Application and Admissions Information

Neuroscience is considered by many to be the "last scientific frontier." Our large multidisciplinary program provides a wonderful opportunity to study Neuroscience in a rich, supportive environment. Our coursework provides students with a solid foundation in each of the major areas of neuroscience, plus the opportunity to do cutting edge research with world famous neuroscientists. With over 125 graduate faculty, and an environment that thrives on collaboration, the opportunities for students to partake in multidisciplinary research abound. Our graduate students come from a variety of backgrounds and have diverse scientific interests. Therefore, we do not have a specific set of coursework prerequisites for admission into our graduate program. However, experience tells us that the most appropriate background includes coursework in biology, chemistry (including biochemistry), psychology, mathematics, and physics.

Requirements for Admission

Research Experience

Our Admissions Committee seeks out students who have demonstrated strong initiative, creativity, productivity, and a passion for discovery.

All of our students possessed research experience during their undergraduate or post-undergraduate education, experience which has often helped them clarify their research interests. We encourage all students to work in a research environment prior to applying to our graduate program. 

We prefer an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 for admission into our graduate program. We no longer require submission of the GRE, nor, if submitted, do we look at the scores. Students whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL and obtain a minimum score of 625 on the paper based exam, 95 on the internet based exam, or obtain 6.5 on the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) examination. Comparison scores for other TOEFL exams are available here. All prospective students are required to fill out an application, and as part of your application, we require three letters of recommendation and a personal statement about your ambitions and motivations for a research career. Your personal statement should indicate why you are interested in Neuroscience in general, and why you are interested specifically in our Graduate Program in Neuroscience.

To give you a realistic view of the strength of your application, students accepted into our program have, on average, a GPA of 3.5. Again, this is an average and not a requirement.

Campus Visit and Financial Support

In February, we invite our top candidates to the Twin Cities, and introduce them to our program, faculty, and students. These prospective students are provided an opportunity to sample the research environment by visiting labs from their areas of interest. This trip also allows prospective students the chance to explore the campus and the Twin Cities area. Candidates accepted into the program will be notified shortly after the campus visit. Once accepted into our program, we provide a considerable stipend, full tuition benefits, and health care benefits during their first year in the program. Once students have selected a PhD advisor, their advisor provides financial support until completion of the PhD. The program is strongly committed to training students of diverse backgrounds and welcomes all applications.

Filling out the University of Minnesota Graduate School application

All students applying to the Graduate Program in Neuroscience should fill out the application form provided by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Graduate School. In order to simplify completion of this form, we hope the following instructions will be useful to you.

The general application form requests two "applicant statements" and a statement of extenuating circumstances if applicable. Relative to our program, the first is the most important.

Statement 1 (Personal Statement)

Please write a 1- to 2-page-long personal statement including the following structure.

      1. Introduction & Goals

First, and most importantly, your personal statement must make it clear why you want to pursue a PhD in neuroscience specifically. A broad flowery description about your interest in biology since you were 5 years old is not helpful. This statement is best if you describe your laboratory research experience and speak to why that research experience was motivating.

A clear articulation of “why neuroscience” is imperative.

Please include a statement outlining your immediate educational and long-range career objectives in relation to Neuroscience.

      2. Research

Some of the most important information that you can provide us in an application is the research that you have done. Thus, we ask that you provide a description of the independent research that you have performed to date.

Please include any undergraduate research activities, internships, abstracts/publications, or other experiences you may have had to document your preparation for advanced study in Neuroscience.

For each research project you led or were involved in, please use the following subsections to help you summarize your studies: Background, Experimental Question, Methods, Results and Discussion. Please be brief while providing sufficient detail. Note that the results do not have to have been published and they can have come out either positively or negatively - we are most interested in your experiences with the research itself.  If you have a lot of research experience, you can list the experiences you’ve had and go into detail on one or two of them.

