Finding a Supervisor

The Importance of a Supervisor

Choosing a supervisor is one of the most important decisions you'll make in graduate school. They'll be your mentor and adviser, and you'll work together closely throughout your graduate career.  Applicants are not required to have a supervisor in order to apply, but it is encouraged.

Researching Potential Supervisors

You should select a supervisor with a strong record of research and publication in your area of interest. When looking into potential supervisors for your program, become familiar with the type of research they do and their working style.

  • Read journals or conference papers, and sit in on any presentations.
  • Look on their web site and read their CV. Their publications should give you a sense of the type of research you'd be doing.
  • Talk to their students (without the supervisor present) to get a sense of how you'd fit together.

Finding the Perfect Fit

Contact each of your potential supervisors to discuss your research interests, and see if they would be interested and available. Be sure to ask them about their availability during your graduate program, and whether they're planning any extended absences during that time. When considering potential supervisors you should talk to several professors before asking one to become your supervisor. Be sure you understand what your prospective supervisor would expect of you as a graduate student.

You will not be admitted into the program unless a supervisor agrees to accept you as a student. An applicant is not required to have a supervisor to apply, but it is encouraged. It is the applicant’s responsibility to contact Faculty members whose research areas are of interest to them.

NOTE: The following faculty members have informed the program office that they will NOT be accepting neuroscience students in the 2024 admissions cycle.  Please do not contact them regarding supervision: M. Anderson, D. Ansari, L. Batterink, M. Daley, M. Duennwald, P. Frewen, T. Gofton, M. Goodale, E. Hampson, M. Joanisse, E. Loh, S. MacDougall-Shackleton, K. McRae, J.P. Minda, S. Mirsattari, M. Mur, A. Pruszynski. 

View a current listing of our Neuroscience Core Faculty

International Students: We strongly encourage International applicants to apply early due to anticipated timelines for visa processing. An early application can be especially important, as funding to accept new International students can be limited for some supervisors (particularly those whose home department is Psychology). We strongly recommend that you make contact with prospective supervisors prior to applying and incurring the $150 application fee. Applicants with an interest in working with a Faculty member whose home department is Psychology are encouraged to apply no later than Friday, January 19th for Fall entry.

Sample questions for Prospective Supervisors

This list is an example of the types of questions you can ask a prospective supervisor.  Please adapt as you see fit and feel free to ask some of your own.

We also recommend that you speak with current (or past) students and/or post-docs to ask about the work environment and day-to-day life within the lab. 

  1. What is your leadership style?
  2. Do you prefer to supervise students directly, or is there another person in the lab I'd be working closely with?
  3. What are expectations for students to be present in the lab on a daily or weekly basis? Are the hours fixed or flexible?
  4. Can you put me in touch with some of your current students?
  5. How much flexibility would I have in choosing my own research project? 
  6. How often do you like to meet with your students to discuss progress and concerns?
  7. How hands-on / hands-off are you in the lab? 
  8. Are there particular skills or knowledge that I should have prior to entering your lab (coding, statistics etc.)?
  9. Do the members of the lab generally get along? Is it a supportive working environment?
  10. Where have graduates of the lab ended up working?