I am currently applying to graduate programs in Computer Science in the United States for admission next fall. I am particularly interested in the convergence of Computer Science and Computational Neuroscience, particularly in biologically-realistic neural computation and the analysis of human brain circuits and algorithms.

The faculty of most Computer Science departments I'm looking at, however, do not seem to be directly involved with Computational Neuroscience, and Neuroscience as a whole is dealt with as a separate department with faculty mostly from biology and psychology.

I would like to know whether there exist particular universities with Computer Science departments where there is an active research group working on Neuroscience and brain circuitry. Also, if I were to apply to universities where the Computer Science and Neuroscience departments are completely disparate, how could I possibly go about convincing the admissions department about the interdisciplinary research that I'd like to undertake, without undermining my entire application?

I apologize if this isn't the right place to post this question. I considered posting it on academia, but it seemed a bit too specific a subject for it to belong there.


3 Answers 3


My general advice would be to start by tracking down the faculty that are doing the kind of research you want to do. A good way to do this is to identify journal articles that appeal to you, and then figure out what lab they originated from. The labs might be in a computer science department, a neuroscience department, or even a computational neuroscience department. If the lab seems interesting, then evaluate the program to see if it seems like a good fit. For most graduate programs, individual faculty members have a lot of input into admissions. If there is someone who does the kind of work you want to do, then they are more likely to support your application.

This article has some really helpful advice about how to pursue computational neuroscience in programs that are not specifically 'computational neuroscience' programs.

Of course, there are some computational neuroscience programs, where interdisciplinary research will be the norm. A small sample of the ones that I am aware of:

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the advice. I came across that article earlier, and while it's a good resource, and the universities listed there do have a good environment for interdisciplinary research in Computational Neuroscience, most of them do not involve faculty from Computer Science, as far as I am aware. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2014 at 8:57
  • $\begingroup$ The phd in neural computation at the center for the neural basis of cognition at CMU/Pitt involves faculty from computer science. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Dec 4, 2014 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget the department of Philosophy too! $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Dec 4, 2014 at 15:10

From what you describe, computational neuroscience programs should fit your interests as they are highly multidisciplinary. Josh gave a great answer, so I only wanted to add the following.

  • This website contains links to various programs and labs that match your interests. Some are European but you can ignore them.

  • I don't remember if it is mentioned in the above website but Caltech has a program that you might know and it's called Neural Systems and computation

  • The Computer Science department of Carnegie Mellon has faculty doing research in computational neuroscience

  • $\begingroup$ That is an excellent list of labs working in Computational Neuroscience. Unfortunately, most of the researchers in those labs aren't involved with the Computer Science department in their respective universities. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2014 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ @user2364450 I edited my answer adding a department that might interest you $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2014 at 12:07

I would also recommend to subscribe to the connectionist mailing list here and the comp-neuro mailing list here where you can find frequent announcements of (new) PhD and master programs in computational neuroscience, besides conferences, workshops all over the world and other interesting things.


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