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Department of Biology
Graduate Program
How to Apply

Admission to our Graduate Program is granted jointly by the Penn State Graduate School and the Department of Biology.

You should also review the Requirements for Graduate Admission before applying.

Steps to Take (Domestic and International Students)

To apply, please complete the following by December 15th of each year for fall admission:

A. Complete a formal online application through the Penn State Graduate School (select Degree Admission). There is an application fee payable to the Graduate School. The Department of Biology uses five essay prompts in lieu of a personal statement.

  1. Provide the names and contact information for three references. We realize that in writing recommendation letters, recommenders often write a generic letter for most programs. If their letter does not already do so, the Department of Biology would like for them to address in a paragraph their thoughts about the potential for the applicant to be a future scientist. In particular, we value their evaluation of the future ability of the applicant to ask strong biological questions, design critical experiments, collect and analyze data, and draw biological conclusions from the data. Do you think that the applicant will be resilient when research difficulties arise? How do you think that the applicant will work as a member of a diverse team to help solve problems? A letter with superlatives is less helpful than a letter that provides facts about the applicant's academic and research experiences.
  2. Upload a resume or curriculum vitae.
  3. Upload a list of the Graduate Faculty with whom you are interested in working.
  4. Upload an official copy of transcripts (university records) from each institution of higher education attended as an undergraduate or graduate student. International transcripts must be submitted in both the original language and in English. Examples of documents that are not acceptable are: advising transcripts or a degree audit from a self-service website.
  5. The Department of Biology no longer evaluates GRE scores for admission to our graduate program.

B. International applicants must also submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) electronically to Penn State. Institution code: 2660.

Scores from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) can be submitted in lieu of the TOEFL. Hard copy scores should be sent directly from the IELTS testing agency to Penn State's Graduate School at the following address:

The Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Enrollment Services
114 Kern Building
University Park, PA  16802

General inquiries may be directed to:

Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Biology
208 Mueller Lab
University Park, 16802   USA
Phone: (814) 863-7034