The Program in Neuroscience (PiN) is a full-time lab-based PhD program comprising a core curriculum that encompasses the interrelated disciplines of neuroscience, elective requirements in computational neuroscience and neuroanatomy, and training across multiple research areas and techniques through first-year lab rotations and dissertation research supported by a robust advising structure. The program also offers an optional certificate track in computational neuroscience.

Our students come from a wide range of racial, cultural, socio-economic, and academic backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they are driven by their passion for scientific research. They bring curiosity, vision, grit, and resilience to experimental design and implementation in a research and learning environment characterized by collegiality and collaboration. They learn how to ask scientific questions, design and drive research projects, optimize mentorship opportunities, and carve their own career path while collectively striving to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the scientific community to shape a better future for all. If this sounds like you and what you’re looking for in a graduate program, we’d love to hear from you!

PiN Admissions Demystified


Basic eligibility requirements for admission to PiN include a bachelor’s degree and strong preparation in the sciences. While there are no specific degree subject, course, or research requirements, our curriculum assumes rigorous undergraduate coursework in the sciences, including biology, chemistry, and physics, and prior lab research experience. We welcome applicants who have trained outside of neuroscience and biology, but applicants are expected to have a demonstrated interest in neuroscience. Recognizing that not all undergraduate students have access to the same research opportunities and advising resources, PiN has established an in-house post-baccalaureate program (PiNBAC, launched in 2021) for students from underrepresented backgrounds and offers informal advising to prospective applicants (see Virtual Open Houses under "How to Apply" below). Many of our current students gained research experience after completing their undergraduate degree through a post-baccalaureate program or as lab assistants or technicians with increasing independence and responsibility, before applying.

Selection Factors

Our committee takes a holistic approach to application review, carefully reading every section of the application in order to gain insight into the whole person in the context of their unique lived experience. We look for applicants who demonstrate the ability to “think like scientists” through prior lab research, whose academic training has prepared them for successful research in their area of interest, who have made the most of the opportunities available to them, who have shown leadership and resilience, and who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Most of our successful applicants have at least a year’s worth of sustained research experience completed through their undergraduate program, through a post-baccalaureate program, or working in a lab as a research assistant or technician with increasing independence and responsibility. 

How to Apply

Virtual Open Houses

PiN hosts a series of virtual open houses for prospective applicants in October and November each year, where the admissions chair and program directors are joined by current faculty and students to discuss all aspects of the program and the application process. See below for dates and event links!

Completing Your Application

All applications must be submitted via the GSAS Admissions applicant portal and are due with all supporting materials by December 1. The applicant portal opens in September each year.

Selecting PiN as the Degree Program

On the GSAS application, first select “Division of Medical Sciences” under Degree Program, then select “Neuroscience” under Area of Interest.

Statement of Purpose

Through the SoP, we’re looking to get to know each applicant as a person and as a scientist. How did your background and lived experience help shape you as a scientist? What are your interests and goals in graduate school? How do your research experiences and goals fit within this context? You should briefly establish a contextual framework, and we are excited to see a summary of your research experience, including the question(s)/topic(s) of your research, their importance, your hypotheses, how you tested your hypotheses, your findings, possible outcomes, and how you interpreted those outcomes. You are welcome to mention multiple projects as they relate to your trajectory, but you should spend extra time highlighting your most significant research project. The word limit for the SoP is 1,000 words.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation (we can accept up to four). Letters from research advisors are the most informative. Your letter writers should know you well and should be able to speak to your intellectual character and your other qualities as a scientist. Letters from course instructors can be helpful, but letters from research advisors are preferred.


Applicants should upload an unofficial copy of their transcript(s) to complete their application via the GSAS applicant portal and will be able to add fall term grades after the December 1 deadline as needed. Only matriculating students are required to submit official transcripts (with a deadline in July before enrollment). The PiN admissions committee reviews transcripts considering whether each applicant's completed coursework provides sufficient background knowledge for their research area of interest and whether their academic performance in the relevant courses predicts success in their area of interest.


PiN no longer accepts GRE scores (as of 2019). If you submit them, they will not be seen by our admissions committee.


If English is not your native language and you completed your undergraduate degree in a language other than English, you are required to demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting TOEFL (minimum 100) or IELTS Academic (minimum 7.0) scores. We are not able to accept any other proof of proficiency. This requirement applies to all applicants regardless of residency or citizenship status. A master’s degree or other graduate degree is not accepted as proof of English proficiency. More here.

Application Fee Waiver

GSAS is committed to ensuring that the application fee does not create a financial obstacle. Applicants can determine eligibility for a fee waiver by completing a series of questions in the Application Fee section of the application. Once these questions have been answered, the application system will provide an immediate response regarding fee waiver eligibility.  More here.

Review Process

The PiN admissions committee comprises current PiN faculty with substantive experience advising doctoral students. Committee members complete diversity, equity, and inclusion training in admissions prior to application review. Each application is read by multiple committee members, who take a holistic approach to review (i.e., carefully reading every section of the application in order to gain insight into the whole person in the context of their unique lived experience). All applicants are reviewed in the same pool regardless of citizenship status or other demographic factors. The committee invites around 50 applicants to interview and makes around 30 offers for an average of 22 places in each incoming class.

Interview Weekend

All finalists are invited to interview on campus in Boston the third weekend in January. We schedule five faculty interviews and one student interview for each applicant based on research interests and applicant requests, on Friday, in addition to offering recruitment events Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening. Interviews are very casual but focused on scientific conversation. Our interviewers are excited to talk to you about their research and to hear about yours! PiN student interviewers are given the same weight as faculty interviewers in the interview evaluation process. The interview weekend is designed to help applicants get to know us as a community, get to know each other, and have fun along the way!



GSAS applicant portal opens


Virtual open houses

Dec 1

Application deadline

Late Dec

Interview invites sent out

Jan 19-21

Interview weekend


Offers sent out by GSAS


Waitlist offers sent out

Apr 15

Decision deadline

2022 Admissions Open Houses



135 total students | average entering class 22

30% international | 19% underrepresented minority backgrounds | 46% male, 54% female

Student demographics
Male-female current student snapshot

URM students by entering class 2018-2021

9.5% 2018 | 15% 2019 | 19% 2020 | 36.7% 2021