Outreach & Diversity

Outreach & Diversity

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences offers a number of science outreach programs in collaboration with the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, and the Department of Biology. These programs offer summer research internships for undergraduate students from other colleges and universities, a two-year post-baccalaureate program for talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had limited academic or research opportunities at their undergraduate institutions, a mini-sabbaticals for faculty from minority-serving institutions, a week-long summer workshop for high school science teachers, and class field trips with hands-on activities for high school science teachers and their students.

The goal of these science outreach programs is to develop students' interests in neuroscience and cognitive science and basic research early in their education, and provide additional academic and research training opportunities in preparation for PhD programs in the variious fields of neuroscience.    In addition, these programs aim to help science teachers keep up with the latest developments in neuroscience and cognitive sciences, and provide opportunities for collaborations between MIT scientists and faculty at minority serving institutions with limited research facilities.

By sharing its intellectual wealth, cutting-edge research, teaching facilities, and technical expertise, the BCS community and the MIT community at large hope to make important contributions to science education and the development of future scientists.

For more information, please contact: Mandana Sassanfar, Ph.D. Outreach Officer MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Bldg. 46-2051 by Email: 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

Program dates: July 2017- June 2019.

Application Deadline: February 15, 2017

On-line application will open on December 15, 2017

Applicants will be informed of their application status by April 15.


The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) is offering a highly competitive 2-year post-baccalaureate Research Scholar Program in Brain and Cognitive Sciences for outstanding college graduates from under-represented minority groups, or economically disadvantaged backgrounds who would greatly benefit from additional course work or research experience to prepare them for graduate school in a field related to cognitive sciences or computational neuroscience.

This two-year, fully-funded program allows Scholars to take courses at MIT, conduct supervised research in BCS labs, immerse themselves in the MIT community, and experience first-hand MIT's culture and academic rigors, while gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to make them competitive graduate applicants, and successful graduate students.


All applicants must:

  • have US citizenship or US permanent residency
  • have graduated from a four-year accredited US institution by the start of the program (graduating seniors and applicants who have received their undergraduate degree within the last 12 month are eligible to apply)
  • be individuals from an under-represented group, or first-generation college, or from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, or  individuals with disabilities. 
  • have strong academic records (minimum GPA of 3.5) 
  • have majored in a STEM field
  • have some prior research experience
  • have demonstrated a genuine interest in pursuing a PhD degree
  • be able provide the name of three science faculty who can evaluate the applicant's academic promise, intellect, character, potential to benefit from this 2-year program, and motivation for pursuing a PhD degree.

Program structure

The program is based on a 70% research effort and 30% academic enrichment and course work. Participants will be assigned an academic advisor, with whom they will meet on a biweekly basis, and a research mentor (an MIT faculty member in the department of Brain and cognitive Sciences) who will host the student in his or her lab. Scholars will receive a weekly stipend, health insurance, access to MIT graduate student housing, tuition remission, and other benefits offered to MIT graduate students.   

Course work

Course work will be tailored to each individual needs. Participants will take one to two courses for credit per semester to build their skills and knowledge in:

  • Computational skills and Quantitative Methods  
  • Critical reading and analysis of primary research literature.
  • Fundamental and advanced concepts in cognitive and computational neuroscience.

Each participant will present their research on a monthly basis. Participants will prepare their graduate school application during the summer after completing their first year, take the GRE exam, learn about the various aspect of the graduate application process required for submitting a competitive application and having a successful interview, explore funding opportunities for graduate school, and learn about various careers available to Ph.D. degree holders.


Participants will conduct supervised research in a host laboratory (85% in the summer, 70% during the academic year) in one the following areas: Cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, systems neuroscience, neuro-engineering. Participants will work in a fast-paced, supportive research environment and learn to become independent researchers, who can design and conduct experiments, collect and analyze data, and present their work to both general and specialized audiences.

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.