Thank you for considering applying to the Department of Biology’s graduate program. Below you can find information on:

Students applying to the PhD program are required to have a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. A master's degree is not required. Transfer students are considered for admission using the same criteria.

Top ↑

Application Materials

We request that students apply to the department rather than to individual laboratories. The department seeks students who have a strong commitment to field or laboratory research in fundamental areas of biology.

Applicants are required to submit:

  • An online application
  • A diversity statement
    • Your diversity statement should be no more than 500 words and discuss your background, lived experiences, or viewpoint(s) that speak on how you can contribute to your intended field of study, your community, or the University of Rochester and its motto "Meliora" (which means "ever-better").
  • A personal statement
    • Your statement of purpose should address three general areas of information:
      • A summary of your background and why you want to pursue a graduate degree. This is your opportunity to explain your general goals for graduate school and what you’ll bring to the program.
      • A summary of your previous research experience, if applicable. Briefly state the aim(s) of your project(s). Spend the bulk of your narrative explaining why the project was interesting, what you learned about being a scientist from that experience, and why it helped prepare you for graduate school. If you were an author on a publication, please tell us about your specific contributions to that publication.
      • A summary of your future research interests. Explain what general area of research you’d like to pursue and why you want to pursue it. Tell us why you chose the University of Rochester for graduate school, and name faculty in the program with whom you’d potentially like to work.

Please be concise; limit your statement of purpose to about two pages.

  • College transcripts (for all schools attended). We accept unofficial transcripts for the review process.
  • Scores on the TOEFL or IELTS, if applicable. We accept the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, Duolingo English Test.
  • Three letters of recommendation (letters must be on letterhead and must be submitted online by the recommender)
  • Optional: Scores on the GRE
All supporting documents must be submitted by using the online application system

Please contact Patricia DiGiorgio at to check the status of your application.

Top ↑

Standardized Tests

As noted above, the GRE general test is optional.  Our department does not require a minimum score for the GRE general exam. The GRE subject test in biology is also optional.  The University GRE code is 2928. 

International students are required to take the TOEFL, IELTS exam, or Duolingo English Test. The University TOEFL code is 2928.

Top ↑

Application Deadline

The deadline for complete applications is December 1 for fall admission. We do not admit students in the spring semester.

Top ↑

Application Fee

There is a $70 application fee. If this fee would cause financial hardship, please send an email to and request a fee waiver. All requests will be approved. Please include your application number when requesting a fee waiver.

The $70 fee will automatically be waived for applications submitted by November 1.

Top ↑

International Students

We welcome applications from international students. International applicants will be reviewed without prejudice and are eligible for the same internal funding opportunities as US citizens. The University of Rochester’s International Services Office will assist accepted students with obtaining the appropriate immigration documentation.

Top ↑


Once PhD applications have been screened, candidates are invited to visit the campus for:

  • One-on-one faculty interviews
  • Meet-and-greets with graduate students
  • Tours of the facilities
  • Sojourns into the city

The department covers these expenses. International students who reside outside of the U.S. are not interviewed in person, but may be interviewed by Skype, Zoom, or telephone.

Top ↑

Financial Support

All PhD students admitted to the program are offered a competitive annual stipend (research or teaching assistantship), Aetna health insurance, and a full tuition scholarship. Support is guaranteed for five years subject to satisfactory progress toward the degree. Travel funds are available to PhD students who give a talk or present a poster at a national or international conference. The department also awards Caspari and Holtfreter Fellowships.

We also encourage students to apply for outside funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and private agencies. Obtaining funding from outside sources brings distinction both to the student and the department. Admission to the program is never contingent on students securing their own funds. Please see the fellowship policy PDF for more information.

The department does not offer financial support to master's students. Students may apply for financial aid through the University Financial Aid Office.

Top ↑



If you have questions or would like more information about our graduate program, please contact us.

Apply Now!

Top ↑