Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Text Size

Neuroscience Boot Camp


Why Neuroscience Boot Camp?

The application period for Neuroscience Boot Camp 2014 is now over. If you have questions, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . In order to receive information about Boot Camp 2015, sign up for our mailing list on the right.

Neuroscience is increasingly relevant to a number of professions and academic disciplines beyond its traditional medical applications. Lawyers, educators, economists and businesspeople as well as scholars of sociology, philosophy, applied ethics and policy are incorporating the concepts and methods of neuroscience into their work. For any field in which it is important to understand, predict or influence human behavior, neuroscience will play an increasing role. The Penn Neuroscience Boot Camp is designed to give participants a basic foundation in cognitive and affective neuroscience and to equip them to be informed consumers of neuroscience research.


Through a combination of lectures, break-out groups, panel discussions and laboratory visits, participants will gain an understanding of the methods of neuroscience and key findings on the cognitive and social-emotional functions of the brain, lifespan development and disorders of brain function. Each lecture will be followed by extensive Q&A. Break-out groups will allow participants to delve more deeply into topics of relevance to their fields. Laboratory visits will include trips to an MRI scanner, an EEG/ERP lab, and a transcranial magnetic stimulation lab. Participants will also have access to an extensive online library of copyrighted materials, including classic and review articles and textbook chapters in cognitive and affective neuroscience.

College and university faculty, professionals in journalism, law, government and advanced graduate students are encouraged to apply. The only prerequisites are a grasp of basic statistics and at least a dim recollection of high school biology and physics. (A short set of readings will be made available prior to the Boot Camp to remind you of the essentials.)

Please note that neuroscience boot camp is not open to undergraduate students. For information on educational and summer internship opportunities in neuroscience available to undergraduates at Penn, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The cost of Boot Camp is $5,375, which includes tuition and fees, housing with breakfast and dinner, lunches and three evening receptions. For those who do not need housing the fee is $4,675. Limited scholarship aid is available. Participants will be housed at the new Hilton Homewood Suites-University City. Breakfast will be served at the hotel every morning, and dinner will be served by the hotel Monday-Thursday. Lunches will be eaten with the group.

The academic program spans eight days, Monday-Wednesday, with all of Sunday off. Each session will begin at 9:00a.m. and end at 6:00p.m. The program begins with a welcome reception on the evening of Monday, July 28th and concludes with a dinner party on the evening of Wednesday, August 6th.

All facilities at the Hilton Homewood Suites and the primary classroom site at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science are ADA-compliant. The hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle service in order to assist participants in going from the hotel to the classroom site each day. The distance between Hilton Homewood Suites and IRCS is approximately 0.7mi. Neuroscience Bootcamp involves a number of on-campus field trips, which will require walks ranging from 5-20 minutes.

For details on distances and walking time between locations, please download this map. For additional questions regarding accessibility, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


All applicants should prepare the following documents. Complete applications will be due by Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 11:59pm, Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5).

(1) Brief (not more than 200 words) statement of interest – How is neuroscience relevant to your work and how would you apply what you learn at Boot Camp?

(2) CV

(3) Applicants who are students or completed their graduate/professional training in 2010 or later will also need to submit one recommendation letter. The letter should discuss the quality of your work and intellectual strengths and weaknesses. Recommendation letters may be submitted via the application site, or separately to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Please name the recommendation letter "firstname_lastname_rec" (example: john_smith_rec).



Applicants applying for financial aid should submit a short statement explaining how much support is needed (including full support if necessary). Please also describe, to the best of your ability, how you would use what you learn at boot camp to further contribute to your professional or academic field. We also ask that you list potential sources of support, such as employers or graduate programs that you have approached, along with the result.

Media Coverage:

Reuters: Cognitive science gaining ground in U.S. academic religion studies

Reuters: God on the brain at Penn’s Neuroscience Boot Camp

Reuters: Is a moral instinct the source of our noble thoughts?

Bloggin' from Boot Camp:
Day One
, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, Day Seven, Day Eight, Day Nine

Boot Camp Photo Galleries:


Stay Connected  facebooklinkedinTwitter

Boot Camp Mailing List

If you would like to be updated on upcoming Boot Camp news, please join our mailing list.

Anti-Spam: What is 1 + 2?


