Our unique PhD program pairs exceptionally motivated students with mentors who encourage a certain amount of independence. Each class of PhD candidates is small, as are Janelia’s laboratories. Therefore, students quickly become fully integrated in the lab and have exceptional opportunities for day-to-day contact with their lab heads and other colleagues. Graduate students at Janelia have been co-authors on manuscripts published in leading journals.
Julius Maximilians Universitat Wurzburg
University of Tokyo
Major: Biological Sciences, Zoology / Science
Major(s): Biological Science
Beijing Normal University
Major(s): Management Science
What makes our graduate program unique:
Our program is intentionally small, which allows us to meet each scholar's individual needs. The campus has approximately 45 resident scientists running independent, small laboratories. Students benefit from considerable personal attention in the laboratory to support their training and commitment to high-quality research. The program is dedicated to fostering each student’s experience and provides support from application process through the PhD thesis defense. Program administrators meet regularly with all students and are always available for informal conversations and to offer support.
Because Janelia hosts an extensive conference program, with attendees from the worldwide academic community, graduate students have unique access to leading scientists. Janelia also hosts a variety of seminars given by both external speakers and resident scientists, thereby fostering exposure to cutting-edge research in a range of disciplines.
Univeristy of Chicago
- Students apply directly through the HHMI/Janelia application system.
University of Cambridge
- Students apply to both HHMI/Janelia and the University of Cambridge.
Johns Hopkins University
- Student apply directly to the JHU neuroscience program
- Accepted students have the opportunity to conduct a summer research rotation at Janelia at the end of the first year. Click here for details.
Note: As the primary focus of our graduate program is on research, we highly value research experience as we evaluate condidates. University of Cambridge has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.5. University of Chicao has no minimum GPA requirements.
- Students will have two supervisors, one at Janelia and one at the partner university.
- University of Chicago and University of Cambridge: Students will reside at the partner institution while taking required courses, completing lab rotations, and coinducting research.
- Johns Hopkins University: Students reside at JHU while taking required courses, completing lab rotations, and will come to Janelia at the end of the first year for a summer lab rotation. At the end of the rotation, the student, advisors, and program directors will decide if the student will remain as part of the Janelia Graduate Program.
Years Two through Defense:
- Students reside at Janelia while conducting their thesis research.
- Degrees are granted by the partner university (Janelia is not a degree-granting institution.)
Some Financial and Visa Basics:
- Janelia Farm Research Campus, which is fully supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will pay all financial costs, including travel, for each graduate student.
- Janelia will sponsor visa applications for international students and assist with the details of obtaining a visa and/or sponsorship transfer if supported by one of the program's partner universities.
- Janelia coordinates all activities associated with each student's of study.
- Each academic year ends with a research symposium to will bring together members of the graduate programs and their mentors.
For our collaborative programs with the Universities of Chicago & Cambridge, you apply directly through the HHMI/ Janelia Farm application system. For our program with the Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Department, students apply directly to JHU (see program details above).
We ask for the following documents/information:
- Curriculum vitae, to include contact information, education and training, positions held, honors, publications, patents, and any additional scientific or academic materials.
- Research proposal: A suggested research project for your PhD work, based on the labs you are interested in at Janelia. 500 words or less, not including citations.
- Statement of research experience (500 words or less) .
- Undergraduate transcripts. If your institution does not issue transcripts, please provide a list of all college or university courses you have taken, dates completed, and grades/scores.
- Names and contact information for three references.
- GRE scores (only for University of Chicago applicants). University of Chicago GRE Institution Code: 1832
- TOEFL or IELTS scores for students from non-English-speaking countries.
- The names of three Janelia scientists you would like to work with.
- Optional: The names of three supervisors from the partner school you would like to work with.
- Optional: Submit up to three publications
- Optional: Disclosure of any held patents
To learn more about the exciting research being done at Janelia, visit our lab pages.
The Janelia Graduate program is now accepting applications for 2014. The deadline for all materials, including letters of reference, is January 7, 2014, 2 p.m. EST. To apply, please visit and register for our online application system.
