Behavioral Neuroscience PhD and Cognitive PhD Programs: Admissions Requirements and Process

The Department of Psychology at the University at Buffalo uses a holistic admissions process in our consideration of applications.  This means that we evaluate the entire application, rather than any single indicator or a few indicators. Thus, applicants are viewed as a whole person, the sum of their experiences, accomplishments, and aspirations. Consistent with this, we do not rely on or use “cut offs” for numerical indices of an academic record such as grade point average. A holistic approach also means that a candidate who may be less strong in some areas, can still have a highly competitive application by having greater strength in other areas. All elements of an application are taken into consideration, to maximize a good fit of the applicant with our training program and potential mentors, to reduce bias that can result from reliance on a limited number of components, and to reduce inequities in access to opportunities for graduate training. 

Over the years, we have learned that a holistic admissions process helps us identify applicants who are likely to succeed in our graduate programs, brings a diversity of experience and ideas into our academic community, and supports a fair review of all applicants. Our goal is to recruit the next generation of academic psychologists who are passionate about making new discoveries and generating new knowledge in their chosen discipline.  We expect students to bring hard work, professional ambition, resilience, grit, intellectual acumen, and enthusiasm to our graduate programs.

Although we value quantitative criteria like GPA, we take a broad view of academic excellence and recognize that indices of success in our graduate programs and professional achievement cannot be reduced to numbers alone. In short, we endeavor to balance quantitative and qualitative indices of success. Because we want to give students the greatest opportunity to thrive in our program, we place a strong emphasis on fit with our programs and potential faculty mentors. A highly qualified applicant may not be strongly considered if their interests and goals do not provide a good fit with the orientation of our training program or with faculty research interests. Accordingly, we consider the following components in our admissions decisions: personal statement, undergraduate transcript and GPA (and prior graduate record if applicable), letters of recommendation, and resume/research experience. After initial review of applications, the selected students may be contacted for interviews by prospective advisors.

Schomburg statements are optional for students interested in being considered for a Schomburg Fellowship. These statements are not used for admissions decisions.

Components of the application and how they are used in Behavioral Neuroscience PhD and Cognitive PhD admissions decisions

Personal Statement (required)

Transcript and GPA (required)

Letters of recommendation (3 required):

Resume and research experience (required):


Schomburg Statement (optional Applications to our doctoral program):