"The Penn Neuroscience Boot Camp was a fantastic crash course on the human brain. The instructors were first-rate. Just as enjoyable as the lectures and lab tours was the chance to get to know the other participants. As a science policy professional, it's amazing how many ways I've been able to use what I learned."
Erin Heath, M.Sc.
Office of Government Relations, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

"The Penn Neuroscience Boot Camp provides a well-planned and accessible introductory curriculum, delivered by a team of terrifically engaging speakers. Short of enrolling in a full-time neuroscience program, this is the best available immersion. So people wanting to learn the basics about neuroscience, and why it is so significantly affecting so many disciplines (including law), should take this course."
Owen D. Jones, J.D.
Director, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience; Prof. of Law & Prof. of Biological Sciences at Vanderbilt University

"It was an outstanding experience in every way. The lectures were consistently excellent and the field visits were highly informative. My fellow "students" were diverse, engaged, intelligent and interesting, with an extraordinary range of professional accomplishments."
Tamar Szabo Gendler, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Philosophy,
Yale University

"I cannot imagine a better highlight tour of brain research today for curious journalists than the Penn Neuroscience Boot Camp. It activated my amygdala, tuned up my temporal sulcus and buffed up my Broca's area. My hippocampus still sings at the memory."
Mark Roth
Senior staff writer,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“I learned more in the ten days of the Neuroscience Bootcamp than in ten years of studying neuroscience on my own.  Twist the arm of every administrator you know to get them to help you fund your attendance at this short course.  It will launch you into an unbelievably well-organized and understandable wealth of information—and vastly improve your research!”
Barbara A. Oakley, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Engineering,
Oakland University in Michigan

"As someone who communicates regularly about neuroscience to a variety of public audiences, it was a pleasure to spend time at the “bench” and observe close-up how neuroscientists conduct their work. The combination of hands-on learning and strong presentations from leading scientists made for a great educational experience."
Todd Bentsen
Director, Public Information & Outreach,
Society for Neuroscience

"The presenters were uniformly excellent, and the program made a big effort to give us lab tours to see neuroscientific tools in action. Most of all, I value the friendships and contacts I made -- there are half a dozen people with whom I still talk a year and a half later. This is a rewarding program for anyone who needs to know more about neuroscience for their professional lives."
Michael Chorost, Ph.D.
Freelance science writer

"I cannot imagine a better way to improve my understanding of neuroscience and am eager to bring my new knowledge to bear on my scholarship in law and the medical humanities."
Stacey Tovino, J.D., Ph.D.
Director, Health Law and Policy Center Drake University Law School

“A neuroscientist, a theologian, and a diplomat walk into a bar...  The beginning of a joke for some but not if you're at Boot Camp!  Thanks for an incredible two weeks of engaging faculty, diverse participants, and in-depth learning.”
Jennifer Hoffman
Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State

"The Summer Institute is a perfect way for a bioethics scholar to get a grounding in neuroscience. The curriculum is well-structured, the instructors are thoughtful and attentive, and the other attendees --who come from a wide variety of backgrounds--are the icing on the cake!"
Jonathan H. Marks, M.A., B.C.L.
Associate Professor of Bioethics, Humanities and Law,
Penn State
Director, Bioethics and Medical Humanities Program,
University Park

"Neuroscience boot camp was fabulous. I got a basic overview of the field from first-rate researchers who also happen to be superb teachers.  They were as open to answering basic questions about the science as they were eager to engage the larger philosophical and legal questions that brought many of us to camp. Spending time with a bunch of curious professionals who wanted to learn about a field other than their own was just really, really fun."
Erik Parens, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scholar,
The Hastings Center

“I wanted to get a truly rigorous introduction to neuroscience, even though I don't have a science background. I got what I needed, and much more. I highly recommend this learning experience.”
Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology,
City University of New York

"The lecturers were outstanding, and they presented basic concepts of neuroscience in ways accessible to non-scientists.  In addition, informal discussions with an incredible array of expert attendees refined my understanding of neuroscience and its many applications in sociology, public policy, ethics, law, and other disciplines."
Kris Rusch
Science writer

“I am able to bring a new depth of knowledge and different perspective to my research as a philosopher of mind. It was also invaluable to my work as the director of an interdisciplinary cognitive science program, and has energized my work with undergraduate students working in many disciplines who are interested in exploring the intersections of neuroscience with other fields and broader questions.”
Laura Sizer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy,
Hampshire College

“What I learned over the course of the ten days at Penn has made me look at my research in entirely new ways. The boot camp was an incredibly stimulating experience.”
Patrick Sharkey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology,
New York University