Neuroscience Major (MSc)
Information for prospective students
The major Neuroscience is one of the programs within the Molecular Biosciences Master Degree of the Faculty of Biosciences of the Heidelberg University. For more details about the Degree itself, check this website.
Why should you want to study Neuroscience?
Neuroscience is a very important and interesting discipline within molecular biology, with connections to many other disciplines like physics, psychology, chemistry and informatics. Many different diseases are associated with malfunctioning processes in the brain, which makes every contribution to elucidating these processes extremely valuable. Moreover, it is fascinating to learn how the brain functions because our own identity and the way we behave originates from it.
Why should you want to study Neuroscience in Heidelberg?
There are a couple of major advantages for joining the Neuroscience Major in Heidelberg. First, it is very strongly associated to the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences (IZN). This Institute combines over 60 research groups from the University of Heidelberg, the University Hospital, the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the Central Institute of Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim. There is no other Neuroscience Master in Germany that combines access to such a diversity in research groups, ranging from very basic molecular research to clinical science. For a complete list of all the associated Research Groups, take a look here.
The second unique characteristic is the flexibility of the program. There are only a couple of mandatory courses but most of the parts of the program are free to choose. You can decide for yourself where you want to do the labrotations and which seminars you want to follow. This also requires a certain amount of independence of the students but there is always the coordinator with whom you can discuss how to plan it. The flexible nature of the program also allows you to engage in other courses from other majors or even other faculties.
Even though the amount of possibilities at the IZN is extensive, the program encourages the students to explore the possibilities abroad as well. We offer allowances to cover some of the travel costs for those students that need that.
Most of our graduates pursue a career in academic science and therefore continue doing a PhD. Our highly individualized, lab-centered program provides a good basis for such a career. There are also students who opt for a career in industry or in other professions. That is also, why there is the possibility in the program to do a ‘Working in Bioscience’ traineeship.
The program is rather popular and the capacity is limited. We therefore select those students who fit the profile best and can clearly show their motivation.
As an applicant, you must have a BSc-level background in molecular cell biology. Applicants with non-biological degrees will be considered, but are only successful in exceptional cases. The program suits those students who have a keen interest in neuroscience, but who have not yet decided where to go in this field. While you are here, we urge you to try out at least three different areas of neuroscience research before deciding on a field for your MSc thesis. We believe that the prerequisite for a successful MSc thesis is that a student has found her/his individual research topic, her/his own way into neuroscience. This can only be done by looking around in various neuroscience disciplines and, eventually, making an informed decision concerning one's own preference. The program is for 99% in English, so you do not need to be able to speak German.
The program always starts in October, and the admission procedure commences in the preceding February. Applications are only accepted online via the admission portal of the Faculty of Biosciences, with the application period usually ending mid-March. For the ensuing review of the application material, the admission committee mainly considers your BSc transcripts and your letter of motivation. The most important factor for the decision of the committee is a personal interview, to which we invite about 60 of the most promising candidates in April/ May. With applicants who are unable to come to Heidelberg for an interview, we set up Skype interviews. Decisions are usually reached in May/June, and applicants are informed of the committee's decision.
You can only apply using the following link to the admissions portal of the Faculty of Biosciences:
Those of you who are interested in the basics of Neuroscience, the international Brain Research Organization published an excellent overview of the different topics. You can find it here: http://ibro.info/publications/neuroscience-science-of-the-brain/