Application FAQs

General Pre-Application Questions
  • What is the deadline for the application?  For Autumn Quarter admission, the application deadline for all materials, including supplementary and letters of recommendation, is December 1 for all programs.
  • What is the deadline for submitting my supplemental materials?  All supplemental materials are due by December 1.  Transcripts are to be uploaded to the field provided. Letters of recommendation are due from your recommender by December 1.
  • Am I am eligible to apply?  Any student meeting our basic requirements is welcome to apply. Your application will be reviewed during our review process along with all the applicants.  You may also contact individual programs regarding your eligibility.
  • May I contact a counselor before applying?  If you are seeking advice or wish to make a visit before applying to our programs, please contact the individual program.
  • May I speak with a faculty member before applying?  We encourage you to seek information and advice from any of our programs or their faculty members.
  • I will be in Chicago on a certain date. May I arrange to meet with a program representative or get a tour of the campus?  If you are seeking a visit before applying to our programs, please contact the individual program. You may also sign up for a tour of campus here.
  • If I will not receive my degree until May or June of the application year, am I still eligible to apply?  Yes, applicants to the University of Chicago's graduate and professional programs are expected to have completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS) or equivalent degree from an accredited college or university by the time they matriculate.
  • Do you accept three year degrees?  Applicants to the University of Chicago's graduate and professional programs are expected to have completed a BA/BS or equivalent from an accredited college or university. Applicants from a three-year bachelor's program will be given due consideration.
  • What types of degrees do you offer?  Our programs all lead to the PhD, with the exception of Public Health Sciences, which offers a Masters (MS) degree for clinical professionals in addition to the PhD program. We also offer combined MD/PhD degrees through the ISTP Program.
  • Do you offer a masters degree program?  With the exception of Public Health Sciences, which offers a MS degree for clinical professionals, all of our programs are PhD.
  • Are international students welcome in your program?  International applicants are welcome. Our financial package is available to all students.
  • Can you evaluate my credentials?  Because of the volume of applications and requests for status updates we receive, we are not able to evaluate individual credentials or resumes.
  • What is the average GPA of accepted applicants?  The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs does not release information regarding the number of applicants, number of students accepted, number of international applicants or any other statistic pertaining to our applicants; however, some programs may share statistics for their individual programs.
  • What is the average time to degree?  The average time to degree is 5.5 years; however, that it is an average and depending on the student’s project the time to degree may be more or less.
  • Due to extenuating circumstances, I have had a bad semester at school during my academic enrollment. Will that affect my overall chances?  Applications are reviewed as a whole. The admissions committee takes into consideration not only the GPA and GRE scores, but the entire application package including letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and, especially, academic and research background.
Program Selection

What types of degrees do you offer?  Our programs lead to the PhD, with the exception of Public Health Sciences, which offers a Masters degree for clinical professionals in addition to the PhD. We also offer combined MD/PhD degrees.

What programs do you offer?  The Biological Sciences Division offers a total of 19 PhD-granting programs organized into four umbrella organizations (program clusters):

  • Molecular Biosciences: for research in the areas of biochemistry, genetics, human genetics, cell and developmental biology.
  • Darwinian Sciences: for research in the areas of ecological, integrative and evolutionary biology.
  • Biomedical Sciences: for research in the areas of cancer biology, molecular metabolism, immunology, pathology, and microbiology.
  • Neuroscience: for research in the areas of neurobiology and computational neuroscience.

In addition, three degree-granting units provide separate admission: Public Health SciencesBiophysics and Medical Physics.

May I apply to more than one program?  Yes, but select no more than four programs, in no more than two clusters. Please narrow your choice to the program(s) that most closely align with your research interests.

Only one application may be submitted to the Biological Sciences Division.

Does it matter in what order I list the programs I am interested in?  Yes, the programs will consider you in the order they are listed. Please be sure to list the program you are most interested in first.

Where should I apply if my interests are broader than individual programs?  You may apply to up to four programs. Please list your top preference first.

Do I send multiple sets of supplemental materials for each program?  No, since all materials are received electronically, you need only upload one set of documents for your application even if you apply to more than one program within the Biological Sciences.

Requirements

What are the basic requirements for applying to the Graduate Programs in the Biological Sciences Division of the University of Chicago?

  • All applicants for graduate study in the Biological Sciences Division must hold a BA/BS, or the equivalent, from a college or university of recognized standing.
  • Applicants to all programs are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).  **The results of the GRE are valid for 5 years.  GRE Subject scores are optional for all programs.
  • The Public Health Sciences Masters Program requires an MD, DO, or nursing PhD from an accredited institution, or must have completed pre-clinical training at an accredited medical school.  The GRE is waived.
  • Test of English Proficiency (if required)

How can I make my application more competitive?

  • Evidence of a sound background in the candidate's intended field of study is important, as well as academic credentials suggesting that the applicant has the ability to successfully pursue advanced study and research.
  • Previous research experience is considered a strong asset.
  • Your candidate statement should discuss your academic and career objectives. Be specific about the field in which you plan to study and your particular research interests. Discuss previous research projects in which you have participated, and how these experiences have prepared you for your future studies. Beyond what is apparent from your transcripts, describe any additional preparation for your proposed research area, including quantitative and computational training if appropriate.

What supplemental materials are required?

  • An application is considered complete with 3 letters of recommendation, unofficial transcripts (displaying the seal of the degree granting institution) from each degree-granting institution, candidate statement, official GRE scores and, if required, official TOEFL scores.
  • If using a recommendation letter service such as Interfolio, the service must include the ability to upload each letter individually to the unique link provided. We cannot accept a single upload containing all of your letters.

What are the requirements for the unofficial transcript?

  • We require an unofficial transcript that displays the seal of the degree granting institution. The most reliable way to obtain this is to visit the registrars office to obtain an unofficial copy (scan and upload to your application). If you can download a transcript showing the university seal from the academic information system of the school, that is also acceptible.

What are the requirements for the candidate statement?

  • Please discuss your academic and career objectives. Be specific about the field in which you plan to study and your particular research interests. Discuss previous research projects in which you have participated, and how these experiences have prepared you for your future studies. Beyond what is apparent from your transcripts, describe any additional preparation for your proposed research area, including quantitative and computational training if appropriate. Your statement is an important part of your application. It should be clear, concise, and well-crafted.
Test Scores FAQ

Is the GRE Test Required?

  • The GRE test is required for all applications except to the Public Health Sciences MS program. Please send results to institution code 1832. No department code is necessary.
  • GRE test results are valid for 5 years based on the December 1 application deadline.  Therefore, for example, if an applicant wishes to begin graduate study in Autumn 2018 (application deadline December 1, 2017), the applicant must have taken the GRE on or after December 1, 2012.
  • Subject tests are optional for all programs.

Is the GRE Subject test required?  No, GRE Subject scores are optional for all programs.

What is the minimum or average score of the GRE that is required?  The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs does not release information regarding the number of applicants, number of students accepted, number of international applicants or any other statistic pertaining to our applicants; however, some programs may share statistics for their individual programs.

I’ve taken the MCAT. Do I have to take the GRE test?  Official GRE scores are required for all PhD applicants.  Public Health Sciences MS applicants are required to enter either their GRE or MCAT scores.

If I am scheduled to take the GRE after the application deadline, can I still apply?  GRE scores can take up to a month after the test date to arrive, so please plan accordingly when scheduling to take the GRE.

How many years are the GRE scores valid?  GRE test results are valid for 5 years based on the December 1, 2017 application deadline.  Therefore, the test date must have occurred December 1, 2012 or later.

May I waive the English language proficiency requirement?

  • The English Language Proficiency requirement may be waived if the applicant studied in full-time status for at least one academic year (within the last five years) in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and English-medium universities in Canada and South Africa.
  • Students who studied in English, for example, in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, other African countries, etc. are not exempt from the English Language Proficiency requirement.

I received my degree from an English speaking country. May I waive the English language proficiency requirement?

