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How to Make Yourself a Competitive Grad School Candidate


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If you plan to pursue a graduate degree, consider the ways you can differentiate yourself, as suggested by neuroscience program faculty.

David Talmage, PhD
Stony Brook University

“Do homework about the program where you will be interviewing. If you don’t seem to know who you’re interacting with — if you haven’t looked at the faculty list — it’s a big turnoff. Also be able to speak intelligently about your experience. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, and you don’t have to be published, but showing that you’ve engaged intellectually in your research project really sets you apart. One of the key elements of the interview and application process is your ability to communicate that you understand what research is, why you’re going to graduate school, and why it excites you.”

Thomas Naselaris, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina

“Have a passion for neuroscience and research, and some technical training to match your passion for studying the brain.”

Richard Bodnar, PhD
City University of New York

“Some degree of experience working in a laboratory setting to give you the abilities and skills to engage in and understand collaborative research.”

Phil Quirk, PhD
Colorado State University

“Quantitative skills are most important, particularly if you want to do cognitive neuroscience.”

What skills and qualities do you look for in an incoming graduate student?


*Comments adapted from interviews conducted at Neuroscience 2016.

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Manish Asthana

Another suggestion is that try to interact with philosophers, biologists, neuroscientists and get their input on your research question. This way one can develop a key skill to interact with other life scientist which will also be helpful to overcome social communication problem.

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  • 2 weeks later...
sharenarice

Strong letters of recommendation from research experiences can compensate for weaknesses in grades, but strong grades cannot compensate for poor letters of recommendation. Try to find a good PI/mentee match for your research experience, work on a project that you find interesting, and bring enthusiasm to your lab. The resulting letter of recommendation can open doors for your graduate school interviews. If a PhD program wants to interview you, it means they are strongly considering accepting you. Bring your best self to the interviews. It is common to be interviewed by six different professors within a single day.

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