We are committed to nurturing a diverse, respectful and caring scientific community, inclusive of all students, faculty and staff regardless of their background, gender, race or beliefs. We recognize that our ultimate goal of reverse engineering the human mind cannot be sustained without valuing the mental and physical health of our community. It is through the experience of diverse interests, strengths, viewpoints and concerns of fellow students, staff and faculty, that our community members become open-minded intellectuals, leaders and innovators, primed to pursue the MIT mission of advancing and sharing knowledge to meet the great challenges of our time.

Consistent with MIT’s 2004 goal, we will continue to work with our colleagues in the School of Science and across the Institute to increase the number of under-represented minorities across all groups within the BCS community. In pursuit of these objectives, the Department's Diversity Committee, constituted in 2012, strives to implement initiatives that can further strengthen our community. An example of such an initiative is the post-baccalaureate program we have launched to prepare talented URM students for graduate studies in top-tier neuroscience programs. As Chair of this committee, Prof. Pawan Sinha plays an active role in faculty hiring, ensuring diverse candidates from all backgrounds are duly considered. Additionally, the BCS community works with and empowers our Diversity and Outreach Officer, Mandana Sassanfar, Ph.D., to spearhead departmental outreach efforts to bring in diverse and under-represented communities into the MIT community. Through the action of a host of summer programs and weekly workshops, these efforts have significant impact on expanding diversity in our graduate and postdoctoral communities.

We, as a department, hold paramount the goal of identifying and welcoming all individuals who seek to unravel the profound mysteries of the mind.

For more on well-being, diversity, and inclusion at MIT, see the MIT Black Student Union’s Recommendations, and the home page of the Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO).

For more information about the department's diversity initiatives, please contact:

Pawan Sinha, BCS Professor and Chair, BCS Diversity Committee, psinha@mit.edu
Pia Handsom, Administrative Officer, handsom@mit.edu
Mandana Sassanfar, Ph.D. Diversity Officer, mandana@mit.edu

Undergraduate Summer Research Internships

2017 MIT Summer Research Program in the Neurosciences and Related Fields

Application Deadline: January 30, 2017 Apply Now

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT offers jointly with the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines a 10-week summer research-intensive training program in all fields of neuroscience to advanced sophomore and junior science majors from other colleges and universities. This summer internship program is funded in part by the MIT's School of Science and the National Science Foundation.

The summer program is primarily designed to encourage students from under-represented minorities, first-generation college students, and students from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds to attend graduate school and pursue a career in basic research, by providing them the opportunity to conduct supervised research in a top-notch research institution, in a supportive learning environment with plenty of interaction with graduate students and faculty. This summer program provides a unique opportunity for students who do not have access to top-notch research facilities at their own institution to conduct supervised research in state-of-the-art research facilities. Preference will be given to applicants from non-research intensive colleges and universities. 

Program eligibility and application

MIT undergraduates are not eligible for this program. If you are an MIT undergrad, see the UROP Program website. Students studying abroad are not eligible. Graduate students are not eligible. Only current undergraduate students (sophomores and juniors) studying full time in the US are eligible for this summer program, NO EXCEPTIONS. Foreign students are not eligible UNLESS they are enrolled full-time at a minority-serving institution in the US. Students interested in engineering and other disciplines unrelated to biology or neuroscience should apply to the general MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP)

Applicants must:

  • be full-time undergraduate students at an institution in the U.S.
  • be current sophomores or juniors who have successfully completed introductory courses in the sciences
  • maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA in the science courses
  • have prior reserach experience
  • have demonstrated an interest in basic research and in a career in the sciences

Applicants must apply using the online system. The application will be automatically turned off on January 30 at 5:00 PM. Late submissions will not be accepted. Therefore do not wait until January 30 to submit your application. A complete application consists of:

  • The completed on-line application form
  • Three letters of reference from science faculty (at least one letter must be from a research mentor or lab supervisor. Please note that applicants must submit letter of reference from their most recent research experiences.)
  • Most updated college transcripts (official transcripts will be required once applicants are admitted into the summer program) 
  • A one-page personal statement of interest and career goals

Program description

Students accepted into the program receive their 10-week training in one of over 60 research laboratories affiliated with the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS), the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM), or the Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience graduate program (MCN labs). Students conduct supervised research and receive practical training in areas such as molecular and cellular neurosciences, neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive sciences, computational neuroscience, psychophysics, linguistics, artificial intelligence, vision neuroscience. In addition, students receive training in reading and discussing primary scientific research papers, are exposed to scientific writing, practice giving oral presentations about their summer research, have many opportunities to meet with various faculty to learn about their research, and learn about various career paths.

Students accepted into the program receive:

  • Campus housing
  • A weekly stipend
  • Travel allowance to and from MIT (domestic travel only)
  • An MIT email account
  • Subsidized pass to the athletic facilities
  • Wireless internet access
  • Access to the MIT Medical Department

Students are expected to work full-time in the laboratory, to participate in weekly meetings with faculty, and to attend weekly academic seminars. The weekly seminars cover such topics as applying to graduate school, giving an oral presentation, writing a research abstract, learning about various career options available to Ph.D. graduates. These seminars are designed to help students improve their presentation skills and to be more competitive applicants. During the summer, students have several opportunities to give oral presentations on their research. At the end of the program students give a poster presentation on their research, submit a 5-page research summary, and a one-page personal statement about their summer experience at MIT. In addition students are invited to participate in weekend social activities, visit a local Biotech, and visit Boston and its vicinity. Students take a guided tour of Boston and the Freedom Trail, a one-day trip to Martha's Vineyard, and a 4th of July barbecue.  All of the students in the MIT summer reserach program live together on campus in shared suites with kitchens. This housing arrangement promotes social interactions and provide a wonderful opportunity to forge long-lasting friendships with peers in the program.

Please direct questions to msrpbio@mit.edu

Post-baccalaureate program

The Research Scholars Program in the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is a prestigious post-baccalaureate scholarship program for talented college graduates from under-represented minority groups or economically disadvantaged backgrounds who would benefit from additional course work and research experience to prepare them for graduate school in cognitive science, computational cognitive science, or neuroscience. This two-year, fully funded program allows Scholars to take courses at MIT, conduct supervised research in laboratories affiliated with the department, immerse themselves in the MIT culture and experience first-hand its academic rigors, while gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to make them competitive graduate applicants, and successful graduate students. To learn more about our post-baccalaureate program please visit the post-bac page.

High School Programs

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences is actively involved in science outreach at the high school level.

For teachers

The goal of these outreach programs is to make science fun and exciting by bringing new hands-on activities into the classrooms, and to make teaching and learning science a more enriching and rewarding experience for both students and teachers. Science teachers from the greater Boston area are invited to:

  • Attend a 5-day summer workshop with lectures on current topics in neuro and cognitive sciences and hands-on laboratory activities.
  • Apply for a six-week summer research internship in a BCS lab at MIT
  • Bring their honors and advanced placement biology classes to MIT for faculty lectures and hands-on lab activities
  • Attend monthly faculty lectures at the Whitehead Institute during the school year
  • Become involved in science curriculum development.

Interested parties should contact Dr. Mandana Sassanfar mandana [at] mit.edu for further information.