If you are interested in applying to the Janelia/University of Cambridge Joint Program, you will also need to submit an application directly to the University of Cambridge. For more information about their application process and to apply, please click here. Please note that there is an application charge of £50 (GBP Sterling) per application that will not be waived.
Janelia's beautiful campus in suburban Washington DCX offers housing, a fitness center, dining facilities, a pub, social clubs and, sports teams – plus numerous other amenities and conveniences, including shuttle service and WiFi. Learn more about the campus.
Janelia’s modern and elegant laboratory building and conference facilities, including contemporary housing for overnight guests, are designed to blend into the natural surroundings of the nearly 700 acre site on the banks of the Potomac River in Virginia. The architectural design of the buildings and the laboratories are aimed at achieving Janelia's central objectives—collaboration and flexibility.
Life at Janelia
Students have multiple housing options within close proximity to the Janelia Farm campus, including nearby apartments and townhouses to rent with other grad students or Janelia staff.
Students may also choose to live on campus sharing one of Janelia Farm’s fully furnished, four-bedroom townhouses. Each bedroom has a private bath, and each home has laundry facilities. Occupancy fees include all utilities, such as Internet connection, water, gas, electric, phone, and water.
Janelia will sponsor visas for students to enter the United States and the United Kingdom (for applicants to the University of Cambridge), as appropriate and as permitted. If you are coming from outside the United States or the United Kingdom, you are responsible for determining if a visa is required and applying through your local embassy or consulate. In recent years, this process has become quite slow in some countries, taking up to several months. Therefore, we suggest that you apply for your visa as soon as possible after admission. The Program Administrator will be able to help with any questions you have. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- University of Chicago: Students must complete 9 graduate credits for the PhD, attend one ethics course, and serve as a teaching assistant.
- University of Cambridge: Students must reside in Cambridge for 3 terms and complete a first year research report. There is no required coursework. Three years are spent doing research in a Janelia laboratory. The thesis defense takes plaece at the University.
- Johns Hopkins University: Students must complete an ethics course, several courses in neural cognition, and 6 elective courses. There are additional journal club and seminar requirements, which can be fulfilled while in residence at Janelia.
Degrees are granted by the University of Chicago, the University of Cambridge, or the Johns Hopkins University.
Janelia partners with three premier institutions for its graduate program; University of Chicago, the University of Cambridge, and the Johns Hopkins University.
University of Chicago
Students may join one of several existing PhD programs at the university. These include the new interdisciplinary graduate program in biophysical dynamics and self-organization; the program in neurobiology, pharmacology and cell physiology; the computer science program; and others. Students are required to take courses their first year as well as to conduct research in the laboratiry of their Chicago supervisor.
Neuroscience at the University of Chicago.
University of Cambridge
Students are not required to complete coursewor, but may take any graduate or undergraduate course offered by the university. Students may elect to spend all of their time in Cambridge doing research. Program administrators will help students design a suitable program of coursework, as needed.
Prospective Graduate Students information
Johns Hopkins University (JHU)
Janelia is partnered directly with the JHU Neuroscience Department. Students apply and are accepted into the department independently of Janelia and may elect to conduct a summer laboratory rotation at Janelia during the summer at the end of their first year. Upon agreement by the student, advisors, and program directors, the student may join the Janelia Graduate Program to conduct their PhD research.
Students are fully supported financially while participating in the Janelia graduate program.
For the 2012/13 Academic Year
While in the United States (Janelia Farm or University of Chicago)
- Stipend of $33,000 per year.
- Health insurance, plus other benefits
- Payment of all programmatic travel costs.
While at the University of Cambridge
- Stipend of £19,919 for the first year, which is equivalent to the Wellcome Trust Ph.D. Studentship stipend (paid in UK pounds while in England).
- Health care while in the UK is provided by the National Health Service.
- Payment of all programmatic travel costs.
As the primary focus is research, we highly value research experience as we evaluate candidates. Cambridge University has a minimum GPA of 3.5. Chicago has no minimum GPA.