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Input-output: The Role of Undergraduate Curriculum in Successful Graduate Training in the Neurosciences

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Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
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Abstract

This article was motivated by the 2010 SfN session on Undergraduate Curricula and Graduate Expectations. To prepare for my role as panelist, I examined the background of Washington University Neuroscience Ph.D. students. Current students with a declared thesis lab were queried, and records from past graduates were reviewed to determine the characteristics that contribute to graduate success. This pilot research suggests that no specific undergraduate curriculum element or quantitative undergraduate achievement metric predicts success at the graduate level, measured by graduate GPA, years to degree, or number of publications. I extrapolate these results to suggest that students from non-typical backgrounds should not be deterred from applying to Ph.D. programs in Neuroscience. I speculate that less tangible traits may be most important for graduate success. These include critical thinking skills and independent research experience.

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