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College of the Sciences

Biological Sciences Graduate Program FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  What is the most important part of the application?

A:  Applications are reviewed holistically, carefully considering all of the submitted materials. 

Q:  Who should write my recommendation letters?

A:   Letters of recommendation should be written by someone familiar with your previous academic work; ideally, this would be professors from your undergraduate major field of study. If you are a returning student who has been out of school for some time, we suggest seeking references from employers, supervisors, or other professionals who can comment on your background, experiences, work ethic, ability to overcome substantial challenges, and motivation.  Friends, family members, and fellow students are not appropriate choices.

Q:  What are the minimum GRE scores required for admission?

A:  We do not have set requirements for GRE scores.  We review the entire application file to assess potential for success in graduate school; for example, higher test scores may compensate for a lower GPA and vice versa.

Q:  Will my application be considered if I haven’t taken my GRE yet?

A:  Your application must be complete before the School of Graduate Studies and Research will forward it to the Biology Department for review.  However, if all other components of your application have been submitted and you have a plan for taking the GRE soon you should notify your prospective faculty advisor.

Q:  How do I seek a faculty advisor for my program?

A:  Look through the list of graduate faculty members for those professors whose research interests and activities inspire you.  E-mail them to inquire whether they are accepting new students, and provide them with information about your background, reasons for seeking a M.S. degree, and research interests.  Most faculty members are inundated with emails, so if you do not hear back, a follow-up email or phone call is advisable.  The Graduate Program Coordinator can also help direct prospective students to potential faculty advisors. 

Q:  When and how do I know if I’ve been accepted?

A:  Once the application is complete, the School of Graduate Studies and Research will conduct a preliminary review of all submitted materials. If the minimum admission requirements have been met, your application will then be forwarded for departmental review. Applicants are notified of all admission decisions via email, followed by an official letter from the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

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