You are here: Home Graduate Portal How to Apply

How to Apply

Main Content

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission, an applicant must have a baccalaureate degree in one of the sciences from a regionally accredited institution with a cumulative undergraduate grade-point average of a least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0.

International applicants must hold the equivalent of an American four-year baccalaureate degree and must plan to apply at least four months prior to the beginning of the semester in which they intend to begin graduate studies. International applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The Biology Program requires a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper-based) or 80/20 speaking (iBT). The minimum required composite score for the IELTS is 6.5.

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement who have received a baccalaureate or a master's degree from an institution in any of the following countries: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales. Information about the TOEFL can be obtained by writing to the Educational Testing Service, Box 6155, Princeton, NJ 08541-6155 or by visiting its website at Information about the IELTS can be obtained by contacting IELTS International, 100 East Corson Street, Suite 200, Pasadena CA 91103 or by visiting its website at


How to Apply

Admission to the Biology Graduate Program is granted jointly by the Penn State Graduate School and the Department of Biology. To apply, please complete the following:

  • (Optional) Submit a pre-application form to the Department of Biology.
  • Complete a formal online application through the Penn State Graduate School.
  • Provide the names and contact information for three references. 
  • Upload a personal statement of purpose describing professional interests and career goals.
  • Upload a resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Upload a list of Department of Biology faculty members with whom you are interested in working.
  • Once the online application has been completed, send the following items to PSU Graduate Program in Biology, 208 Mueller Lab, University Park, PA 16802, USA:
Two official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended as an undergraduate or graduate student. Official transcripts transmitted electronically from the issuing institution also are acceptable and should be sent to International applicants must submit official, or attested, university records with certified translations if the records are not in English. Notarized copies are not sufficient.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test scores. Applicants are also encouraged to submit scores for the GRE subject test in biology. Institution code: R2660. Department code: 0203.


Applicants who have difficulty uploading documents to the Graduate School's website or who have recommenders/referees who prefer to send their letters directly to the Department of Biology may send their documents/letters to the address above.

 International applicants also must include the following:

•    Results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Institution code: 2660. Department code: 35. Scores from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) can be submitted in lieu of the TOEFL.

•    (Optional) Test of Spoken English (TSE).

Information regarding application fees is available through the Graduate School. Applicants may apply at any time of year, but applications received by January 31 will be considered for the full range of financial support. Applicants are encouraged to apply by December 31 to be considered in the first rounds of competition for enhanced financial support (University Graduate Fellowships and Braddock Supplements).

Please note that you can only apply to one graduate program at Penn State. For more information, contact: