FAQs About the Biological Sciences Graduate Degree Program
- How do I apply to the Biological Sciences Program and select a Concentration Area?
- When is the deadline for applications?
- May I apply to the Biological Sciences Ph.D. program directly out of college or a work experience, or do I need to have a Master’s degree to be considered?
- Does the Biological Sciences program offer a Masters degree?
- What about GREs? Is the subject test in Biology required?
- How does admissions work for international students What are the minimum scores required for the TOEFL or IELTS exams??
- Do all admitted students, including international students, receive financial support?
- How do I apply for a fellowship?
- I’m not sure exactly where I want to specialize within biology. May I switch Concentration Areas within BISI after I begin the program?
- I'm interested in BEES, the Concentration Area where most students do not do exploratory lab rotations during their first year. Should I contact faculty members whose research areas interest me and whose labs I might like to join?
- Does the Biological Sciences program interview applicants or sponsor visits to campus?
- When will BISI admissions decisions be announced?
- How do I check the status of my application?
- Where do I send my transcripts?
Students apply to the Biological Sciences Program (BISI) by completing an application to the University of Maryland’s Graduate School. On the supplemental form, indicate the BISI Concentration Area that most interests you (you may select up to 2). You may investigate participating BISI faculty and their research interests via the Biological Sciences (BISI home page. Note the question “May I change Concentration Areas….?” In this FAQ list… link – the short answer is yes!) The application deadline for admission in Fall is December 15.
See How to Apply for a list of all of the elements of the BISI application.
When is the deadline for applications?
You must submit your application by December 15 to be considered for admission in the Fall. We do not accept applications for spring admissions. See How to Apply for a list of all of the elements of the BISI application.
May I apply to the Biological Sciences Ph.D. program directly out of college or a work experience, or do I need to have a Master’s degree to be considered?
Absolutely apply! We accept students directly into the Ph.D. program whether or not they have already earned a Master’s degree.
Biological Sciences does not admit students seeking a Masters degree. Students working on their Ph.D.s do not earn a Masters along the way, although if a student leaves the Ph.D. program, he/she may be awarded a Masters degree if appropriate requirements have been completed.
The GRE general test is a must; the GRE Subject test is recommended but not required. Remember that it often takes a couple of weeks for GRE results to be sent, so be sure to take the test early enough for official scores to arrive in time for our review. Maryland’s institutional code is for GRE scores is 5814; there is no need to include a department code (just leave the department code entry blank).
The Biological Sciences program welcomes applications from qualified international students. The application process is the same as for U.S. citizens: all applications are submitted through the University of Maryland’s Graduate School. International applicants must pay the same application fee.
Fluency in spoken and written English is evaluated in several ways,including scores on the verbal GRE and the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Students must submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores if English is a second language and the student has not received a degree from an English-speaking institution. The University of Maryland code is 5814; no department code is needed. The TOEFL and IELTS exams must have been taken within the past two years. Maryland’s Graduate School guidelines require a TOEFL score above 100 (internet-based exam) or 575 (paper version) for admission. Minimum sectional scores must be achieved on the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Minimum scores can be found here. International students must also complete a Certification of Finances form.
All Biological Sciences Ph.D. students receive financial assistance for at least five years (assuming satisfactory progress). This support is in the form of fellowships and/or assistantships. Students are expected to complete their Ph.D. within five years. In some cases financial support is extended to a sixth year.
The 12 month stipend for a 2010-2011 first year students is $22,779. Full tuition remission (10 credits each semester) is included but students must pay mandatory fees of approximately $540 each semester. Support includes access to health and dental insurance and a prescription drug plan.
If you submit your application by the December 15 deadline, you will be considered automatically for College and University fellowships.
I’m not sure exactly where I want to specialize within biology. May I switch Concentration Areas within BISI after I begin the program?
Definitely! We understand that a wonderfully exciting aspect of biology is that it has many incredibly fascinating areas, and we recognize that students’ interests may shift as they are introduced to cutting-edge questions in different fields. On your application, check one or two Concentration Area(s) that fit best with your current interests. If you decide to make a lane change after you take more classes and explore new avenues of research, we’ll help you make it happen.
I'm interested in BEES or PSYS, the two Concentration Areas where most students do not do exploratory lab rotations during their first year. Should I contact faculty members whose research areas interest me and whose labs I might like to join?
Absolutely! It is to mutual advantage that you find the right intellectual and personal fit with your Ph.D. advisor, faculty mentors, and their lab groups and colleagues. Professors in BEES and PSYS expect and appreciate contacts from strong potential students, so definitely launch emails to faculty whose research questions and interests match yours. It’s usually best to send a relatively short message (2-3 paragraphs) briefly describing your interests, background, and goals, and attach your resume. It is perfectly appropriate to ask if the professor is interested in taking new students for the coming year. Sometimes a faculty member is about to go on sabbatical or already has a full lab so cannot take another student. Don’t take that personally – just look for other good fits and explore those people as well. Networking and building collegial, collaborative professional relationships is part of being a scientist, and initiating these steps to find faculty mentors who will be good matches for you is a great way to start. Some BEES and PSYS students may choose to explore several labs during their first year, essentially doing "rotations" similar to those in MOCB and CBBG; this can be done on a case-by-case basis.
We’d be delighted to have you visit campus at any time you’re in the Washington D.C. area. We recommend that you contact potential faculty mentors to arrange to talk with them, meet their lab groups, etc. While you’re here, please drop by the Biological Sciences program office (located in the Bioscience Research Building 2101) to say hi, enjoy a cup of coffee, and ask any additional questions!
BISI also hosts visit days for select candidates in February to provide opportunities to hear more details about the program, meet faculty and current students and hear about their research, get a feel for the beautiful University of Maryland campus and lively metropolitan area, tour facilities, and connect with other strong applicants.
Most admissions decisions and funding packages will be released by early March; matriculation decisions are due by April 15th.
You may check your application and document (transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.) status via the Graduate School. You can check your admittance status on Testudo by logging in with your social security number and six digit date of birth. The Graduate School also has a list of Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Students.
Please have your transcripts sent to the following address:
Enrollment Services Office - Graduate Admissions
0130 Mitchell Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742