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Admissions Process

Admission to UCSD's graduate program in Biological Sciences is highly competitive with only 35-40 students joining the doctoral program each year. New students are admitted for Fall quarter only. We welcome applicants with exceptional achievement and diverse backgrounds.

International applicants are particularly encouraged to apply as nearly 30% of the students in our incoming classes are non-U.S. residents.

Application Deadlines for Fall 2014

  • Dec. 4, 2013: Full UCSD application for applicants to the PhD program in Biological Sciences
  • Nov. 1, 2013: TOEFL and Graduate Record Examinations should be taken no later than this date

Test Score Reporting Codes (GRE/TOEFL)

  • GRE: School/Institution Code: 4836 
  • Department Code: 0203  
  • TOEFL: School/Institution Code: 4836 
  • Department Code: 35

Application Information

Applications are evaluated by the Admissions Committee (which is comprised of representatives from both the faculty and graduate students) November through January.

The Admissions Committee evaluates applicants based on their past academic performance. Important factors in the evaluation of an application include:

  • The nature and quality of the applicant's undergraduate degree program
  • Preparation in the physical sciences and mathematics
  • Previous laboratory and/or field research experience
  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Exam

Required Documents

In addition to the application forms, we also require the following documents:

  • A copy of your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test scores*
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • A copy of your most recent academic transcript(s)**

*The general GRE test is required while the subject test is recommended. You must take the GRE early enough to ensure that your test scores will be received in time for review by the Admissions Committee

**To expedite the processing of your application, the Biology Admissions Committee recommends that you upload PDF versions of your official or unofficial transcripts directly into the UCSD online application system. You will find more information on this process once you are in the online application system.

If you are an international student and English is not your native language, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.  The TOEFL/IELTS requirement is waived for international students who have studied or worked for at least 1 continuous year in an English speaking country.

Applications are processed in order of their completion. Screening of applications will begin in late November. We recommended that you submit your application well before the deadline to be considered for on-campus interviews. Typical causes of delayed consideration include missing GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and transcripts.

It is particularly important for foreign applicants to complete their application well before the deadline, as it has been our experience that delays in processing their applications seriously limit the financial aid the applicant can hope to obtain.     

Campus Visits & Interviews     

Selected applicants will be invited to visit the campus and participate in faculty interviews in February. The interviews consist of meetings with both faculty and graduate students, as well as the opportunity to visit the UCSD campus and the surrounding research community.

Based on the results of the interviews, offers of admission will commence in March. All applicants will be notified of the Division's decision no later than March 15. Again, we urge you to complete your application well in advance of the December 4 deadline.

To apply to the doctoral program in Biology, use the UCSD Application for Graduate Admission. UCSD uses a web-based application to apply for graduate study. You may work on your application a bit at a time, and then submit it once it is complete. The site is secure, and your application information and credit card payment will remain confidential.

Contact Information

Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Division of Biological Sciences, 0348
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla CA 92093-0348
(858) 534-8983

Richness through Diversity

We enthusiastically welcome applications from students with culturally diverse backgrounds. We believe that the richness of a graduate program is increased by an ethnically broad student population. Find out about our commitment to diversity.

Our goal is to ensure that all admitted graduate students thrive and succeed in the exciting scientific community of UCSD's Division of Biological Sciences. To this end, our program assists and supports graduate students in a variety of ways.

For example, faculty mentors interact with the incoming students to smooth the transition into graduate school. Also, we work closely with the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS) and other University departments to create and maintain a greater sense of the campus community.

Prospective PhD Students