  • The English language proficiency requirement may be waived if the applicant studied on full-time status for at least one academic year (within the last five years) in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and English medium universities in Canada and South Africa.
  • Students who studied in English - for example, in India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, other African countries, etc. - are not exempt from the English Language Proficiency requirement.

I completed a course in English and/or I have a document to certify my English language proficiency. May I waive the language testing requirement?

  • This does not waive the requirement.
  • The English language proficiency requirement may be waived if the applicant studied on full-time status for at least one academic year (within the last five years) in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and English medium universities in Canada and South Africa.

What English language proficiency tests do you accept?  We accept both of the following tests (only 1 score submission is required):

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum score for admission to the BSD is 104 overall with subscores of 26 each.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) - Please note: only the Academic Reading/Writing test, not the General Training Reading/Writing test, is acceptable. The minimum score for admission to the BSD is 7 overall with subscores of 7 each.

How many years are the TOEFL and/or IELTS valid?  TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years based on the December 1, 2017 application deadline.  Therefore, the test date must have occurred December 1, 2015 or later.

Application Status Questions

How do I know if my application is complete?  You can login to the online application to monitor the receipt of your test scores and letters of recommendation. Please note: uploaded materials such as transcripts, personal statements, and CVs will not appear in your online application pdf.

I am worried because my GRE scores have not been checked in yet.  Scores sent via ETS to institution code 1832 will be automatically matched to your application. Sometimes this can take a few days, so monitor your materials by logging back into your application. The application and supplemental materials deadline is December 1.

I have submitted my application. What is its current status?
You can check the status of your application by logging into the application site: https://apply-bsd.uchicago.edu/account/login.  Click on the link to your application at the bottom of the screen, then select "application status" to find current information.

How will I be notified?  You will receive an email when a decision has been made on your notification.  Please adjust your spam settings to ensure you are receiving email from our system (bsdadmissions@uchicago.edu), and be sure to enter a contact email that you use regularly.

Who reviews my application?  Applications are reviewed by the admissions committees of the program(s) to which you applied. See the admissions timeline.

I haven’t heard anything yet about an interview. Does that mean I probably will not be accepted?  Applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committees of the program(s) to which you applied. Until you receive a decision from the program, you are still under consideration. See the admissions timeline.

Financial Assistance Questions

What does the financial aid package include?  The BSD financial aid package provides a stipend (2017-18: $31,112/year), your full tuition costs and health insurance fees. A one-time $750 relocation reimbursement is included in the Autumn Quarter stipend.

How long will financial aid be extended? The commitment of support extends for the first five years and is reviewed on an annual basis for cost of living and other possible increases. Support for each year beyond the first year is contingent upon your satisfactory degree progress, as determined by your degree-granting unit and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.  Every effort is made beyond the fifth year to provide financial assistance until the completion of the degree.

Can my application fee be waived?

  • Under the university rules, applications must be accompanied by the appropriate application fee. Failure to send the fee may result in serious delay in the review of your application. It is not a policy of the Biological Sciences Division to grant fee waivers, but documented cases of substantial financial hardship for domestic applicants will be examined on an individual basis.
  • Under university policy, fee waivers are not granted to international students.
  • Fee waivers are granted to participants in the following programs:
    • University of Chicago students or alumni from degree-granting programs
    • Post-baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) students
    • CIC applicants
    • Project 1000
    • Leadership Alliance
    • Ronald E. McNair Scholars
    • Bill and Melinda Gates Millenium Scholars
    • Go here to submit a fee waiver application:  https://apply-bsd.uchicago.edu/register/feewaiverrequest
Transfer Student FAQ

Do you accept Transfer students?

  • Transfer students are accepted and follow the same application procedures as new applicants.
  • To be considered for transfer, students must have a valid reason for the move and must provide a letter of recommendation from an appropriate faculty member from their current institution.  If the student is accepted for transfer, the degree-granting unit in which he or she matriculates will decide whether the student can matriculate with advanced standing.
Questions on Reapplying

May I resubmit my application from last year?  Yes. You may request to have last year's application reactivated by emailing bsdadmissions@uchicago.edu

May I have my supporting documents from last year’s application used for a new application?  Yes.

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