Frequently Asked Questions


How do I apply?
Students must submit an application to the NIH to be considered for admission to the Brown-NIH Graduate Partnership Program. 

  • NIH application must be submitted online, at the NIH GPP application website. 
  • An application to Brown University is not required at this stage, unless applicants wish to also be independently considered for admission to the Brown Neuroscience program. The application for that program is found at the Brown Graduate School Application website. 

For more information about applying, including deadlines, see the Application page.

Is there an application fee?
There is no application fee for NIH, but a $75 application fee for Brown. US citizens or permanent residents who can demonstrate either financial need or participation in certain specialized programs may apply for an application fee waiver. Fee waiver applications with supporting documentation must be received by the Graduate School two weeks in advance of the application deadline.

What test scores are required with the application?
FOr the NIH application, applicants must self report scores for the general aptitude sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and can additionally report scores for the GRE subject exams and the MCAT. For Brown admission, GRE and TOEFL scores can be self reported for the initial application, but official scores must be sent before matriculation in the fall semester.

What are the academic prerequisites?
Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate degree in a component discipline of neuroscience such as biology, psychology, neurobiology, chemistry, physics, applied mathematics, engineering, or computer science. However, the Program does not have any specific course requirements for successful admission.

Are there financial aid or assistantship applications to complete?
All graduate students are fully supported during their time in graduate school, for up to five years. This includes a stipend, health insurance, and tuition waiver as long as the student remains in good academic standing. No forms for requesting financial support need to be submitted. For a more detailed explanation of NIH graduate student stipends, see the NIH intramural trainee stipends page.

What is involved in the interview?
We ask competitive applicants to come to Brown and to the NIH for an interview visit. This visit allows candidates to meet the Program faculty trainers, see our research facilities, and interact with current graduate students. Interviews are typically held in February.

When are admissions decisions announced?
Admission decisions are announced in early March.

The Program

How much time do students spend at Brown versus at NIH?
Students in the program are an important part of the neuroscience community at both institutions, while they spend the majority of the their time at NIH. Students' time at Brown is focused on completing the coursework requirements for the program. This comprises the entire first year of the program. Following the completion of these courses, students pass their Comprehensive Exams and then relocate to Bethesda, MD, to start their thesis research at the NIH. Students complete lab rotations at NIH and at Brown to help them select an appropriate NIH lab in which to do their research. After relocating to NIH, there are numerous occasions for students to travel to Brown, including required presentations at the Brown In-House Seminar Series, the annual program retreat in Rhode Island, for their defense, and just to see friends and colleagues.

How long does it take to complete the PhD degree?
Funding is guaranteed for the first five years, and can be extended on a case-by-base basis. The average time to completion is slightly above five years.

What is the financial support?
Brown-NIH Graduate Partnership Program students are fully supported during their time in graduate school. Students receive a competitive stipend, tuition, health insurance, and health services fee. No financial support forms need to be submitted by applicants.

Where does my funding come from?
Students are supported by the NIH Graduate Partnership Program office for their first two semesters and subsequently by their mentors at the NIH.

What funding is available for conference travel?
All students attend conferences each year. Financial support comes primarily from the student's mentor at NIH, but additionally there are awards available to students at NIH through the Office of Intramural Training and Education and through the Brown's Division of Biology and Medicine.

What health insurance benefits are available?
Your health insurance is provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield and is covered by the program. The health insurance benefits are described on the Foundation for Advanced Education in Science (FAES) website.

What courses will I take once enrolled in the Program?
In the first year of study, graduate students enroll in a set of courses designed to provide fundamental knowledge of neuroscience:

  • Advanced Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience I
  • Advanced Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience II
  • Advanced Systems Neuroscience
  • Advanced Cognitive Neuroscience

In the second year, all Neuroscience graduate students must also enroll in a graduate level statistics course or demonstrate core competence in statistics.

What are laboratory rotations and how many are required before selecting a lab for my thesis work?
A laboratory rotation consists of a one semester research project under the supervision of a Program faculty advisor. Students are required to complete a summer lab rotation at NIH prior to beginning the first semester of the program. GPP students do at most two rotations while at Brown, though they have the option of remaining in one lab while at Brown since they will have done one already and may do another upon return to NIH. Lab rotations allow students to experience the scientific research, environment, and mentorship style in several labs before joining an NIH lab for their thesis work.

Are there any restrictions in choosing a thesis laboratory?
Typically, graduate students select their Thesis Advisor prior to the start of their second year of study. Only approved faculty trainers can serve as full time thesis advisors. New faculty members can be added to the list of approved trainers after review by the program directors and the relevant NIH institute. In principle, any researcher at NIH performing neuroscience research can be a faculty trainer.

What are the teaching requirements?
There are no teaching requirements. Students interested in teaching can TA courses in their second semester at Brown and, at NIH, through the Foundation for Advanced Education in Science (FAES), home to the graduate school on campus.

Are there publication requirements?
No. Students submit a written thesis synthesizing their laboratory results for the final degree. However, most students do have publications based on their thesis work by the time they graduate.