Guidelines for International Applicants

We welcome applications from well-qualified applicants outside of the United States. Although the application process is competitive, we have admitted international applicants from many countries. Currently there are students in the program from Europe, Asia, and South America.

All application materials should be submitted electronically as for all applicants. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

  • Please note that the GRE is no longer required.
  • International applicants are required to submit:
    • Copies of transcripts
    • 3 letters of recommendation
    • A personal statement (explained below)
    • A racial equity essay (explained below)
    • TOEFL or IELTS scores (explained below). In some cases we may require validation of transcripts or credentials following receipt of your application.
  • Fluency in English is necessary for success in our program. Applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. A TOEFL score near 100 (0-120 scale) is usually sufficient to be successful in our academic courses. If you are from a country where English is the primary language or you earned a degree from a four-year accredited college in the United States, the language exam is not required. Specific information regarding TOEFL scores can be found on the page listing the School of Medicine Graduate Studies requirements for admission
  • After initial screening of applications by the Admissions Committee in December, applicants that are judged to be competitive will be contacted in late December for an initial interview by video conference. In some cases, we may conduct local interviews, particularly if you are currently in the US or are traveling in the US.

Personal statements should be concise but dense. In one to two page, applicants should describe:

  1. Why they feel prepared for graduate school;
  2. A description of their research experience(s), particularly their role in each project (If those resulted in abstracts or publications, please list here or on your attached CV);
  3. Why they are specifically applying to the Vollum/OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program;
  4. What area(s) of neuroscience they envision themselves pursuing at OHSU: molecular, cellular, developmental, systems, behavioral, cognitive, computational, translational;
  5. Identify at least three faculty whose research they are interested in and why; and
  6. Include any additional information which may aid the admissions committee in evaluation of their application.

The committee is looking for clear descriptions of applicants' independent roles in research projects that describe not only techniques, but demonstrate an understanding of the larger question that was asked, what were the choices made in the experiments, and what and why were the controls used for each project. The applicant should demonstrate independence and a clear understanding of the research projects.

Additionally, the applicant should clearly express their interest in pursuing neuroscience and what specifically about the NGP is compelling. We encourage applicants to explore our website, attend admissions info sessions, join us at a conference booth, and reach out to us with any questions at The committee is looking for a good research fit between the applicant and potential faculty mentors.

The NGP has a strong interest in creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to thrive regardless of their skin color. We believe every person in our community has something to contribute towards that effort. The racial equity essay is an opportunity for you to communicate your understanding of the racial inequities that exist within the US, as well as your commitment to contribute to our ongoing efforts. If this topic is new to you, especially as it pertains to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), we welcome your engagement!

Instructions for writing the racial equity essay

Please follow the instructions below:

  1. Watch the following video "Systemic racism explained”. If you are unable to view this link, please read “What Racism Looks Like”.
  2. Read NGP’s Racial Equity Primer for International Applicants
  3. Follow the writing prompt described below

Racial equity essay prompt

The committee is looking for applicants who:

  • Express a basic understanding of systemic racism;
  • Demonstrate an interest in the topic and/or a willingness to learn more; and
  • Describes current or potential future involvement in activities to reduce racism.

This is not a general diversity statement as the focus is specific to race. Personal stories related to race are optional, but by no means required to answer the writing prompt.

Writing Prompt: In your racial equity essay, please share your perspective on what the NGP Racial Equity Primer for International Applicants means to the training environment for our graduate students and faculty. What is your interpretation of what we aim to achieve in pursuing racial equity within the NGP? Also, please describe how you could contribute personally to the NGP’s racial equity goals.

Optional resources to learn more

The Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science (AVDS) is a student-led racial inclusion advocacy group at OHSU. Founded by students, now alumni, of the Neuroscience Graduate Program, the AVDS website has much to offer on their Resources tab for what we can do to take action now.