What We Look For in Prospective Applicants

We are pleased to provide prospective applicants with the following guidelines for our graduate admission process. These guidelines have been established to ensure clarity in the expectations of the admissions committee and to foster transparency throughout the application process. Our aim is to create a fair and accessible process that allows each applicant to understand the metrics by which their application will be evaluated, ultimately leading to a more informed and equitable admission decision.

We use a holistic admissions approach during our admissions process, which means we take into account multiple aspects of the applicant’s application, including experiences, skills, and personal characteristics. Please use the following drop-down menus to explore the personality traits, experiences, and skills we use for application evaluation

Intellectual curiosity is the desire to learn and discover new things, even if the immediate usefulness of the knowledge is not apparent. It includes a natural thirst for knowledge and/or a willingness to gain a deeper understanding of previously acquired knowledge. Curiosity, inquisitiveness, and the desire to learn all encompass this concept. We want applicants who can demonstrate this quality, because at its core, scientific discovery is about the acquisition of knowledge.

Applicants need to answer all the prompt questions within the context of their research statement. Within their answers, they should:

  • Describe an experience that showcases natural curiosity
  • Demonstrate knowledge-seeking actions (e.g., asking questions, reading, further research, etc.) 
  • Describe how their experience(s) shaped their desire to learn and seek out new information

Prior research experience can help an applicant determine if pursuing a scientific career is right for them. Applicants can describe 1-2 research experiences, which are assessed based on their ability to explain their depth of understanding of the project.

The score is based on the following:

  • Applicant’s ability to answer all the prompt questions within the context of their research statement
  • Quality of the description of the research project

The number or duration of the research experience(s) will not be considered. Likewise, the lab/university prestige will not be considered. Any type of research experience is acceptable (e.g., undergraduate or summer research experiences, scientific honors thesis research, post-baccalaureate experiences, and research assistant positions), and secondary evidence such as scientific presentations or publications may be considered as participation in scientific research.

Completion of scientific training is a long-term goal that involves a sustained period of learning, problem-solving, and personal and professional growth. We are looking for applicants who demonstrate these abilities. When assessing this criteria we look for an applicant’s ability to clearly describe a previous challenge, what they did to address this challenge, and what they learned from the experience. This can be demonstrated through various parts of the application and may come from personal or professional life.

Neuroscience research encompasses a wide range of topics and therefore, applicants to our neuroscience program should have research interests that align with our program's expertise. This alignment ensures that students can conduct research on topics they find interesting, with the support of our scientific resources.

Applicants need to answer all the prompt questions within the context of their research statement. Within their answers, they should:

  • Communicate interest in a research topic aligned with the program’s research expertise. 
  • Describe why 2-3 NGP faculty’s research is interesting to them (the description should indicate some familiarity with the faculty member’s research).

Time management and organizational skills are critical for both incoming graduate students and advanced scientists alike. Although graduate students will have the opportunity to build on these skills throughout their careers, incoming students will be asked to manage multiple responsibilities within their main coursework during the first semester. After the completion of their main coursework, students will manage multiple responsibilities with their rotations, and eventually in their labs. We are looking for applicants who effectively describe their experiences and challenges with managing multiple responsibilities, including a description of the strategies or approaches they use to organize their time and prioritize tasks. This should also include a description of what they learned from previous experiences with time management and organization. Applicants may use examples that include but are not limited to working full-time while in college, balancing being a caregiver along with other responsibilities, attending college while being involved in clubs/sports, etc.

Collaboration and the ability to ask for help are essential skills for any scientist. Graduate students will be working with colleagues, mentors, and other professionals in their field. Being able to work collaboratively, demonstrate active listening, and contribute to a team effort is vital to success. No scientist can do everything alone, and seeking help from others can provide new insights, ideas, and perspectives that may be crucial to solving a problem. We are looking for applicants who effectively communicate their ability to work collaboratively and ask for help when needed. Applicants should describe the skills they utilized to work with others (e.g., communication, listening, conflict resolution, etc.), how they approached asking for help when they needed it, and what they learned or confirmed about themselves through this experience. Their experiences can be related or unrelated to research and pertain to their personal or professional life.

The NGP wants applicants who are interested in community engagement, which aligns with our values of helping others and building community. We are looking for applicants who have experience in community engagement or are willing to participate in activities that help others. These activities can be paid or unpaid and should be aimed at improving conditions or outcomes for others.

The activities can be in the past or in the future and should include a description of:

  •  The needs within the targeted community that activity aims to address
  • Their personal role in the engagement
  • Outcomes of the engagement
  • Impact of the activities on the community
  • What they took away from the experience (if applicable)

Diversity is a key value that guides OHSU as we aim to "Build a diverse, equitable environment where all can thrive and excel." With a shared value in mind, the NGP recognizes the importance of fostering an environment that enables every individual to unlock their full potential, spanning from groundbreaking scientific advancements to nurturing the growth of future critical thinkers. We are asking applicants to describe how the NGP’s Anti-Oppression Statement or the Anti-Oppression Primer for International Applicants aligns with OHSU’s stated value of diversity. 

The application review committee is looking for applicants who:

  •  Connect the NGP’s Anti-Oppression Statement/Anti-Oppression Primer for International Applicants with OHSU’s stated value of diversity. 
  • Describe how they could personally contribute to the institutional interest of creating an equitable educational environment where everyone can thrive and excel.

Academic preparedness is important for success in a doctoral program and beyond. We are looking for applicants who have the expected level of academic preparation for an incoming graduate student and have the potential to learn and improve over time. This is demonstrated by having completed at least one college-level course in biology and/or neuroscience, writing/communication, and a quantitative subject with a grade of B- or better. The NGP does not have a minimum cumulative GPA requirement; however, if an applicant’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 or if individual course grades fall below a B- in the course categories listed above, we ask for an explanation in the application portal. We will consider factors such as course difficulty, credit load, and personal circumstances, etc. We will also look at other areas of the application as secondary evidence, such as TOEFL scores or writing skills and scientific understanding demonstrated within the application.