The Neuroscience PhD Program grants PhDs only. We do not offer a Master’s Degree. Applications are accepted in late fall for the class entering in August of the following academic year.
Submitting Your Application
>> Go to the Berkeley Graduate Division website to apply. Applications are accepted from the beginning of September through November 16th for admission the following year.
The deadline for receipt of complete applications is November 16th, including transcripts, test scores (if applicable), and recommendation letters. Late applications are not accepted or reviewed. We do not accept applications for Spring semester. The entire application process is online, and it includes uploading transcripts, Personal History Statement, and Statement of Purpose, and providing registration numbers for the TOEFL and/or GRE (submission of GRE scores is optional in our program), and contact information for at least three recommenders.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all materials, including recommendation letters, are submitted by the deadline.
For tips on successful applications, see Application Tips below.
Before You Apply
Which graduate program is right for you?
The Neuroscience PhD Program provides broad training at multiple levels of neuroscience. Other PhD programs at Berkeley also offer training in neuroscience, or in specific sub-disciplines of neuroscience. These include the PhD programs in Molecular & Cellular Biology, Psychology, Biophysics, and Vision Science. These programs differ in overall academic focus and course curriculum, and in the subset of neuroscience laboratories available for thesis research. UC Berkeley allows each applicant to apply to only one graduate program per application cycle. We want you to pick the one that best matches your intellectual interests.
Neuroscience PhD Program
Classes cover neuroscience at all its levels, including molecular, cellular, biophysical, developmental, circuits, systems, computational, behavioral, and human cognitive neuroscience. Thesis research is available in all these areas, studying normal brain function from cellular to systems levels, behavior, cognition, and disease. See complete list of the labs available for thesis research in our program here (be sure to check the box to show only Neuroscience PhD Program Faculty).
Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Program
Classes provide broad training in molecular and cell biology, including genetics, biochemistry, structural biology, immunology, and molecular, cellular, synaptic and developmental neurobiology. Thesis research is available in neuroscience labs within the MCB department, which include molecular/cellular to circuits-level neuroscience research.
Psychology Graduate Program
Within this program, students can undertake thesis research in Psychology faculty laboratories. Training that is most related to neuroscience falls within 3 areas of specialization: Cognition, Brain, and Behavior; Behavioral Neuroscience; and Change, Plasticity, and Development. This program has no rotations, and students directly enter a specific faculty laboratory.
Biophysics Graduate Group
This program focuses on molecular biophysics and systems biology, including selected faculty in neuroscience. Neuroscience areas include systems neuroscience, molecular imaging/optical probes, cellular signaling, structural biology, and brain imaging.
Vision Science Program
This program offers broad training in vision science, eye diseases and development. Thesis research is available in visual neuroscience, including visual perception, visual system neurophysiology and signaling, development, and control of eye movements.
Other programs have some overlap with specific areas of neuroscience, including the Integrative Biology Graduate Program, Bioengineering Program, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, and Community Health and Human Development.
Requirements For Application
Minimum requirements for admission
- A bachelor’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (for US institutions).
- Submission of GRE scores is optional. If you decide to include GRE scores in your application, use Institution Code 4833 and Program Code 0213.
- At least one year of laboratory research experience.
- Three letters of recommendation.
- Proof of English Proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS) required of international applicants (For the TOEFL, use Institution Code 4833, no department/program code).
Strong undergraduate preparation for neuroscience includes at least one year of college level coursework in one of the following disciplines: biology, physics, chemistry, calculus, or engineering.
Additional coursework in cognitive science, psychology, biophysics, or neurobiology is advisable.
At least one year of laboratory experience is required for admission. Applicants should describe their research experience in the Statement of Purpose.
Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation. Letters should be from individuals who have supervised their work in a laboratory, research, or academic setting and can comment on the applicant’s intellectual ability, creativity, scientific leadership skills, and scholarly potential.
All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. The University requires the following minimum passing scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): 230 for Computer-based test; or 90 for Internet-based test (iBT). If an international applicant has enrolled in an academic program at an American University for at least one year and has a minimum 3.0 GPA, the TOEFL requirement can be waived.
For additional information, see Application Tips.
Application Review Process
Applications are reviewed by an admissions committee comprised of faculty and a senior graduate student. The admissions committee review takes into consideration all aspects of an application: transcripts, prior research experience, test scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and the personal history statement.
Top applicants are invited in February to visit UC Berkeley for interviews. 2021 interview dates are January 31-February 2 and February 21-23. Decisions on in-person recruitment are still pending.
During the visit, candidates interview with 5-8 faculty members, interact with current graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and attend social events, such as faculty-hosted dinners and student-hosted parties. The goal is to introduce the applicants to the neuroscience community at Berkeley, both socially and professionally, and to evaluate applicants’ preparedness for graduate research. Faculty evaluations from the interviews inform final admissions decisions, which are made after the end of the second recruitment visit. Official admission offers are sent to successful applicants in early to mid-March.
Your application has two essays: the Statement of Purpose (SOP) and the Personal History Statement (PHS). In the SOP, you should describe your motivation, preparation and aptitude for PhD study in neuroscience. Please include a description of your prior research experience and accomplishments, with enough detail (for at least one project) to illustrate how you think scientifically. You should also discuss your future research interests and career goals and why you think Berkeley is a good fit for your PhD training. The SOP should be 2-3 double-spaced pages.
In the PHS, you should describe how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. The PHS should not duplicate the SOP but should provide broader context on your personal story and goals. This may include how you overcame barriers to access higher education, how you have come to understand the barriers faced by others, your service to advance equitable access to education for under-represented groups, research you may have done that focuses on underserved populations or related issues of inequality, your leadership roles in such groups, and/or your plans in graduate school and your future career to address societal issues. The PHS should be 1-3 double-spaced pages.
Please read all pertinent information on the program and application requirements before you start the application process. Most questions are answered in these on-line materials.
Get Started Early
Recommendation letters: Letters of recommendation are a critical part of the application. Faculty recommenders are usually very busy, and often have competing requests for recommendations from many students. It is imperative to ask for recommendation letters early, and to communicate clearly the November 16th deadline.
The admissions committee begins its work shortly after the deadline. The committee does not read incomplete applications.
Less Is Sometimes More
The on-line application should convey all you want the committee to know about you in a compelling and concise form. Since several hundred applications are received, extraneous material is unlikely to be read. Please avoid sending excess materials that are not required in the application, but make sure that everything that is required can be found within the application.
You must choose at least one area of emphasis from the drop down menu in the on-line application. While your choice does not obligate you to follow any specific path once in graduate school, failure to do so delays the review process.
Due to the diverse academic backgrounds of applicants and the individuality of the admissions process, we do not calculate or provide statistical information about the test scores or grades of admitted students.
Most applicants have to pay the standard UC Berkeley graduate application fees. U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents may apply for a fee waiver through the University Graduate Division. Detailed information and form available in the on-line application.
Information For International Applicants
The program has no quotas for international applicants, and each year international students are admitted to the program. Evidence of English language proficiency (such as TOEFL scores) is a University requirement and cannot be waived (see Requirements for Application above). Unfortunately, application fee waivers are not available for international applicants.
Technical problems with the online application: contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
General questions about graduate admissions at UC Berkeley: contact email@example.com. For comprehensive information on university-wide graduate application and admissions processes, check the Graduate Admissions Page.
Specific questions about the Neuroscience PhD Program application:
Graduate Program Manager
Neuroscience PhD Program
444 Li Ka Shing, MC#3370
Berkeley, CA 94720