Graduate Neuroscience Training Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions About the FAU Brain Institute Graduate Neuroscience Training Program (GNTP)  
Who are the Training Faculty?

The FAU Brain Institute Graduate Neuroscience Training Program faculty are divided across three separate degree programs; Integrative Biology – Neuroscience (IB-NS), Experimental Psychology (Exp Psych), and Complex Systems and Brain Sciences (CSBS) – each program maintains its own faculty mentor list and can be viewed via the GNTP websites here, or the degree program websites here.

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, $30,000 stipend, full tuition (tuition does not cover fees), and health insurance (up to $3,000/yr). Last, all members of the Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO) have their Society for Neuroscience (SFN) membership supported 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. GNTP 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, GNTP 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 and related Ph.D. training program within which they pursue their graduate training. Joining a lab is a mutual decision between student and mentor.

What courses are taken by GNTP 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 have selected one of the three supported Ph.D. programs for advanced study.

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 GNTP 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 Scripps Research Institute and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.

How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. in the Graduate Neuroscience Training Program at FAU?

FAU Brain Institute Graduate Neuroscience Training Program 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 faculty whose research programs 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. Faculty mentors can be found listed under the three-degree programs on our website here.

What if I have other questions not listed here?

General questions concerning the GNTP 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 GNTP  
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. It is important to explore the degree programs supported by the GNTP ( Integrative Biology – Neuroscience, Experimental Psychology, Complex Systems and Brain Sciences) via their statements of desired backgrounds as you develop your application.

What classes should I take as an undergraduate?

While there are no required courses to enter the Graduate Neuroscience Training 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 Graduate Neuroscience Training Program only occurs for Fall Semester. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 1st of each year.

I've sent in all my required materials, how long until I find out if I've been admitted?

After the December 1st deadline for application materials and during the months of January, February and March, the Admissions Committee meets to review the applications, decide on nominations for various internal fellowships, and to plan for interviews. We will notify you by email when your application materials have been finalized or you may contact us at After you have been recommended for admittance to the GNTP and to the Graduate College at FAU, you will be notified, and will have to formalize your application materials before an official offer is received.

Who can I contact to get more information about the application process or specifically about my application?

General questions concerning the GNTP can be sent to and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible. You are also welcome to contact the Brain Institute Education Coordinator, Ms. Petersen, at

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

Our minimum GPA for the GNTP is 3.0, however, the Admissions Committee considers all aspects of the application, including not only GRE scores and GPA, but also what undergraduate courses were 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?

The set minimum GRE is 150 Verbal and 150 Quantitative. However, a variety of features are considered. Although we encourage you to forward such information if you possess it, is not necessary to take a GRE Subject exam. Only GRE scores obtained in the past five years from Admissions Committee review will be acceptable. * GRE scores are evaluated by requirements of our supporting Ph.D. programs.

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 (GRE and TOEFL)?

The FAU standardized test school codes are listed below:

  • GRE - 5229
  • TOEFL – 5229

What constitutes an "official copy of scores"

An official copy of scores, whether they be for the GRE or the TOEFL, are scores that are sent directly to FAU by the Educational Testing Service.

What are the required TOEFL scores for admission for international students?

Demonstrated proficiency in English via TOEFL exam. * TOEFL scores are evaluated by requirements of our supporting Ph.D. programs.

Contact Us

FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute
Research Office, Jupiter campus
Room 107, MC-17
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