Graduate Neuroscience Training Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute Ph.D. Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP)  
Who are the Training Faculty?

The FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute Neuroscience Graduate Program unites scientists, educators and students across multiple Colleges, Institutes and Departments where neuroscience faculty pursue their research. The NGP program faculty and their areas of research can be found here. This information can help you identify faculty you would be interested in working with. The names of these faculty should be added to your on-line application.

Will I be financially supported throughout graduate training?

Yes, if you are a student in good standing and continue to make satisfactory progress toward your degree. During the Fall and Spring Semesters of their first year, students are fully supported by the Brain Institute. In subsequent semesters, support is derived from a mixture of funds derived from the Brain Institute, laboratory research awards, personal fellowships and/or teaching assistantships. Regardless of the source of funding, financial support includes a 12-month, $35,000 stipend, full tuition (tuition does not cover fees), and FAU Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan coverage. All members of the Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO) have their Society for Neuroscience (SFN) membership fee covered by the Brain Institute and have access to travel awards to attend the SFN and related meetings each year.

Will I have the opportunity to gain teaching experience during graduate training?

Yes, NGP students are guaranteed teaching assistantships if needed once they complete the Spring semester of their first year. These teaching assistantships provide for a mentored teaching experience within undergraduate courses in neuroscience or related disciplines.

What are research rotations?

During the first year, NGP students pursue three research rotations, spending ~8 weeks in the laboratories of potential Ph.D. mentors. During this time, students are introduced to the research themes, technical approaches, and interpersonal dimensions associated with each laboratory. Mentors are able to assess the suitability of each student for advanced study into the topics pursued through their laboratories. By the end of the third rotation, students join a specific lab which they pursue their graduate training. Joining a lab is a mutual decision between student and mentor.

What courses are taken by NGP students during the first year?

Students take a synchronized two semester sequence of neuroscience courses that introduce them to fundamental concepts and methods in the cellular, molecular and physiological foundations of neuroscience and how these areas contribute to theoretical and experimental evaluations of brain structure and function at multiple levels. Students are introduced to the primary literature in these areas and to historical and leading neuroscientists whose work provides a personal narrative for the challenges and discoveries underlying present day research. Students also take coursework that introduces them to broader aspects of their graduate training and in biostatistics. Electives may be substituted depending on background. Students take more specialized courses and electives in their second year, once they joined a specific lab.

In addition to taking courses, conducting research, and gaining teaching experience, what else do students in the Neuroscience Program do?

Throughout their graduate training, students entering through the NGP participate in the Neuroscience Seminar Series, where they get to meet with visiting neuroscientists from around the country. We also encourage participation in the FAU Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO). The NSO works to promote, support, and link graduate students across the field of neuroscience by bringing together scientists of various backgrounds while also educating the general public. NSO students also cultivate a unified neuroscience community by keeping members informed of, and encouraging active participation in NSO activities. These activities are also augmented by activities of neuroscience organizations on the FAU campus from the Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.

How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. in the NGP at FAU?

FAU Brain Institute NGP students are expected to complete their Ph.D. requirements in approximately 5 years. Stipends and healthcare benefit support after the five-year point are determined on an individual basis based on program resources, student fellowships and other resources.

How do I contact faculty and students in the Program?

We encourage you to contact program faculty whose research you are interested in, even before you apply to the Program. You should indicate that you have been in contact with particular faculty in your personal statement, that you will upload in your on-line application.

What is the FAU Doctor of Philosophy with Major in Neuroscience Program admission and degree requirements?

Requirements for the program can be found here in the FAU catalog.

The Neuroscience Graduate Doctoral Program (NGP) is a multi-college, multi-institute interdisciplinary degree program organized in partnership with the FAU Brain Institute. Graduate-level instruction is provided by faculty in multiple departments located in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the College of Education, and the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College. Affiliated faculty from the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience also participate in the program. (Minimum of 72 credits required) *please refer to the FAU Catalog for detailed information for the admission and degree requirements.

What if I have other questions not listed here?

General questions concerning the NGP can be sent to and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible. Please also feel free to contact the Brain Institute Education Coordinator, Ms. Petersen, at

Questions About Admissions and Support Associated with the NGP  
What undergraduate major should I have?

We will consider applicants with any undergraduate major, as many provide appropriate background for graduate training in neuroscience. Applicants from biology, biochemistry, chemistry, neuroscience, psychology (experimental/biological or cognitive emphasis), psychobiology, physiology, mathematics, physics and zoology backgrounds are most typical of those pursuing graduate study in neuroscience disciplines.

