1. What are my chances of getting accepted?
That depends on many variables. In 2012 we received over 200 completed applications from well-qualified students for twelve positions. Successful applicants typically have a 3.0 GPA or better (on a four-point scale); solid performance and completion of several upper-level science courses; strong letters of recommendation; and, most importantly, a thoughtful personal statement that clearly defines how participation in the CNUP summer program will help achieve their career goals in neuroscience research.
2. I have no research experience. Can I still apply?
Yes! A principal goal of the CNUP summer program is to provide research opportunities to qualified undergraduates who lack such opportunities at their home institution.
3. I am not an American citizen. Can I still apply?
We only accept applications from students who currently are enrolled as full-time undergraduate students at a U.S. college or university, or who are citizens of the U.S. or her protectorates, including residents of Puerto Rico.
In all cases, international applicants while be required to provide official authorization for Optional Practical Training (OPT) from their home institution, prior to their arrival in Pittsburgh.
4. Can I register for other coursework while I'm a summer fellow?
No. We expect that each fellow will devote most of his or her time to laboratory research.
5. My school is on the quarter system (or the term does not end until after the start date of the CNUP summer program). Can I still apply?
We realize that our program does not fit all college schedules, and that this may be limiting. We strive to have all fellows begin and complete the program at the same time. All summer fellows are required to participate in chemical hygiene and laboratory safety training, and in small animal IACUC training. Training sessions are scheduled on campus during the first two days of the program. You must be able to complete this training to be considered for a fellowship. In addition, formal research presentations by the fellows are held on the final day of the program, and all fellows are expected to attend.
6. I am a freshman (or senior/recent graduate). Can I still apply?
Our program is designed to provide an intensive research experience to qualified undergraduate students who are beginning to formulate future career plans, which potentially include neuroscience research. Thus, most successful applicants to the CNUP summer program have recently completed their sophomore or junior years and are actively preparing for postgraduate training. In unusual cases, we have funded younger students with exceptional backgrounds.
7. I am a nontraditional student. Can I still apply?
In principle, yes. Note that a desirable and valuable aspect of our program is the camaraderie that develops among the fellows, who mostly are 18- to 20-year-old college undergraduates. Fellows are housed in a common dormitory and spend a great deal of time together discussing their laboratory experiences and exploring the Pittsburgh area. In special circumstances, however, we can accommodate a committed non-traditional student.
8. I'm going to apply to medical school and will be studying for my MCATs during the summer. Will this work out OK if I'm accepted into your program?
The goal of our summer program is to help students decide if a scientific research career is right for them, and to enhance students' ability to compete successfully for admission to graduate training programs in neuroscience-related disciplines. In our experience it is not possible for students to fully participate in our summer program and simultaneously study for the MCAT exam. Our program also is not appropriate for students who are considering a clinical career in medicine that does not include a laboratory research component.
9. How many hours per week do we have to work in the lab?
The precise number of hours—and when they fall during the day— will be dictated by the nature of the experiments that you undertake. Be prepared to immerse yourself full-time in your research project, and enjoy this unique opportunity.
10. If I am accepted into the program, can I start a little late (or finish a little early)?
Generally, no. As noted above, there are essential training sessions that take place during the first several days of the program; formal research presentations by the fellows are held on the final day of the program.
11. I received an independent award for summer research. Can I still receive a CNUP fellowship?
No. In order to be considered for participation in the CNUP program, you would need to relinquish the other funding. The CNUP summer program provides funds for a maximum of ten qualified undergraduates who do not otherwise have an opportunity to engage in summer research. We also want our fellows to spend almost all of their time working in the laboratory, rather than attending classes or meetings that sometimes are required by other programs. If you would like to retain your independent funding while pursuing neuroscience research, we can advise you on potential summer mentors on the Pitt or Carnegie Mellon campuses.
12. I don't wish to have a roommate. Can I get a single room?
This often is possible, if you are willing to pay the single-room surcharge out of your own pocket. We encourage students to share a room because this increases the opportunity to you to form long-lasting collegial relationships with your peers.
13. I want to bring my car to campus. Where will I park?
Parking permits are available through the University. Students are responsible for their own parking expenses. Pittsburgh has an excellent public transportation system, and students can get just about anywhere they need to go on the bus.