When does the application become available?
Applications for the upcoming fall admissions period become available in early September each year.
What are the application deadlines?
Application deadlines for Fall 2018 admission are December 7th, 2017 for the PhD program and January 15th, 2018 for the MA program.
Do you accept international students?
Yes – we welcome applications from all over the world.
What are the application requirements?
- Three recommendations – We consider letters of recommendation, particularly those from individuals who can address your research experience and aptitude, a very important part of your application.
- Personal statement/statement of purpose – A thoughtful personal statement is important and should include information on your motivation for attending graduate school, any research interests you have, and your prior research experience.
- Curriculum Vitae
- Official GRE General Test score report
- GRE Subject Test [Recommended]: Depending on the proposed program area, the Subject Test in Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (discontinued, although scores up to 2016 can be submitted) would be appropriate.
- Additional requirements for international students – Information for international students on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and other requirements is available on the GRS Academic Admissions page and on the International Student Applicant page.
Are there minimum scores for the GRE and/or a minimum GPA for admission?
The Biology Department does not have a minimum GRE score or minimum GPA for admission. We consider the full application when reviewing applicants.
Are there minimum scores for the TOEFL or IELTS?
Yes, the minimum scores are strictly enforced by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Your most recent test scores will be used to determine if you have met the English proficiency requirements. You cannot combine sections from different test dates and you must meet the minimum score for every section of the test to be considered for admission. The minimum score requirements for the TOEFL are below.
paper-based test: 550
Reading section – 21
Listening section – 21
Speaking section – 21
Writing section – 21
In addition to the TOEFL, the IELTS is also accepted as proof of English proficiency. The band score of 7.0 is required for admission.
Do I have to submit all of the required documents by the application deadline?
All applications must be complete by the deadline; any application materials received after the deadline may not be reviewed by the department.
It is past the application deadline. Can I still apply?
- PhD applicants – Generally, we do not accept applications for submission after the deadline has passed.
- MA applicants – For full consideration, applications must be received by January 15. Late applications may also be considered if space in the cohort permits.
Please contact Christina Honeycutt at email@example.com to find out if your application can still be submitted.
Do you offer spring admission?
Generally, the department does not accept new students for the spring semester, although in special circumstances this may be arranged for students in Ecology, Behavior & Evolution (EBE).
Are there any pre-requisites or any courses that I should take before applying? What kind of degree(s) do I need to have?
Applicants to the MA or PhD programs must have completed a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. While a degree in biology is not required, it is suggested that you at least have completed biology and chemistry courses before applying. Statistics would also be useful. Depending on your specific interests and the program to which you are applying, the most relevant courses will vary. Prior research experience will also make your application more competitive.
Some BU courses may be available for non-degree students if you would like to take courses before applying. Please contact Christina Honeycutt (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
A Master’s Degree is not needed to apply to our PhD program. Students who apply with a Master’s Degree may have an opportunity to transfer credits towards the program. Admission into the program is competitive and we favor applications with both strong academic records and a demonstrated aptitude for research.
Do I need to contact faculty prior to submitting my application?
Yes, it is recommended that you contact one or more faculty with whom you might wish to work. This is essential for students interested in the Ecology, Behavior & Evolution and Marine Biology program areas, in which applicants are typically admitted to work specifically with one or more faculty members. The Cell & Molecular Biology and Neurobiology program areas require laboratory rotations during which students can explore their interests, but it is often useful to contact a faculty member. We do not provide a list of faculty members who are currently seeking graduate students.
Where can I find more information about the research opportunities that are available to Biology graduate students?
Do I need to submit more than one application if I want to be considered for more than one area of interest within Biology?
No – you can list more than one area of interest on your application. You do not need to submit multiple applications.
Can I schedule a visit to the BU campus?
Yes, prospective applicants can contact the Graduate Program Specialist, Christina Honeycutt, or any faculty member with whom you may wish to work, to schedule a time to visit. The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences does not offer tours of the campus however, prospective students can sign-up for tours with undergraduate admissions.
How long will it take before I receive a decision on my applications?
Cell & Molecular (CM) and Neurobiology applicants: Selected applicants currently in the continental US will be invited to visit the campus for “Recruitment Weekend” in late February for individual interviews with faculty and to learn more about Boston University, the surrounding area, and to meet with many of the faculty and current students within the department. Admission decisions are usually sent out the week following this visit to campus (early March). Selected applicants outside the continental US and internationally may be contacted in early March for Skype Interviews with faculty members and can expect to receive admission decisions in mid-March.
Ecology, Behavior & Evolution (EBE) and Marine Biology applicants: Individual faculty often schedule Skype interviews as the next step after reviewing applications, or based on initial email communication. Selected applicants will be invited to visit the campus individually, on dates that are convenient for their prospective advisors. Most prospective students visit during January and February; some may visit in December or March. Admission decisions are sent on a rolling basis, generally after the last applicant seeking entry to a particular lab has visited.
What is the cost of attendance? Do you offer financial aid?
Tuition and mandatory fees for the current academic year can be found on the GRS website.
The Biology Department guarantees academic year support for five years for all PhD students, contingent on satisfactory performance in the program. This includes tuition, a stipend, and health insurance. You can learn more about the different fellowships that are offered on the GRS website.
The Biology Department does not guarantee financial support for MA students. Some resources are available on the GRS website for MA students seeking financial aid.
How long does it take to earn a graduate degree in Biology
MA students must complete the degree within three years though most of our students complete this within 2 years. PhD students must complete the degree within seven years though most of our students complete this within 5-6 years.
How many credits can be transferred in towards my degree? Will this shorten the time to degree?
MA students can transfer a maximum of 8 credits from other universities. PhD students can transfer a maximum of 32 credits. Your coursework would be reviewed by faculty to determine what is appropriate to transfer based on the program and what credits you would still need to take moving forward. This could certainly decrease the time to degree but PhD and MA-Research students would still need to complete research credits and the length of time for completion can be different depending on the research projects that you take on and the progress of your dissertation/thesis. More information about the transfer of credit policy can be found online: http://www.bu.edu/academics/grs/policies/transfer-of-credits/
What classes will I need to take?
Will I be required to teach?
The department requires a minimum of two semesters of teaching during a student’s graduate career as part of the PhD program. During the first semester of teaching, students are required to enroll in our first-year seminar course, GRS BI 697 A Bridge to Knowledge. The course provides guidance and training on pedagogy and other aspects of graduate school.
MA students are not required to teach but there are sometimes opportunities for MA students to teach if interested.
Can I take classes part time?
It is possible to take classes part time if you are in the Master’s Program or if you want to take a class or two before officially enrolling in the program. However, we do not offer evening courses, so if you have a full time job and are interested in taking one or two courses, this may not be a good fit for you. The PhD Program is a full time program.