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How to Apply

The deadline for applications for the fall 2024 academic year is 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2023. All materials, including letters of recommendation, should be submitted no later than the Dec. 1 deadline. Late applications will not be accepted. 

Incoming classes matriculate in September of the academic year. Accepted students cannot matriculate in winter or spring quarters.

All applicants are required to fill out the Northwestern University application through The Graduate School website.

Students who are interested in a joint PhD program (eg. the JD-PhD) must express their intent at the time of the initial application to the PhD. NUIN will not approve applications to joint-programs after students have already entered the PhD program.  


NUIN Admissions Information Sessions 

We will be hosting two virtual information sessions for applicants. Please join to learn more and ask any questions you may have! 

Session 1: October 13th from 1-2 pm CT (Full)

Session 2: November 17th from 1-2 pm CT (Full)

Please RSVP for the virtual session of your choice HERE

How Does NUIN Review Applications?

NUIN reviews all applications as a whole rather than setting strict criteria for particular scores/grades/research experience. Research has shown that perseverance and determination, though difficult to quantify, are more predictive of success in a scientific career than college grades and scores.

What Does a Successful Applicant Look Like?

Successful applicants will have had at least one solid laboratory research experience. Research need not have been in a neuroscience laboratory. Applicants should have a solid grounding in the basic sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) and mathematics, either through formal courses or as a result of significant relevant experience. It is also important that you be able to describe your unique background, experience and motivation for pursuing a PhD through your statement of purpose. The personal statement is an opportunity is your opportunity for you to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and tell them about your interest, motivation, and experience.

Application Components

 Letters of Recommendation

Each applicant is required to have three letters of recommendation. Ideally, at least one of these recommendations will be from a supervisor of research. The letters should be requested and submitted online via the CollegeNET tool. If submitting the letter this way is not possible, please ask your recommender to email their letter to We are unable to accept more than three letters of recommendation.

 Academic Statement

As part of the CollegeNET online application, applicants need to submit an academic statement (also called a “research statement”) describing their unique background, experience and motivation for pursuing a PhD in neuroscience at Northwestern. The Academic Statement must be 1,000 words or less.

The NUIN admissions committee is interested to know what led you to pursue PhD training in neuroscience, how your research and lived experience has prepared you for the rigors of a PhD program, and how a PhD in neuroscience will help you achieve your future goals. Tailor the document to highlight research at Northwestern that lead you to apply to the NUIN program.

 Personal Statement

NUIN and The Graduate School value diverse backgrounds, approaches, and perspectives, understanding them as essential ingredients for true academic excellence. As a NUIN graduate student, how could you contribute to an intellectual community that prioritizes equity, inclusion, belonging, and cultural humility? Your answer may draw upon past or present experiences, whether in academic work, extracurricular or community activities, or everyday life. The Personal Statement must be 500 words or less. 

 Research Summary Statement (Optional)

Please summarize your relevant research experiences.  Outline each project and the level of your involvement.  This is meant to be a document that can be scanned quickly by the admissions committee.  It should be no more than one page.  Paragraph or bullet style are acceptable formats.  Please note that on the application, you will upload this document under “Supplemental Document Upload” in the “Additional Statements” section.


CollegeNET gives applicants an opportunity to upload a resume. While not required, applicants are encouraged to do so. A resume should summarize your relevant research experience and past and current positions.


You are required to submit one unofficial transcript from each postsecondary institution you have attended. Transcripts may be “unofficial" (for example, the versions that many institutions allow students to download themselves). Please make sure your transcripts are legible before uploading them. If you are accepted and choose to attend Northwestern, then you will need to submit official paper transcripts. For additional information on transcripts, please see TGS Admissions.


 Standardized Tests Scores & GPA

NUIN does not require GRE general or subject score submissions. We review all applications holistically and do not have minimum GPA. Recent average entering classes have had an average GPA of 3.65. In evaluating applicants, the program places greatest emphasis on research experience(s), the personal statement and letters of recommendation from research advisers.


 TOEFL or IELTS (International Students Only)

For the most up-to-date information on TOEFL requirements please visit the TGS Admissions FAQ page and the TGS Application Requirements – Test Scores page.

The Northwestern University Graduate School requires a score of 90 or above on the TOEFL internet test or an IELTS score of 7.0 or higher for admission to the university. NUIN cannot waive this requirement except for applicants with undergraduate or graduate degrees from institutions in the United States or institutions where English is the language of instruction. See TGS Admissions - Test Scores for details on The Graduate School's English proficiency requirement and waiver process. 

 Faculty of Interest

See our list of NUIN-affiliated faculty. The ability of faculty to take new students may change from year to year. We encourage you to review faculty profiles and websites to learn more about their research. 

 Writing Sample

NUIN does not require a writing sample.


Application Fee

The application fee is $95 and must be paid via credit card at the time of application submission. Your application will not be processed without payment of the fee.

Domestic Applicants

Application fee waivers are available from The Graduate School for eligible applicants. The fee waiver process is embedded in the application itself. The number of waivers issued each year is limited, and all waivers are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information regarding the process, please see TGS Admissions.

International Applicants

Unfortunately, NUIN is not able to offer application fee waivers to international applicants at this time.


Potential applicants to NUIN who require accommodations should let us know by contacting We will work with AccessibleNU to provide the necessary accommodations to apply or to visit campus for an in-person interview. If accepted to Northwestern, AccessibleNU is available to provide possible services and accommodations to the student. The SSD office may be contacted by email at or by phone at 847-467-5530.

Get additional information regarding admission procedures of The Graduate School.

Contact Us

For questions concerning program details and admissions, please contact

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