How to Apply

The Neurosciences IDP is one of 14 Home Programs within Stanford Biosciences. Applications to the Stanford Biosciences PhD Programs must be made through Graduate Admissions by Wednesday, November 28, 2018. All supporting materials must be submitted by the deadline in order for your application to be considered in the review process.

Please review the information here, on the Biosciences Admissions website, and the Graduate Admissions website prior to starting your application. When you are ready to apply, please click here to start your online application.


The Stanford Neurosciences Program is committed to training a diverse group of neuroscientists who come from a wide range of ethnic, cultural, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Qualified applicants who are neither U.S. citizens nor permanent residents are eligible for admission. Stanford offers a limited number of fellowships to outstanding admitted students, and international applicants may be nominated for these fellowships.

Selection for admission to the program is based on a student's academic achievements, letters of recommendation attesting to research and academic skills, and statement of purpose. Research experience is very important, but the exact disciplinary area is not critical. The program does not have specific course requirements or recommendations to be considered for admission.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience, students with biological, computational, and psychology backgrounds are equally appropriate for the program:

  • Students from traditional biology backgrounds are expected to show strong achievement in molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry and neuroscience.
  • Students from more quantitative backgrounds should demonstrate considerable competence in mathematics (calculus, differential equations, linear algebra), physics, probability theory, and statistics.
  • Students from psychology backgrounds should be well versed in cognitive science, experimental psychology, neuroscience and statistics. Advice on how to choose between neuroscience and psychology programs is offered by one of our faculty members here.

Financial Support

Students admitted to the Neurosciences Program are funded by training grants or predoctoral fellowships that provide a living stipend, tuition, and health insurance. The University also offers a limited number of fellowships to outstanding admitted students. All students are strongly encouraged to apply for extramural predoctoral fellowships and our students have been very competitive for prestigious fellowships.

Important Dates

  • Mid-September: Biosciences Application Opens
  • November 28, 2018: Application Deadline
  • Early January: Invitations to Interview Session Sent
  • Early March: Offers of Admission Begin
  • April 15, 2018: Deadline to Accept Offer of Admission
  • Prospective students may also be interested in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars, which develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by September 12, 2018, and separately apply to the Biosciences Department by November 14, 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Stanford Neuroscience?


Students have the opportunity to work with any of the faculty members who are affiliated with the Neuroscience program. Our faculty come from departments campuswide including Neurobiology, Neurology & Neurological Sciences, Neurosurgery, Biology, Genetics, Comparative Medicine, Electrical Engineering, Otolaryngology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Applied Physics, Molecular & Cellular Physiology, Ophthalmology, and Anesthesia. All are distinguished scientists who have made fundamental discoveries in all areas of neuroscience from molecules to cognition, and have international reputations for excellence in both research and teaching.


Graduate students can choose how they would like to distribute their credit requirements, offering great flexibility in their coursework. Students are also encouraged to take courses in other departments that may benefit their research (i.e. biosciences, math, and engineering). Stanford School of Medicine continually strives to improve the graduate education system. Most recently, the kernel course, an introductory course for all bioscience students, and mini courses, one to three week practical courses, have been introduced into the curriculum.


The program has a strong community, fostered in part by the SIN boot camp for first year students, an annual retreat held in Monterey, and many other student-run events that encourage mingling such as happy hours, inter-class dinners, and the Stanford Neurosciences Institute seminar series. Starting in the fourth year, students present their work to the community during monthly Superfriends gatherings. In addition to the existing book club for discussing popular science literature, our students also lead a homegrown neuroblog - NeuWrite West - to improve their own skills in communicating science to a general audience.

Neurosciences Student Life


Students participate in a variety of activities both on and off campus. The gorgeous weather year-round allows students to hike, bike, and rock climb in the area, with weekend ski trips to Lake Tahoe common in the winter. Our students have performed with the Stanford Shakespeare company, swing and salsa clubs, and local music groups. The graduate community organizes social events including movie nights, restaurant outings, and parties.