Graduate Program FAQ

How many faculty are in the NSIDP?

Students can choose to work with any of approximately 150 faculty in the NSIDP. 


How many graduate students are in the NSIDP?

There are usually 10-15 students in each cohort, and about 80 total students in the program at any given time.


What is the average duration of time for program completion?

Students can take anywhere from 4-7 years to complete their degree, and the average is about 5.5 years.


Do students tend to get training grants and external funding?

Yes, each year, many of our students are awarded prestigious fellowships. A list of the grants that students can apply for can be found here, and a list of our recent awardees can be found here.


Do most students live in graduate housing or private housing?

Usually, a few of our students each year will opt to live in graduate housing (Weyburn Terrace), which is a short walk from the neuroscience buildings on campus. Other students live in Westwood, West LA, Brentwood, Santa Monica, Culver City or West Hollywood. Click here for more information about student housing in the NSIDP.


Do most students have a car?

Yes, the majority of students in the NSIDP have a car. It is feasible to live in Westwood Village without a car since the campus is in walking distance, as are supermarkets, restaurants, and shopping. However, most of the students live relatively spread out from one another in LA, and so most will end upgetting a car by their second year. Public transportation in LA is better than its reputation and rapidly expanding. Also, biking is becoming more common, but potholes and driver unfamiliarity with bikes are still big obstacles.


How do students choose a dissertation lab?

Each student is required to complete two quarter-long rotations before committing to a lab (three rotations are strongly encouraged for most). During the rotations you can find out whether the ‘style’ of the lab suits your preferences. To set up a rotation, you should familiarize yourself with pertinent publications from the labs you are interested in. Then you canemail professors to set up private meetings, attend lab meetings, and seek advice from senior graduate students. You might also want to consider getting in touch with people who have left the lab to get a less biased outside opinion. This is especially important when you decide to join a lab: this will be your home-base for the next five or more years!


Do students ever have trouble finding a lab?

While the process of choosing a lab can sometimes be long, 100% of studentsin the NSIDP will find a lab to complete their dissertation in. Given the vast number of faculty in the program in proportion to the number of students, each student will be able to find a lab where they are happy. And frequently this is a different lab from the one you might have chosen in the beginning.


Are students in the NSIDP exposed to other graduate programs at UCLA?

UCLA is home to 17 additional graduate programs in Biosciences. Laboratories associated with these programs frequently have students from more than one program. Furthermore, many laboratories at UCLA are formally collaborating with many other labs at UCLA. Contacts with e.g. humanities or law are a bit looser but interactions and collaborations also exist with them.Through initiatives such as the Business of Science Center, opportunities in business and entrepreneurship are readily available, including networking for post-graduate careers in industry. Many additional such initiatives are inthe planning stages and hopefully soon available to students and postdocs.


Are students required to TA?

Yes, each student is required to TA at least one quarter. Some students will TA more than one quarter, due to interest in teaching experience or for funding reasons. The courses may be at the undergraduate or graduate level, and must be related to the field of neuroscience. 


What do NSIDP graduates typically go on to do after receiving their PhD degree?

Many of our graduates go onto obtain post-doctoral fellowships in academia, others go on to pursue careers in consulting, public policy, law, entrepreneurship etc both in the private sector and in government. Click here for more information about careers of NSIDP graduates.


Does the NSIDP require an Individual Development Plan?

The program does not require, but strongly encourages, all students to make their own career planning an active part of their life. The thesis committee and the graduate advisor can help in that, but it is ultimately the responsibility of the student.