How to Apply

Applications must be submitted to the University of Massachusetts Graduate School along with the application fee. Click this link for more information:

If you are interested in learning a bit more about neuroscience PhD programs (e.g. what makes a strong candidate, what to expect for the application process and program) please visit this resource!

TOEFL scores should be sent to the Graduate Admissions Office.

Mailing address:

Graduate Admissions
Room 534, Goodell Building
140 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9333.

The application fee rates are:

  • $85.00 Massachusetts residents
  • $85.00 Other U.S. citizens and permanent residents
  • $85.00 International applicants

No applications are processed by the Graduate School until the application fee has been paid.
The Graduate School offers application fee waivers to eligible domestic students from underrepresented groups who are participants in particular programs.  Learn more...

Fall admission

The NSB admissions committee will begin reviewing applications on November 15th. The application deadline is December 1 of each calendar year for admission in September of the following year. As the NSB Admissions Committee begins its review of applications early in December, it is essential that applications must be submitted to the Graduate School Admissions Office by this deadline. Spring admissions are not considered under normal circumstances. To learn more about about recruitment, ***CLICK HERE***

Accuracy and completeness are extremely important in providing all of the information requested in the application forms.

A minimum of two reference letters are required and they must be submitted no later than December 8. Additional letters also may be provided at the discretion of the applicant. Official transcripts of course work taken at other institutions also are required. Most successful applicants to the NSB Program have a cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 or better. Completion of a bachelor's degree is required for admission to graduate study.

The Personal Statement is one of the most important and informative aspects of the application. This statement is read carefully by the Admissions Committee and by other faculty members who are interested in recruiting a student in any given year. In particular, the review committee needs to know about the life-sciences background of each applicant, why s/he wishes to pursue graduate study in neuroscience and behavior, and why the NSB Program has been selected by the applicant. Applicants should familiarize themselves with the current research interests of NSB faculty (provided on this website). If appropriate, the applicant should indicate which areas of research and faculty laboratories are of greatest interest. If one has not yet decided on a specific area of research interest, this should also be made clear in the Personal Statement. FIrst-year students have the option of rotating between two or more different laboratories. Any relevant information about prior research experience should be provided, as this is a significant factor in the selection of applicants for the on-campus interview process, which is the next stage in the review process.

Applicants whose credentials and preparation for graduate study are competitive will be contacted directly by the Admissions Committee to obtain more information. Promising candidates will be invited to visit the campus for our annual "recruiting weekend". This event provides an important opportunity for applicants, NSB faculty, and current graduate students to interact, and it is an essential part of the final applicant review process. Shortly after visiting the campus, applicants are notified about their status in the applicant pool.

Foreign applicants who have strong credentials must also be interviewed, by telephone and/or in person by an appropriate, designated representative of the NSB Program.

Only highly qualified applicants will be admitted to the NSB Program. Final Graduate School decision on applications is made soon after April 1; financial aid decisions are made by this time.


Application review criteria

The NSB admissions process considers the following review criteria when evaluating applications to our PhD program:

  • Academic Preparation - Course work (**not overall GPA): Can you demonstrate academic preparation leading to your NSB graduate coursework and research? Include information about academic awards.
  • Research Experience - Lab experience and productivity including (published papers, presentations, conference attendance). Can you demonstrate your ability to conduct and/or complete research projects? We are looking for evidence of your ability work independently and problem solve. This might be reflected in your letters of recommendation
  • Synergy with program - Talk about your interest in neuroscience research and the specific research labs or initiatives within NSB that particularly attract your attention.
  • Character - Initiative, creativity, motivation, resilience. Have you overcome adversity in a research setting or work place? Tell us about it. This might be reflected in your letters of recommendation
  • Diversity - As a graduate program, we aim to break down the barriers facing underrepresented communities in higher education/science. We are dedicated to promoting diversity and equity within our entering graduate cohort along with our faculty advisors. If you have specifically contributed to diversity initiatives or have lived experiences please tell us about them.