(1) Do I have to wait until I complete both degrees before my undergraduate degree is awarded?
No. Each degree is awarded independently by meeting its requirements. As soon as you meet the requirements for the Bachelor’s degree, it will be conferred (ie., through regular processes). However, you will be able to continue on in the MA program, and graduate neuroscience courses you took during your undergraduate degree will be applied to your MA.
(2) I am not actively involved in research as an undergraduate, can I still apply?
To apply to the accelerated program, you have to be actively involved in research. For example, you must obtain a letter of recommendation from your research mentor to apply to the accelerated program. If you are not conducting research but are still interested in the program, contact Jeff Beeler, email@example.com, to discuss further.
(3) Can I apply for the undergraduate Neuroscience Major at the same time as applying for the BA/MA program in Neuroscience?
This depends. A critical aspect of applying for the accelerated MA option is to be actively involved in research and obtain a letter of recommendation from your current mentor. Some students do become involved with research prior to applying to the Neuroscience Major, often taking appropriate courses for the major as well. In this instance, you could simultaneously apply for both. Otherwise, you would have to apply first for the Neuroscience Major and after getting involved in research subsequently apply for the accelerated MA option. In addition, admission to the accelerated program is competitive. Consequently, students with more extensive research experience will be given preference. If you are not a Neuroscience major, you may apply at any time so long as you have met the minimum required coursework and are actively involved in research.
(4) How early/late can I apply?
Admissions to the dual option is rolling, meaning that you can apply at any time. However, you should apply early enough to be able to register for graduate courses before they fill up and close. Thus, we recommend applying as early as you can—as soon as you have sufficient research experience with a current mentor. Regarding how late can you apply: you need to be accepted into the dual program in time to successfully register for graduate courses in your senior year, ideally before registration begins for Fall of your senior year. You can apply later, but if courses are full you will not be able to register, whether you have been accepted into the program or not.
(5) Can I take graduate courses as a junior?
In principle, a student accepted into this program prior to their junior year could take graduate courses during their junior year. However, undergraduate neuroscience courses would need to be completed first before tackling graduate neuroscience courses. To be accepted into the program in the first place requires a track record of research with a mentor. Most students will not complete the necessary undergraduate neuroscience and research, apply and be accepted into the program prior to their junior year. Nonetheless, for those students highly motivated and focused on neuroscience, this is possible. NOTE: only 12 credit hours of graduate coursework can be applied toward both the undergraduate and masters degree. This is a College-wide policy.
(6) I am interested in neuroscience, but from a different angle, such as computer science and neuroscience, or law and neuroscience. Could I still pursue this program?
We are working to make our Neuroscience Masters program more flexible to allow students to pursue non-traditional careers in neuroscience. If you are interested in something and not sure, contact Jeff Beeler at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
(7) I am not interested in neuroscience research as a career goal, but would like to take graduate level courses in neuroscience to strengthen my application for other professional doctoral programs, such as medicine. Can I just take graduate courses without doing research or being in the accelerated program?
No. Undergraduates take undergraduate courses and graduate students take graduate courses. In the accelerated program, students are effectively accepted into the MA program in advance of completing their bachelor degree. In this sense, though technically still undergraduates, practically students in the accelerated are simultaneously both undergraduate and graduate students. The objective of the program is to facilitate students interested in pursuing neuroscience research and obtaining an MA degree at Queens College as a path to entering a competitive PhD program in neuroscience. The purpose is not to simply provide undergraduates an option to take graduate courses. This is why a key factor in evaluating an application is the applicant’s commitment to research, as demonstrated through the extent and commitment in prior research experience.