Application Procedure

Application Procedure

The Department of Biology welcomes graduate applications from individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. An applicant must be accepted by a prospective Major Advisor (who will become their Thesis or Dissertation Director) before admission into the Biology Graduate Program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Biology faculty who could potentially serve as their Major Advisor before submitting an application. Information on the research areas of departmental faculty is available online.

Applicants to the graduate program in the Department of Biology should have a strong background in the biological sciences including coursework in general biology, genetics, ecology or physiology, chemistry, and mathematics. However, applicants missing coursework in one or more of these areas may be admitted conditionally (for example, on the condition that they take a course in genetics during their first semester of enrollment).

Review of applicants for Fall admission typically begins February 1st and applicants are encouraged to have all materials submitted by that date. Applications for Spring admissions are reviewed on a case by case basis.

Applicants must submit online to the Graduate School all of the following:

  • An application.
  • A statement of purpose that describes their research interests and experience, career goals, and interest in our graduate program (applicants are encouraged to have their prospective Major Advisor review this document before submission)
  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably from individuals who can comment on the applicant’s research experience and/or potential for conducting research in the life sciences.
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work.
  • Official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test.

International applicants must also submit English language proficiency test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE-A) as per University policy.

The prospective Major Advisor is responsible for placing a letter of support in the applicant’s file, describing why the applicant should be admitted into the program, how the applicant’s research will relate to that of the Major Advisor’s current laboratory/research group, and expectations for the applicant’s success in the Graduate Program.

In addition to having a prospective Major Advisor, applicants are only admitted if there is evidence of financial support for their graduate studies. This can be provided in the form of departmental graduate assistantships, which are awarded on a competitive basis and include a tuition waiver, subsidized health insurance, and stipend support. All components of the application (statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, letter of support from Major Advisor, GPA, GRE scores) are used by the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) to determine eligibility for assistantships. These assistantships are competitive and the Department of Biology recommends that applicants have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale), a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of 300, and/or a strong research background to qualify. Applicants may also be eligible for additional fellowships and scholarships that are available through the Graduate School. To be eligible for a teaching assistantship, international students must have acceptable results of the TSE or the SPEAK tests of spoken English and an interview with either the Graduate Program Coordinator or the Chair of the Department of Biology.

Admission into the Biology graduate program is based on the recommendation of the GSC who will assess all of these materials (statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, undergraduate and prior graduate GPA, and the letter of support from the prospective Major Advisor) and make a recommendation to the Chair of the Department of Biology.