What classes should I take as an undergraduate?

While there are no required courses to enter the Neuroscience Graduate Program at FAU, some of the following courses are excellent precursors to the field of neuroscience:

  • Biological courses, including cell biology, physiology, genetics
  • Neuroscience related courses, such as basic neurobiology, behavioral neuroscience courses (e.g., introductory biopsychology, learning and memory, drugs and behavior)
  • Chemistry courses, including biochemistry are considered excellent foundations
  • Math through at least one course of calculus, the more the better
  • Introductory statistics
  • Independent research with a faculty member

How important is my personal statement?

The personal statement is an important component of the application. You should outline your research interest and goals and how training for a doctoral degree, and its completion will help you achieve your career goals. Also describe in detail any prior research and/or laboratory experience (including a description of the research question, the methods used, your findings and conclusions). Include in the statement the names of faculty mentors whom you might like to work with and be interviewed by. We strongly encourage you to contact our faculty mentors at any stage in the admissions process, even before you have applied. The identification of these faculty will not limit your choices of labs once you are here, but will help us determine whether there is a good match between your interests and our program.

Should I have research experience before entering graduate school?

If possible, you should have research experience before entering graduate school. Having research experience will help you to determine whether a research career is something you will enjoy, orient you toward areas of neuroscience where you are most passionate, and you will get a better idea of what life in graduate school will be like. Also, faculty members with whom you do research can write informative letters of recommendation about your probability of success in graduate school.

Can I apply to enter the program in spring or summer?

Admission to the FAU Brain Institute Neuroscience Graduate Program only occurs for the fall semester. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 1st of each year.

When will I be notified if I have been selected for an interview?

After the December 1st deadline when the application closes, the FAU Graduate College will forward the applications for the Admissions Committee to review. Only those applications that are complete and have met all requirements will be reviewed by the Committee. The Committee will then select applicants to invite for interviews, and those selected will be notified via email from the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute in late December to early January.

Questions About GPA and GRE Scores  
What is the minimum GPA needed for admission?

Our minimum GPA for the NGP is 3.4, however, the Admissions Committee considers all aspects of the application, not only GPA, but also what courses an applicant has taken, research experience, letters of recommendation, and the applicant's personal statement. Strong qualifications in some areas may offset weaker qualifications in other areas.

What is the minimum GRE Score needed for admission?

GRE scores are not required, but can be reported in your application if you have taken the exam.

Questions About TOEFL Scores  
Do I need to take the TOEFL?

International students from non-English speaking countries must furnish evidence of proficiency in English from: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The minimum university requirement for TOEFL is 500 (Paper-Based Test) and 61 (Internet Based Test). The minimum university requirement for IELTS is a band score of 6.0. Note: Applicants are responsible for planning to schedule the test(s). Students who have completed a minimum of two years of post-secondary education in the United States are exempt from this requirement.

What are FAU's code for standardized tests (TOEFL)?

The FAU standardized test school code: TOEFL – 5229

What constitutes an "official copy of TOEFL score"

An official copy of TOEFL report, are scores that are sent directly to FAU by the Educational Testing Service.

Do I need to take a TOEFL exam if I originate from a country where English is an official language and is the language of instruction in higher education?

Please see below for a list of countries in which English is the official language and is the language of instruction in higher education. International applicants who originate from countries on the below list do not need to submit TOEFL scores.

Anguilla Grenada St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Antigua and Barbuda Guyana Scotland
Australia Ireland, Northern Seychelles
Bahamas Ireland, Republic of Sierra Leone
Barbados Jamaica Singapore
Belize Kenya Solomon Islands
Bermuda Lesotho South Africa
Botswana Liberia Swaziland
British Virgin Islands Malawi Tanzania
Cameroon Malta Tonga
Canada (except Quebec) Mauritius Trinidad and Tobago
Cayman Islands Montserrat Turks and Caicos Islands
Dominica Namibia Uganda
England New Zealand United Kingdom
Fiji Nigeria Vanuatu
Gambia Papua New Guinea Wales
Ghana St. Kitts and Nevis Zambia
Gibraltar St. Lucia Zimbabwe

Contact Us

FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute
Research Office, Jupiter campus
Room 201F, MC-22
5353 Parkside Drive, Jupiter, FL 33458
phone: 561.799.8100

FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute
Education Office, Boca Raton campus
Bldg. SE 43, Room 103A
777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431
phone: 561.297.4989