Admissions FAQs

Do you require a GRE as part of the application?

  • No, because we do not want the substantial cost of this test to prevent anyone from applying. However, if you feel your scores will strengthen your application, you are welcome to submit them.

Is there an application fee?

  • No. We do not charge an application fee.  It will be automatically waived as you proceed through the application.

What makes a strong application?

There is no single "correct" way to do it, no formula. However, strong statements usually incorporate some or all of these elements:

  • We are interested in you as an individual! We love to hear about what questions excite you, what your plans and hopes for the future are, what experiences have informed your thinking, what you hope to learn in graduate school, what makes you happy… play to your strengths and your passions. If you are invited for an interview, you'll have the opportunity to have one-on-ones with grad students and post-docs who are excited to learn about you in a non-evaluative capacity.
  • Identify a few faculty you'd like to work with, and describe how you can see yourself engage with their work. Show that you have taken some time to get a sense of what they are doing and how it fits with your interests and goals. You are encouraged to contact specific faculty members to find out if they are taking new students, and so that your name is on their radar when reviewing applications. See below for some tips on writing a good introductory email for this purpose. (This step is especially important if you don't select that person's name as one of the top 3 faculty you are interested in as part of the online application, because some faculty only review applications they are listed on.) 
  • Research experience is often helpful: if you are going to be doing research for ~5 years, how would you know if you'd enjoy it? It is however not required to apply: there are many paths into brain sciences, including from engineering, computer science, philosophy, and vocational training, in which research experience is not common. Some outstanding scientists didn't get formal research experience opportunities until later.

How do you suggest I contact faculty I'm interested in working with?

  • Faculty love to hear from prospective students! See here for the list of faculty and their email addresses; click through to their lab websites to learn more about their work, or look them up in Google Scholar. If you don't get a reply, you can reach out to a graduate student or postdoc in the lab.
  • A helpful email includes a short introduction of who you are and why you are writing. For instance: "My name is X and I'm considering applying to the PBS graduate program. I am wondering if you expect to take any new graduate students for this upcoming year."
  • Consider including a few sentences about your interests and background. "I am currently working on my senior thesis with Prof. Y on predicting attentional states with fMRI. This experience has made me eager to get into a graduate program but I would want to work with rodents to get at the circuit-level mechanisms."
  • Include your resume and undergraduate transcript.

Do I apply to the program as a whole or to a specific advisor?

  • You apply to the program, and admission decisions are made by the Graduate Committee. However, because the program does not have first-year rotations, you have a primary advisor as soon as you enter the program. Thus, it's a good idea to check to see if faculty members you are interested in working with are recruiting this year. Recommendations from potential advisors who are interested in working with you carry substantial weight in admission decisions; graduate recruiting weekend is one way to meet potential advisors in person. If your interests span multiple labs, co-advising by more than one advisor may be a good fit for you. 

What happens to my application after I submit it?

  • Your specific application will be looked at by any potential advisors who are interested in your application; this can happen because you indicated their name in your application, and/or because you already communicated with them prior to applying.
  • Faculty can suggest who they'd like to invite to the graduate recruiting weekend; the graduate committee compiles all these recommendations and decides the list of invitees. Invitations generally go out mid-December.

What is graduate recruiting weekend?

  • We invite you for an on-site visit to Dartmouth and the department. It's an opportunity for you to get to know potential advisors, current graduate students in the program, and get a sense of  Dartmouth, and the Hanover/Upper Valley area.
  • The weekend includes an informal dinner with current students; short talks introducing the program and research areas across the department, meeting slots with potential advisors, group Q&As, and other events
  • The department will help offset your travel expenses. Meals and lodging are taken care of. If your travel costs present a barrier, contact us and we will work with you to find a solution.

Please note that in light of current circumstances, graduate recruiting weekend for 2021 will look different than our usual recruiting weekend.  Details will be available soon.

What if I missed the application deadline?

  • You can still submit your application, but if it is more than a few days late, it is likely it will not be seen as part of the review process. In that case, you should contact specific faculty you are most interested in working with and they can let you know if they are able to accommodate you.