Post-baccalaureate Research Scholars Program in Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Post-baccalaureate Research Scholars Program in Brain and Cognitive Sciences

The application deadline for the 2021-2023 cycle is March 1, 2021. The application portal opens on December 15, 2020. Click here to apply. See below for more information about eligibility, program structure, and application dates.

The Research Scholars Program in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences (BCS) is a prestigious two-year funded non-degree post-baccalaureate program for outstanding recent college graduates who plan to pursue a research career in neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience or neuroengineering. This program is specifically designed to provide individuals from under-represented minority groups in a STEM field, first-generation college students, individual students with disabilities, from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or veterans, the opportunity to receive additional research and academic training in neuroscience in preparation for PhD programs. Participants will conduct supervised research in any BCS lab of their choice, to take courses at MIT, and immerse themselves in the MIT culture and its academic rigors, while gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to become competitive PhD applicants, and successful graduate students.

The ultimate goal of the program is to increase the number of women and under-represented minorities in academic leadership positions in the field of neuroscience. Students admitted into the program receive a stipend, health benefits and tuition remission.

Postbac students have access to the same activities as graduate students. They conduct supervised research in a laboratory of their choice, take courses for credit, attend seminars, meet with their assigned advisor on a regular basis and are able to experience first-hand the life of a graduate student and the culture of MIT.

The importance of the post-bac program in targeting under-represented minorities in graduate education cannot be understated, especially given current political discourse. MIT has historically been a trailblazer in committing to and implementing diversity initiatives. The post-bac program is a direct extension of this tradition.


This program is primarily intended for individuals from under-represented minority groups in a STEM field, first-generation college students, individuals with disabilities, from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or veterans who need more research experience and academic preparation before applying to PhD programs in neuroscience.

All applicants must:

  • have US citizenship or US permanent residency (no exceptions)
  • must be from under-represented minority groups and come from economically disadvantaged backgrouns
  • have graduated from a four-year accredited US institution by the start of the program. Preference will be given to students who have graduated from college within the last 24 months.
  • have strong academic records (minimum GPA of 3.3)
  • have majored or minored in a STEM field with some prior research experience and a demonstrated interest in pursuing a PhD degree
  • psychology majors are eligible for this program

Priority will be given to applicants who had limited research opportunities in college.

Physics, math, engineering and computer science majors who are interested in the brain are welcome to apply.

For more information, please contact: Mandana Sassanfar, Ph.D. Outreach Officer MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Bldg. 46-2047 by Email:


Program Structure

The program is based on average of 80% research effort and 20% academic enrichment and course work. Participants will be assigned an academic advisor, with whom they will meet on a monthly 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. Participants are strongly encouraged to start as MSRP Bio students and will receive all of the benefits MSRP Bio students receive. Students will start the BCS Post-bac program on September 1st and will receive a stipend, health insurance, tuition remission, and similar benefits offered to MIT graduate students.

Course work
Course work will be tailored to each individual's needs. Courses for credit will only be offered during the first year of the program (up to twelve credits per semester) to build skills and knowledge in computational and quantitative methods, critical reading, analysis of primary research literature, and fundamental and advanced concepts in cognition and neuroscience. Participants will discuss their research on a monthly basis with their peers. They will prepare their graduate school application during the summer after completing their first year, learn about the various aspects 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 PhD degree holders. 

Participants will conduct supervised research in a host laboratory (85% in the summer, 70% during the first academic year and 85% in the second year) in one or more of the following areas: Cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, systems neuroscience, neuro-engineering, and cellular and molecular neuroscience. 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. After the first year participants can opt to swtich host laboratories, or continue their training in the same laboratory. At the end of the first year, all participants will give a formal research presentation open to the BCS community.

Program Completion
Advancement to the second year will depend on the participant's performance review at the end of their first year. At the completion of the program, students will receive a certificate and an official transcript from MIT that documents the subjects and research completed in the department. It is expected that following the completion of the program, all participants will start a PhD program.

Application and program dates

This post-baccalaureate program​ runs from September 1, 2021 to May 30, 2023.  The application portal will be open from December 15, 2020 to March 1, 2021. Click here to apply starting December 15, 2020. Applicants will be informed of their status by April 15, 2021. For more information, please contact BCS Outreach Officer Mandana Sassanfar, Ph.D. at