordinates diversity initiatives for the Division through the Office of Diversity Programs and Community Outreach.    For more information regarding diversity efforts and/or living in St. Louis, please contact Ms. Smith as indicated below:
Rochelle Smith
Manager, Diversity Programs & Community Outreach
Campus box 8226
660 S. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110-1093
Phone: 800.852.9074 or 314.362.7963
Fax: 314.362.3369

Where do students typically live?
Neuroscience students live all over the city and suburbs of St. Louis, in apartments, houses, and condos. Students often choose to live in the artsy Central West End, which is an active and pleasant neighborhood adjacent to the medical campus of Washington University, and on the free shuttle route.

Will I need a car? Is there any Mass Transit?
You can survive without a car in St. Louis but it is extremely helpful to enjoy full access to the city. There is, however, an extensive free shuttle bus service that besides traveling between the undergraduate campus and the medical school also provides service to a nation-wide grocery store, Target, specialty shops and a large fashion mall. In addition, St. Louis is home to a Metrorail system (Metrolink) that runs from the airport through the medical campus and to many points downtown.  Access to the Metrolink is free of charge to Washington University students. There is also a more extensive bus system (also free for Washington University students) throughout the city.

Health Insurance

How does student health insurance work?
Student health insurance is guaranteed with your admission to the university. While there is no prescription or dental plan, you have the option to join a low cost dental program ($10/month) and $100 worth of prescriptions are covered every year. For details see

What about health insurance for my spouse and child?

For details see

Fellowship : Special Program

What is the Olin Fellowship for women?
The Olin Fellowship is available by application to women entering all graduate programs and departments of the university. Four years of stipend and tuition funding is awarded, and the Olin Fellowship also offers numerous social and educational activities including a yearly conference planned by fellowship members.

What is the Markey program?
The Lucille P. Markey Special Emphasis Pathway in Human Pathobiology is a two-year course of study which supplements the Ph.D. programs in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine. It consists of a course (Pathobiology of Human Disease States), an individualized Clinical Mentorship, and the Annual Educational Retreat. Each year six to seven students currently enrolled in the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences graduate programs are selected as Markey Students and two to four postdoctoral fellows within the School of Medicine are selected as Markey Fellows. Please see the DBBS website for more information.

What is the Cognitive, Computational, and Systems Neuroscience Curriculum Pathway?
The Cognitive, Computational, and Systems Neuroscience Curriculum Pathway (CCSN) is a specialized curriculum that is available to students who are pursuing the Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience, Psychology, or Neural Engineering (this includes students in the MSTP program who are seeking a Ph.D. in one of these areas). Traditional anatomical, physiological, and behavioral techniques are combined with cutting-edge engineering approaches to non-invasive neuroimaging as well as computational strategies essential for modeling brain function. The CCSN curriculum helps students develop the critical thinking skills necessary to tackle problems using interdisciplinary approaches.

What is the Imaging Sciences Pathway?
The Imaging Sciences Pathway offers the opportunity for additional training in the biology, physics, and chemistry of imaging. The coursework covers an array of imaging modalities, including optical microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and positron emission
tomography (PET). Students can elect to receive advanced training either in instrumentation or in contrast agent development. See Imaging Sciences Pathway website.

Should I apply for a national fellowship?
Students are encouraged to apply for nationally competitive fellowships. Click here for information on an enhanced stipend.

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