Note: the Niv Lab is currently quite full and we are not actively searching for students, nor do we currently have open positions for postdocs.


Q: Are you accepting post-docs?

A. Right now, our lab is full and we are not hiring new postdocs. We will not likely have openings until 2024 at the earliest. In general, postdocs in the lab train in and work on one or more of these two areas: 1. computational psychiatry – suitable applicants will have background/interests in clinical psychology or psychiatry, and proficiency with computational modeling, and 2. model-driven investigations of learning and decision making, and especially representation learning – suitable applicants will have experience with computational modeling, fMRI and clever experimental designs to test hypotheses.

Graduate students

Q: Are you accepting graduate students next year?

A: Our lab is currently quite full and we are not anticipating accepting students in fall 2023 or fall 2024. As a mid-size lab, we normally accept one or zero graduate students every year. In general, we look for students who have a background and interests in psychology, neuroscience and computational modeling. This is a tall order, I know, but luckily there are some of you out there! To be considered for a graduate student position in the lab you must apply through either the Psychology or Neuroscience graduate programs (see the links for more information). You cannot apply directly to the lab, and you cannot apply to both programs in parallel. The deadline for applications is around November each year. In years in which we are accepting students, we typically have an open-house lab meeting in late October or early November where prospective applicants can join by zoom to “see” the lab in action. 

Q: What are the admissions criteria?

A: Admissions decisions are based primarily on your research experience and interests, your reference letters, and past academic performance (though the latter is the more minor consideration — grad school is not about taking classes, but about doing research). Having an idea of the sort of research you are interested in is important so that I can assess whether your interests are aligned with what we do. For more information about how to write your application, please take a look at this page. Please be advised that regardless of how well you fit our lab and/or program, spots in both the Psychology and Neuroscience graduate programs are very limited, and so nothing can be guaranteed and you are encouraged to apply to more than one school. If the application fees for different schools are prohibitive, please know that you can request a waiver at most schools, and definitely at Princeton, by emailing a request to the graduate school.

Q: Can you tell me what are my chances to be accepted to your lab/the Psychology graduate program/the Neuroscience graduate program, based on my CV and statement of interests?

A: No. All decisions are made after all applicants have formally applied to the different programs (see links above). If you wish to be considered for one of the graduate programs, please apply. If you are applying and are specifically interested in working in our lab, please mention Yael Niv as one of the three faculty in the application form. Note that in PNI (Neuroscience) there is an admissions committee who reviews all applications and makes decisions (with input from all faculty). In Psychology, each faculty member reviews their own applicants. Here, the order of faculty mentioned in the application does matter: faculty will often review carefully those who mentioned them first, and look at applicants that mentioned them second or third if flagged as a potential accept by the faculty mentioned first. 

Q: If I were to be accepted, can you provide funding for my studies?

A: Yes. All full time PhD students admitted to the lab are guaranteed funding for the normal time of completion of their degree. This money comes from various sources including student scholarships, teaching assistantships, central university funds for student support, and research grants. The details of where your support comes from should not be of concern to you, and I cannot possibly discuss any financial arrangements until after you have been admitted. However, all graduate students in the lab (and in our programs in general) are fully funded.

Q: Should I apply to the Neuroscience program or the Psychology program?

A: To decide on which program suits you most, the main question you should ask yourself is: am I primarily interested in understanding learning and behavior, and knowing about the brain (or using functional imaging) is but one of the tools I use (in which case you should apply to Psychology) or am I primarily interested in understanding the brain and how it realizes learning and behavior (in which case you should apply to Neuroscience). You should also read the information on the websites of the two programs (click here for Psychology and here for Neuroscience) to determine which program is best for you, as the course of studies in the two is quite different.

Research Assistants

Q: Can I work as a research assistant in your lab?

A: Princeton University (rightly) does not allow us to accept volunteers in our lab, and all research assistant positions are paid positions. Undergraduates in Princeton who are interested in our work can work in the lab as hourly employees during the school year, or as summer interns (see below). If you have already graduated from college and are looking for a full time research assistant position, check in with me by email. We typically have one or two full time research assistants/lab managers, and expect full time research assistants to stay in the lab for two years. We therefore hire ~1 research assistant per year.

Q: Do you accept foreign research assistants?

A: Unfortunately, due to visa regulations we cannot secure a work visa (or any other immigration-related documents) to the USA for foreigners interested in working in the lab at a post-bac level. Unless you have a Master's degree or you are coming as a graduate student, we cannot hire you to the lab. This is beyond our control. We do accept international students on OPT, but cannot provide OPT STEM extensions.


Q: Do you accept undergraduate summer interns?

A: We do have paid summer internships available in the lab, through a variety of different programs. If you are a Princeton undergraduate student interested in a summer internship, please contact us early (around March at latest) so we can establish whether you will be a good fit for the lab, and apply for different sources of funding for your summer work. If you are not a Princeton student and are a member of a group that is underrepresented in academia (broadly defined as pertains to racial minority, socioeconomical status, sexual orientation, or disability status) please apply through the PNI Summer Internship Program. Please feel free to also email me directly with a CV and short description of your research interests, so I can flag you as appropriate for my lab in particular.

Q: Do you accept foreign undergraduate interns that have their own funding?

A: Unfortunately, in most cases it is virtually impossible to secure a visa to the USA for foreigners interested in a short internship. Out-of-university visiting scholars can only visit as Visiting Student Research Collaborators (see details here), and acceptance to this position is rare. In our 13+ years of the lab we have only accepted two VSRCs, one of which was ultimately not granted a visa (please note that this is entirely outside of our control).

Q: Do you accept high-school students that are looking for a way to experience science hands-on?

A: Unfortunately, we do not currently have the manpower resources to accept and train high-school students.

(Some of the above was adopted from Sam Roweis's FAQ. Thank you, Sam.)