MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP)

MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP)

2021 MIT Summer Research Program in Brain and Cognitive Neuroscience

The application portal will open on November 23, 2020. The deadline to apply is January 30, 2021. 

The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences offers jointly with the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines and the Department of Biology, 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, juniors and non graduating seniors) 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 other disciplines that are NOT related to biology, neuroscience or artificial intelligence should apply to the general MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP)

Applicants must meet the following qualifications:

  • be full-time undergraduate students at a college or university in the U.S.
  • be current sophomores or juniors or non-graduating seniors who have successfully completed introductory courses in the sciences
  • maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA in the science courses
  • have prior research experience
  • have demonstrated an interest in basic research and in a career in the sciences
  • students must be available to begin on the first date of the program, no exceptions
  • international students may apply if enrolled full time in a minority-serving institution in the United States (to check the status of your college or university, please click here)

The application will go live on November 25th at 6 p.m. The application will be automatically turned off on January 30 at 11:59 p.m. 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 recent unofficial college transcripts which should contain spring semester course list. 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
  • Faculty and peer mentorship

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 provides a wonderful opportunity to forge long-lasting friendships with peers in the program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the MSRP Program

Q: Can I enroll if I’m an international student attending a college or university not located in the United States?
A: No. Only international students who are enrolled in a college or university full time in the United States may apply. There are no exceptions.

Q: Should I apply if my GPA is under 3.5?
A: Your application will be less competitive, however if you have strong research experience, you should still apply.

Q: Is the 3.5 GPA requirement for all science courses or for cumulative GPA?
A: The 3.5 GPA requirement is for all your STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) courses.

Q: Do you need my transcripts for the fall semester?
A: Yes, we will need all transcripts including the ones for the current semester (they can be unofficial) before you complete your application. We’ll also need a list of classes you are enrolled in for the spring.

Q: My school is on a quarter system and classes won’t be completed until the MSRP Bio program has already started. Is there any flexibility in the start date?
A: Unfortunately due to the nature of the 10-week program, all students must be available to begin on the first day of the program.

Q: Are there any citizenship requirements?
A: The program is designed for students enrolled full-time in a university or college in the United States. If you are an international student and meet the conditions detailed in the program description (including attending a minority-serving institution) you may apply. If you are not sure if your school is a minority-serving institution, click here.

If you still have questions after carefully reading this FAQ, please email