grad school selection -- advice from academia?

Justin A. Cobb cobb7707 at bellsouth.net
Tue Apr 12 06:49:55 EST 2005


In graduate school, who you choose for a research advisor or mentor is more 
important than where you do your studies.  For example, if Georgetown has 
more prominent faculty in the area of neuroscience in which you are 
interested versus MIT, it would actually be to your advantage to go to 
Georgetown.

Another, perhaps more important, consideration is that you find a mentor 
with which to work whose research you genuinely find interesting.  A Ph.D. 
program in neuroscience typically takes 5-6 years to complete, and you will 
have a very difficult time staying motivated if you do not have a strong, 
genuine interest in your research topic.

Whatever school you choose, if there are more than one faculty member with 
whom you might be interested in working, it might not hurt to consider doing 
a rotation in a couple of labs to see which one is the best fit for you. 
This might delay your degree by a semester, but it can be worth it in the 
long run if you find a lab with which you really "click."

Justin A. Cobb, M.S.
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
University of Mississippi Medical Center

"Matt Roos" <XXmatt.roos at verizon.net> wrote in message 
news:Qqadnc9o7dFNqcbfRVn-sg at comcast.com...
> Hi, All.  I'm looking for some thoughts and opinions regarding 
> neuroscience and grad school.  I plan to start working on my PhD this fall 
> and will be studying neuroscience at the systems and computational level. 
> I'm particularly interested in research on the auditory cortex, although 
> this is not a must.  I've been accepted at MIT in the Electrical 
> Engineering Department and at Georgetown in the Neuroscience Department.
>
> I would prefer to live in DC (Georgetown) and enroll in a neuroscience 
> program, thus the interest in Georgetown.  But MIT is excellent, of 
> course, and although I'd be in the EE Department, I could do computational 
> neuroscience research (there are plenty of people at MIT doing that type 
> of work) and probably take at least a few neuroscience courses.
>
> Since my end goal is to stay in academia and obtain a professorship (not 
> any easy thing to do), my concern is that my chances at getting a good 
> post-doc or professorship may be diminished if I attend Georgetown, a 
> second-tier program, versus MIT.  On the other hand, I've been told it may 
> be easier to get a *neuroscience* post-doc if I come from a neuroscience 
> program.
>
> Any thoughts from anyone?  In general, my preference is for Georgetown but 
> not if it is detrimental to my long-term career goals.  How significantly 
> does ones PhD alma mater affect subsequent academic possibilities?
>
> Thanks,
> Matt
>
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