      3. Graduate Program in Neuroscience

Please explain your specific interest to the GPN at the University of Minnesota.

Also, please feel free to indicate if there are particular faculty members with whom you wish to study, stating the names of the identified faculty and explaining why you want to study with those persons.

Statement 2 (Diversity Statement)

Enrolling and graduating a diverse student body is central to the University of Minnesota's mission. Please write a statement that identifies the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and to the education of fellow students at the University of Minnesota. You may wish to include examples that address your contribution and commitment to the social, intellectual, and cultural diversity of the student body and your ability to engage with GPN efforts to build a diverse and inclusive community demonstrated by overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or helping others to gain access to the resources necessary for success.

Extenuating Circumstances (if needed) 
If your grades and/or test scores are not strong, and you would like to provide an explanation, please do so.

While the University of Minnesota Graduate School asks that the first two statements be completed, Statement 1, describing your research experience, why you are interested in our program specifically, as well as your long term goals, are of primary importance to our program and our selection process. Statement 1 (research experience and goals) will be weighted most heavily in the admissions process and should be written accordingly.

Financial Aid section

The Graduate School uses a common application form. We would like to make it clear that all matriculated neuroscience PhD students receive financial support during their graduate career, including a generous stipend, fully-paid tuition, and health care benefits. Therefore, please just check "yes" to the first question on the Financial Aid section (that you have applied for a fellowship). You do not need to fill in any of the other questions in this section.


Domestic Applicants
(United States Citizens and/or Permanent Residents and Residents of Puerto Rico)

December 1

International Applicants
(Non-U.S. Citizens and Non-Permanent Residents)

December 1

If you require an extension of the deadline, please contact John Paton via e-mail at [email protected] or phone at 612-626-6474.

Please Note: You must submit specific materials to the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota. Any materials submitted through Graduate School Online Application System will automatically be delivered to both groups, and do not need to be sent twice. See below for more details.

Submit the following items through Graduate School Online Application System or by mail to:

Graduate Program in Neuroscience
University of Minnesota
6-145 Jackson Hall
321 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Transcripts. Original or photocopy. Submission through Graduate School Online Application System is preferred. (If accepted, an official copy will be requested)

Current registration information. If you are currently enrolled at an academic institution, you should provide a separate sheet listing all courses you expect to complete as part of your present program. (This can be submitted in Graduate School Online Application System, or via email to [email protected])

TOEFL or IELTS Results. For non-native speakers of English only. Initially, a photocopy of an official report is acceptable. However, we must receive an official ETS report before acceptance into the program.
(TOEFL: Institution Code 6874, Dept. Code 99 for Not Listed)

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School at the University of Minnesota has approved new temporary English language proficiency test options for the 2022 admissions cycle. Applicants should note that the Graduate Program in Neuroscience will honor these new requirements detailed there:

Please contact the Chair of the GPN Admissions Committee, Dr. Paulo Kofuji ([email protected]), if you have any questions or need help.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation. The letters do not have to be in a specific format, but the following form is provided for your convenience click here. Letters should be uploaded through the Graduate School Online Application System, but they will also be accepted if addressed to the Admissions Committee at the above address. The envelope should be sealed and signed on the flap.


Submit the following items through Graduate School Online Application System:

Graduate School
University of Minnesota
309 Johnston Hall
101 Pleasant Street
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Application for Admission.

You must complete the application form online. When completing the application, please note the following:

The proposed major for Neuroscience is "Neuro. PhD - 059060208"

The proposed term of entry is "Summer" and the year you wish to enter.

Application fee. $75.00 USD for Domestic Applicants, $95.00 USD for International Applicants.

Statement of purpose. (See above descriptions for more details)

QUESTIONS / MORE INFORMATION If you have any questions about our application process or require more information, please contact our office:

Graduate Program in Neuroscience
University of Minnesota
6-145 Jackson Hall
321 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Tel. 612-626-6474
Fax 612-626-6460
[email protected]