NYU Neuroscience PhD Acceptance Rate

Last Updated on December 14, 2022

NYU neuroscientist Jordan Castro Rodriguez shares your passion for exploring the brain and its functions. His research contributes to neurobiology by studying the functional neural pathways activated by sleep. After earning his master’s degree in neuroscience, he was accepted into the PhD program at New York University. Learn more about Dr. Rodriguez’s preparation for a neuroscience career and how he balances his love for neurosciences with his art and design interests

There is a single application and admissions committee for the neuroscience graduate training program at NYU. Upon acceptance into the program, each student is admitted into either the Doctoral Program in Neural Science (hosted by CNS) or the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and Physiology (hosted by NI), based in part on a match between each students’ interests and the research themes that are emphasized on each campus. Importantly, once they arrive at NYU, every graduate student has access to courses, laboratories, and training programs offered at both CNS and NI, regardless of the graduate program into which they are admitted. We encourage students to rotate in labs on both campuses and many students join labs on a campus different from the doctoral program into which they are admitted. Our training program provides every student the opportunity to tailor their graduate experience, to explore different research paths, and to experience the distinct intellectual cultures of each NYU campus.
Applications are due by December 1 for admission the following fall

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Admission to our graduate program is highly competitive, and applicants should have superior undergraduate grades, excellent letters of recommendation, and documented research experience. Students seeking admission should have a strong background in one or more of the academic areas involved in neuroscience, such as biology, experimental psychology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, or engineering science. Students with foreign qualifications must demonstrate command of written and spoken English before admission to the program. Qualified women and minority students are especially encouraged to apply. The department does not set minimum GPA, TOEFL, or IELTS scores or share past applicant and accepted student averages of these scores.

GRE tests are not required. Please do not send us GRE test scores. If you do, while the Graduate School will notify you that the scores were received, the scores will not be reviewed or considered by the Admissions Committee. 

Applicants should consult our faculty pages and list labs they might be interested in on their application.  This helps us to ultimately assign students to the two campuses. However, regardless of their home campus, students may choose any lab for their thesis research after admission. Applicants interested in applying to the Shanghai track of the Doctoral program in Neural Science can also apply using the above link, but should select the Shanghai campus on the application form. MD/PhD applications are handled by the Medical Scientist Training Program. Lastly, for those who may be eligible for a fee waiver, please see the GSAS website and apply PRIOR to submitting your application.

For more information, please contact the Directors of Graduate Studies:

​Or associated Administrative Coordinators:

Degrees and Fields of Study


  • Neural Science *

* Neuroscience education at NYU has a decades-long history of excellence and strength. Historically focused in two separate doctoral programs, the Doctoral Program in Neural Science (Faculty of Arts and Science) and the Doctoral Program in Neuroscience & Physiology (Vilcek Institute, School of Medicine), neuroscience education is now harmonized and engages faculty across multiple departments, inter-disciplinary centers, and campuses.

Research, Neuroscience, University of Melbourne

NYU Neuroscience Phd Acceptance Rate

Details about the neuroscience curriculum and extensive pool of neuroscience faculty mentors can be found at http://neuroscience.nyu.edu. There is a single application and admissions committee for the neuroscience training program at NYU that is served by both administrative units. You will be eligible for admission to either program. Our goal is to streamline the application process and give you the opportunity to find the best match for your research interests at NYU.

Doctoral research in neuroscience at NYU is distributed across multiple departments and inter-disciplinary centers. Carefully consider all programs–such as Cognition and Perception–before applying to one.

To apply to the Doctoral Program in Neural Science (Faculty of Arts and Science) and/or the Doctoral Program in Neuroscience and Physiology associated with the Vilcek Institute, please use this GSAS departmental listing, i.e., “Neural Science.”

Undergraduate degrees before the PhD

In theory, you could come from almost any academic background before coming into neuroscience, as long as you also have research experience (see below). According to a recent Society for Neuroscience report, most students who matriculate into Ph.D. programs in the U.S. have degrees in neuroscience, biology, or psychology. However, a huge chunk of applicants also come from chemistry and mathematics, and many students come in with dual degrees (see SfN 2016 for more details).

I was curious about the broader population of neuroscientists beyond those currently enrolled in PhD programs, so I conducted a Twitter survey.

Many, many people had write-in responses. When we pull together all of the responses (n=950), here’s what the breakdown looks like:

There were a host of other undergraduate degrees ranging from biotechnology to animal behavior to economics (okay, isn’t that just very advanced animal behavior?) with one or two folks claiming them. They’re not included in the graph for simplicity, but the full dataset is here. Not surprisingly, the answers for computational neuroscientists were slightly different.

Among the list, there were a few fun answers. Neuroscientist and Journal of Neuroscience Editor-in-Chief Marina Piciotto was a Biology & English major. Famed neuroscientist David Eagleman also had a surprising answer: British & American Literature. “No joke,” he added.

In summary, neuroscientists come from a wide range of backgrounds, and you shouldn’t feel like there’s only one path into a career of neuroscience. Neuroscience is a wonderfully diverse field that touches on almost every other discipline — after all, it is fundamentally the study of how brains (and their owners) interact with the world. Our field is better off with perspectives from every intellectual angle, as well as with people who have thought deeply about very specific subfields.

How competitive is it?

Regardless of your undergraduate major, you should be at the top of your game academically. Neuroscience programs in the U.S. receive anywhere between 5 and 875 program applicants — 170 on average. For the academic year 2016–2017, the average acceptance rate for U.S. PhD programs was 19%. Although there’s more applicants, most programs report that they’re accepting the same number of students, largely because of limited funding from training grants and space in faculty labs. So, it does seem to be getting more competitive, and it’s not clear that more positions for graduate students are going to be opening soon.

PhD program in Neuroscience | Program in Experimental & Molecular Medicine

What are admissions committees looking for?

Most graduate programs will evaluate you on three main categories: your research experience, your GPA (grade point average from college), and your GRE scores (Graduate Record Examinations, a commonly required standardized test in the U.S.). The relative weight of those attributes will vary between school to school, and even depends on the members on the admissions committee. Some schools will set hard cutoffs for the numerical categories there, but they’re typically not disclosive about it. Applicants in 2016 had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.56, and average verbal as well as quantitative GRE scores of 158.

Your best bet is to do as best as you can in those three categories. Of course, if you’re out of college, it’s hard to go back and change your GPA. If you have a low GPA and GRE scores, the best way to improve your chances of getting into graduate school is by spending some time working in a lab.

Cognitive Neuroscience | Psychology

Research experience before graduate school

While there isn’t usually a strict requirement for research experience, a striking 98% of applicants to U.S. PhD programs have at least some previous experience working in lab. Still, you should get some research experience for more than just getting into PhD programs— you should have research experience so that you have insight into whether or not you like doing research.

Your research experience could be in one lab for a long time, or short bursts in other labs. If you’re at a college that doesn’t have a ton of research, there are many summer research programs out there. I found it really informative to find research experiences beyond the brick walls of my small liberal arts school. Many summer programs are also specifically for underrepresented minorities, and most of them will pay you a stipend as well as cover room and board.

Graduate Program in Neuroscience | University of Illinois Chicago

My personal advice is this: Take the courses that keep you engaged and motivate you to learn. If your gut homunculus pulls you into cognitive science, follow that. If you find molecular models dreamy, by all means, build them all. Put in the time and effort to do well on your GREs. Apply to many summer research programs, either at your home institution or beyond. You’ll excel when it becomes less about grades and more about the mysteries that the brain refuses to simply roll out on a red carpet for us. And ultimately, that’s what being a neuroscientist is about, anyway.

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