Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE) Post-Baccalaureate Program

Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE) is a comprehensive two-year post-baccalaureate (‘postbac’) research program. It is aimed at recent college graduates of high potential who are interested in pursuing a research career in neuroscience but lacked access to research opportunities as undergraduates.

The core of CADRE is a two-year research project advised by selected mentors. Postbacs will choose a lab from a range of neuroscience areas including behavioral and systems neuroscience, cellular, molecular and developmental neuroscience, computational neuroscience, human cognitive studies, and the neurobiology of neurological diseases. They will be supervised by engaged and enthusiastic mentors chosen for their mentoring track record and skills, as well by a graduate student peer mentor in the lab. The postbac’s research project will also be complemented with coursework to strengthen their academic foundations, though coursework is not the primary focus of the program. In addition, throughout the program, postbacs will attend seminars, lectures, and other educational events around Columbia University.

The CADRE Program is committed to training a diverse group of neuroscientists from a broad range of ethnic, cultural, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

This program is designed to exclusively support individuals who graduated from undergraduate institutions that did not provide an opportunity for research involvement that would be equivalent to that available at Research I institutions.

We will be able to accept 4 CADRE students per year.

Eligibility requirements

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, a noncitizen national of the U.S., or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
  • At program start (June 1, 2023), applicants must have received their baccalaureate degree in a biomedically relevant science from an accredited college/university.
    • Applicants cannot be enrolled in a degree-granting program when the CADRE program begins
  • Importantly, the baccalaureate degree MUST be from an institution that did not provide opportunities for a strong biomedical research experience.
    • Applicants who obtained their baccalaureate degrees from institutions offering doctoral degree programs in neuroscience-related biomedical sciences are NOT eligible.
  • The baccalaureate degree must have been awarded no more than 36 months (i.e. 3 years) prior to applying to this program. There are some exceptions to this limit:
    • Parental, medical, or other well-justified leave for personal or family situations is not included in the 3-year eligibility limit.
    • National service (e.g. Peace Corps, or service in Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard) also does not count toward this 3-year limit.
  • Applications from individuals from backgrounds under-represented in the sciences are especially encouraged
  • We recognize that you may not know if your institution and/or your degree major fit these criteria. For example, a major in math is relevant for theoretical neuroscience, and therefore would be relevant for this program. If you are unsure about whether you meet these eligibility criteria, you are welcome to still apply, or ask us a question by emailing [email protected]

Application Deadline: March 20th, 2023, 11:59 pm Eastern Time
Apply here!

Letter of recommendation due: March 20th, 2023, 11:59 pm Eastern Time
Share this link with your recommender.


Required components:

  1. Basic, demographic, and contact information
  2. Undergraduate transcript (unofficial or official transcript accepted)
  3. Resume / CV (2 pages maximum)
  4. List three (3) areas of neuroscience that interest you
  5. Essay question: a research question that interests you (1 page maximum)
  6. Personal statement (2 pages maximum)
  7. One (1) letter of recommendation (2 pages maximum; can be from a professor, a mentor, a job supervisor, etc.)

Pagination instructions: all page limits are based on the use of 1.5 spacing, 0.5" margins, and Arial 11-point font (or Times New Roman 12-point font)

Components 2-3, and 5-6 should be uploaded in PDF format.

Letter of recommendation (PDF format) should be submitted by the recommender through this link.


Detailed guidance on required components:

  1. Basic, demographic, and contact information (to be filled out in online form)
  2. Undergraduate transcript (unofficial or official transcript accepted)
  3. Resume / CV (2 pages maximum)
    • Overview of your professional, research, leadership, and/or volunteer experience
  4. List three (3) areas of neuroscience that interest you
    • Examples: learning and memory; cell and molecular neuroscience; neurodegenerative disease; movement disorders; cognition; decision making; theoretical neuroscience; etc.
    • For ideas of areas of neuroscience, see this page of Neurobiology and Behavior Program Faculty
    • Please note, you do not need to name faculty members for this application, and not all of these faculty members will be accepting postbac students
  5. Essay: a research question that fascinates you, and why (1 page maximum)
    • Prompt: Science is all about the big (or small) questions. What is a scientific question or problem that fascinates you? Or, what is a scientific question/problem that you wish we had an answer to?
  6. Personal statement (2 pages maximum)
    • Prompt: We want to get to know you, so tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Why are you applying to CADRE and what do you hope to gain?
    • Consider addressing any of the following themes:
      • How did you become interested in neurobiology and/or research?
      • What kind of neuroscience research are you most interested in, and why?
      • What experiences have you had in research and/or outreach (if applicable)?
      • How will CADRE inform or advance your career?
      • What challenges have you overcome and would like us to know about?
  7. One (1) letter of recommendation from someone who knows you well (2 pages maximum)
    • This letter should come from someone who knows you well (it can be from a professor, a mentor, a job supervisor, etc).
    • We are interested in hearing their perspective on your past experience and potential to carry on advanced study in neuroscience and research.

Application components 2-3 and 5-6 should be uploaded in PDF format.

Pagination instructions: all page limits are based on the use of 1.5 spacing, 0.5" margins, and Arial 11-point font (or Times New Roman 12-point font)

Apply Here!

Letter of recommendation (PDF format) should be submitted by the recommender through this link.

What we look for in the application:

  • Interest in pursuing a career in neuroscience research
  • Excellence in a student’s chosen undergraduate major
    • We recognize that the first year of college can be especially challenging and also that personal circumstances can impact academic performance (especially during pandemics).  All extenuating circumstances will be taken into consideration. You may include these circumstances in your personal statement if you are comfortable doing so, or reach out to a program Co-Director.
  • Taking courses in neurobiology, and related biomedical science courses is encouraged even if you have not majored in the subject. We recognize that each school may not offer the same variety of courses.
  • The CADRE program is an intensive research experience and students should enter with a mature view of the commitment involved.
    • Applicants should treat this program as a full-time research job

Columbia Access to Doctoral REadiness (CADRE) is a comprehensive two-year post-baccalaureate (‘postbac’) research program. As such, we provide students with the following:

  • Pay: approximately $44,400 per year + benefits
  • Full-time research experience with mentorship from faculty and peers
  • Workshops and courses on rigorous research and neuroscience topics
  • After 7 months in the lab, students can enroll in Columbia courses for credit for free (starting the spring semester of their first year in the program)
  • Support in applying for graduate programs or jobs toward the end of the program

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide housing, but accepted students will receive resources for finding housing in NYC.

January 2023: Application Opens

March 20, 2023: Application Deadline (Late applications will not be accepted)

April 2023: Interviews

April 14, 2023: Decisions announced

June 1, 2023: Program starts (Cohort I)

Summer/Fall 2024: Cohort I students apply to graduate school and/or jobs

June 2025: Program ends (Cohort I)

Dr. Wes Grueber, CADRE Co-Director, Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and Neuroscience; Principal Investigator at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Dr. Ulrich Hengst, CADRE Co-Director, Associate Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology (in the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain)

Dr. Aniruddha Das, CADRE Associate Director, Associate Professor of Neuroscience; Principal Investigator at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Ms. Alissa Mayers, CADRE Administrator, Senior Public Programs Manager at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Dr. Diana Li, CADRE Administrator, Senior Content Development Specialist at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute

Have questions about the CADRE program?

You can reach us by emailing [email protected]

Apply here!

Application Deadline: March 20th, 2023, 11:59 pm Eastern Time

Letter of recommendation due: March 20th, 2023, 11:59 pm Eastern Time
Share this link with your recommender.