JUNE 12 – AUGUST 11, 2017 (9 WEEKS)

The Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI) is offering a summer internship program for highly motivated undergraduates, providing education and hands-on research experience in the field of neuroscience. Participants will closely collaborate with students and faculty at PNI on original research projects, and thereby gain invaluable first-hand experience on what it is like to be a neuroscientist.

Summer interns will also participate in group educational activities, including weekly foundational overview lectures from PNI faculty, lab meetings with the researchers with whom they will work, journal club reading groups, plus special forums on topics such as career advice and graduate school application preparation. Applicants must be current undergraduates, US citizens, permanent residents, or foreign undergraduates attending a US educational institution. The program offers a competitive stipend and covers travel and housing expenses for visiting students.

The PNI welcomes and encourages applications from those who identify themselves as belonging to groups that have been historically underrepresented among researchers in the sciences. (For the official federal designations of these groups, please see this list of definitions.) 

All interested students should submit an online application here by the deadline of February 1, 2017.

Contact Ed Clayton with any application questions. Please read our Summer Internship Program FAQ section below for answers to common questions.

Summer Internship Program FAQ

Program Eligibility

Who should apply?

The summer undergraduate research program is geared towards undergraduates who have a strong passion for scientific research and are seriously considering graduate studies in neuroscience. We encourage applications from future researchers whose participation will add to the diversity of researchers in the sciences, or who are from institutions that do not have large research programs.

Visiting student applicants must be current undergraduates who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. International undergraduates attending a U.S. educational institution are also eligible to apply.

Princeton University undergraduates are most welcome to apply. Please note that graduating seniors are ineligible for this program.

It depends. Non U.S. citizens/residents who attend a U.S. educational institution are eligible to apply. Non U.S. citizens/residents who attend a college or university located outside of the U.S. are not eligible to apply.

No. Applicants should be current undergraduates - rising sophomores, rising juniors, or rising seniors during the summer they participate in the program. High school students, incoming college freshmen, as well as students who will receive their bachelor’s degree before the start date of the summer program are not eligible to apply.

Application Process

To apply to the summer program, please submit the following:
1. Application form (submitted online)
2. Personal statement (included in the online application form)
3. Two letters of recommendation from faculty members (submitted online by faculty recommenders - separate from the application form)
4. Transcript(s) of all undergraduate courses and grades, including the 2016 Fall semester (submitted online).

The application deadline is February 1, 2017. All required application components must be submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1.

In your personal statement, please briefly describe your academic background, research interests, career goals, reasons for applying to the program, and how your participation in the program may assist in attaining your future ambitions. Please limit your statement to 750 words.

In your application form, we ask you to specify 3 or 4 PNI labs in which you would most prefer to work. You can learn more about our faculty and their research by exploring the PNI website, starting at the faculty research page. Please note that not all of the faculty listed on this page will be participating in the program this year; only those listed in the application form will be valid choices.

The online application site will have a dedicated section for entering the contact information for your recommenders. A notice will be emailed to each referee and they will be asked to complete a short reference survey and provide a brief overview of your qualifications for our program. You do not need to submit your application for your recommenders to receive their email notices. Please only supply an institutional email address (.edu, .org, .gov) for both your referees. We will not accept referee email addresses from private accounts such as Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Google, etc. Please contact Ed Clayton at ec12[at]princeton[dot]edu with any questions, problems, or concerns regarding this policy.

It is helpful to have your recommendation letters come from college level advisors, professors, researchers, or professionals who can remark on your laboratory skills, academic background, problem solving abilities, and overall scholarship. Recommendations can be written by faculty/advisors from your home institution or by professionals outside your home institution (such as an advisor from a past internship). Current college freshmen should avoid submitting recommendations from high school teachers but should feel free to mention high school achievements in their personal statement.

You can change your referee only if she/he has not submitted a recommendation yet. To do so, log in to your application, revise the referee information and click the button to update your application. An automated email with the recommendation link will then go out to the new referee asking her/him to submit a recommendation on your behalf. The original referee will also receive an email notifying her/him that the prior invitation s/he received is no longer valid. Please let your original referee know of the change before she/he receives the automated email notice.

Your application is automatically considered complete and submitted once we have received all the appropriate materials. The online application site will display check marks once you’ve submitted the the required responses.

Yes. You can complete your application before your recommendation letters are submitted.

Please log in to the online application page to check the status of your letters. The reference letter status is listed at the bottom of your application home page. You can log in to the system and check the status of your recommendations anytime.

An unofficial copy is acceptable and can be submitted via the online application portal. Transcripts should be sent as a .pdf, .doc, .docx, .jpg, or .html file. Please do not mail a hard copy of your transcript.

Please log in to the online application page to check the status of your application. If all required sections are checked off, your application is complete.

All applicants will be notified of the Selection Committee's decision by email in early March.

We encourage applications from research-oriented undergraduates whose participation will add to the diversity of researchers in the sciences. The federal government, through the National Institutes of Health, provides standard defined categories of groups of individuals who may be underrepresented in health-related sciences. For the official designations of these groups, please see this list of definitions.

Program Specifics

The program runs for nine weeks from June 12 – August 11, 2017

The PNI will arrange for housing for visiting students. Current Princeton undergraduates will need to arrange for their own housing. If you have specific questions about housing arrangements on or off campus, please email Ed Clayton.

Each student is placed in a world-class research laboratory – headed by a Faculty member – and carries out an original research project. Students will experience first-hand what it is like to be a scientist.

We carefully match students to labs based on their research interests as indicated in their application form, recommendation letters and personal statement. We take into consideration each applicant’s overall experience, academic background, and objectives to ensure a good match. Particular lab requests cannot be guaranteed.

Lab assignments are emailed to program participants in March.

Please email Ed Clayton at: ec12[at]princeton[dot]edu.

 Federal definitions for "Underrepresented", "Disabled" and "Disadvantaged Background"


Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data at NCSES Publications and Data and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). The following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research:

  1. American Indians or Alaska Natives
  2. Blacks or African Americans
  3. Hispanics or Latinos
  4. Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders


Individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Disadvantaged Background

  1. Individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds. These thresholds are based on family size, published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census; adjusted annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index; and adjusted by the Secretary for use in all health professions programs.  The Secretary periodically publishes these income levels at Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

    For individuals from low-income backgrounds, the institution must be able to demonstrate that such candidates (a) have qualified for Federal disadvantaged assistance; or (b) have received any of the following student loans: Health Professional Student Loans (HPSL), Loans for Disadvantaged Student Program; or (c) have received scholarships from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Scholarship for Individuals with Exceptional Financial Need.

  2. Individuals who come from a social, cultural, or educational environment such as that found in certain rural or inner-city environments that have demonstrably and recently directly inhibited the individual from obtaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to develop and participate in a research career.