Frequently Asked Questions

I'm currently in my last few years of my undergraduate education. What courses should I be taking in order to be considered for your program?  

Although we do not exclude from consideration students who have not studied the biological and chemical sciences, we are looking for students with strong backgrounds in basic science. We recommend course that may include chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, biopsychology, psychology, neuroscience, research methods, and statistics. Applicants are encouraged to have completed at least two semesters/terms of chemistry prior to submittal of their application to our program. 

Describe what you are looking for regarding lab experience.

Our admissions committee is interested in lab experience because lab work will be a huge focus of your graduate education. We need to know that you flourish in the research experience and know what you're getting into if you join our program.  An ideal lab should give you opportunities to work on experiments, collect data, interpret results, understand the basic questions of your experiments and why they are relevant, and perhaps allow you to see the data through to publication. You wouldn't need to engage in all of these aspects of research but we will be looking for hands on familiarity with several of these facets of your research and evidence that you were successful.  An experience akin to data entry alone or clerical work in a research lab wouldn't give you a sufficient breadth of experience to appreciate the many expects of research that come with a PhD education in behavioral neuroscience.

What GPA and/or GRE test scores should I have?   

There are no absolute cut-offs, but applicants who are invited to interview usually have a GPA great than 3.0 and GREs higher than 153 (verbal), 148 (quantitative), and 4.5 (analytic writing). Students with grades below these benchmarks require special consideration. The Admissions Committee will be required to provide justification in order to recommend these students.    

Follow up regarding GPA and/or GRE scores lower than stated above: As stated above, there are no absolute cut-offs, however, the selection of candidates is a competitive process. Low GPA and/or GRE scores will not help your application. Applications with GPA and/or GRE scores below these benchmarks should excel in other areas. For example, if your GPA is less than 3.0, your GRE scores, recommendation letters, and research experience should be exceptional. In all cases where the GPA and/or GRE scores are low, the candidate should address the situation in their personal statement. If extenuating circumstances are responsible for the low scores, the candidate should describe the circumstances in their personal statement.

Are application fee waivers available?

Yes. OHSU's Graduate Studies approves application fee waivers for applicants who are economically disadvantaged. Request a waiver by contacting somgrad@ohsu.edu before submitting your application.

Fee waivers are also approved for applicants who have participated in the following or similar programs:

  • Murdock Undergraduate Collaborative Research Program
  • McNair Scholars Program
  • Meyerhoff Scholars Program
  • NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP)
  • OHSU Summer Equity Program
  • Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos &Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
  • American Indian Science and Engineering (AISES) 

Waiver requests from applicants (and/or programs on the applicant's behalf) with extenuating circumstances will be reviewed. 

PROCESS: The applicant or program contacts somgrad@ohsu.edu to submit a fee waiver request with the applicant name, CAS ID#, and reason before application is submitted. Graduate Studies review requests, and informs applicant and program of the decision. Once waivers are applied to an applicant account, applicant has 30 days to submit application before the waiver expires. Trailing documents like transcripts and letter of recommendation can still be accepted after the 30-day deadline, but the applicant portion must be complete and submitted in order for the waiver to cover the application fee. 

Only one fee waiver can be applied to an applicant.

What should I include in my personal statement to make it stand out?   

We especially want to know about research projects that you have been involved in and the sort of research you imagine yourself doing if you were a student in our program. This might include naming faculty you would be interested in working with and what you see as your long term career plans. Please visit our faculty webpages

What information would you like my recommenders to include in their letters?   

Information about how long they have known you and under what circumstances (did you take a class with them or work in a lab?) We'd like to know what you do well and what things you're not as good at, plus how they think these things might affect how you would do in graduate school.

Do I need to complete a GRE subject test?   

No. There are no GRE subject test requirements.

I took the GRE test more than once. Which score will you consider? The most recent? The best?   

We will consider the highest score.

I missed your application deadline. Do you admit students mid-year?   

No. We have one application period per year. We would be happy to consider your application next year.

I have a Master's degree in Neuroscience/Psychology/Something Else. May I transfer credits to your program?   

A petition can be made any time during your first year to transfer credits received for formal course work (not research or independent study). Only courses in which a grade of B or better was received will be considered and a maximum of 45 quarter term credits from an accredited institution can be transferred to the PhD degree at OHSU. Transfer of credits must be approved first by the Graduate Program Director, then the Graduate Council, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and the Registrar.

I have a Master's degree. Will I have to get another in your program?   

Our program has a research requirement that includes the option of completing an MS degree. It is not likely that your current Master's degree will satisfy our research requirement, however, we would consider this on an individual basis.

OHSU has a Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program and a Neuroscience Graduate Program.  What is the difference?   

Both the Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) and the Behavioral Neuroscience Graduate Program (BEHN) are School of Medicine basic science PhD graduate programs. Regarding the distinctions between the programs, many BEHN faculty are also NGP faculty. Specific overlap can be found in the Graduate Studies Faculty Database. NGP faculty that are NOT BEHN faculty are primarily in clinical departments but studying disease processes (not behavioral questions). As the name suggests, the BEHN department focuses on behavioral questions. There are different academic requirements including different courses and number of courses, different qualifying examination formats, and different timing of the qualifying examination. Contact NGP at ngp@ohsu.edu for information about their graduate program.

How much will it cost me to be a student in your program?   

We provide a stipend to all students in our program. The 2018/19 annual stipend is $30,000 for incoming students. Stipends increase to $31,500 once the student passes their qualifying exam. All tuition and student fees are waived or paid for the student. Students are also covered by PacificSource Student Health Insurance Plan and the Joseph B. Trainer Health & Wellness Center which includes medical and dental coverage. Your costs will include living expenses and textbooks.

When is the application deadline?   

December 3, 2018

How many people do you admit/interview each year?   

Approximately: 20 interviewees and 4-8 students matriculating.

When will I hear if you are going to interview me?

You should hear from us by early January 2019. Please call or email our Graduate Program Manager, Kris Thomason, at (503) 494-7765 or thomason@ohsu.edu if you would like to check on the status of your application.

How long will it take to get my degree?

This will vary by student, but the typical student will complete the requirements for their PhD degree in 5-6 years.

I am neither a US citizen nor a permanent resident. Will you accept my application?  

All students admitted to our program can expect to be supported as graduate research assistants by one of the three federally funded research training grants, by departmental funds, or by individual faculty research grants. In order to be eligible for federally funded training grant support the individual must be a US citizen or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.   

Due to the above-mentioned funding challenges, it is rare that we extend offer of admission to foreign applicants. In order to do so, we would need to identify a faculty mentor with an appropriate funding source that is willing to be financially responsible for the student for their entire training period. Foreign applicants are encouraged to browse our faculty profiles to find one or more faculty members that match their career interests and communicate directly with them about the possibility of joining their labs prior to applying for admission. Encouraging communication should be noted in your application's personal statement.

English is not my first language. However, my English proficiency is excellent. Will I need to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement?   

The TOEFL is required for all applicants for whom English is not a native language. The applicant may request a waiver of the TOEFL requirement.  The waiver is generally granted for applicants who completed their undergraduate degree at an English-speaking American university.  Please send an email to our Graduate Program Manager, Kris Thomason (thomason@ohsu.edu) if you would like to request a waiver.

I have more questions. Who should I contact?  

Kris Thomason, Graduate Program Manager, (503) 494-7765, thomason@ohsu.edu