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Welcome to the Biology PhD Frequently Asked Questions

The Biology PhD students have taken the time to answer some of your most pressing questions about applying to graduate school. Please visit the BioPHilmD YouTube channel or browse the individual video links at the bottom of this page.

2021 Biology Faculty Lightning Talks

The following video was recorded at the Pursuing a PhD in Biology event.


I don’t have a BS in Biology.  Can I still apply?
Yes, you may apply – a BS in Biology is not a prerequisite for our program, though we do require that you have the equivalent of a US bachelor's degree.  Should you be accepted, your First Year Adviser may have you take additional classes  to ensure your foundational knowledge is consistent with the expectations of our program.

Do I need a Masters degree to apply to the PhD program?
No, you do not need a masters degree. Many of our students do not have masters degrees.

Do you require that I take the GRE?
No, we no longer accept GRE scores. In fairness to all applicants, we will not review the scores of this test if you choose to submit them, and we request that applicants refrain from submitting their scores to the Graduate School if possible.

What is your minimum GPA requirement? 
The Biology department does not impose any requirements beyond those of the Graduate School, which is a 3.0 GPA. However, if an applicant is deemed admissible by the admissions committee, a petition could be submitted to waive the minimum GPA requirement. 

Can the TOEFL be waived for International applicants who received instruction in English at previous institutions? 
The UW Graduate School allows for several ways for applicants to demonstrate proficiency in English. Please see the requirements in Memo 8: To request a TOEFL waiver, please contact the Graduate School at

When is the application due?  When will I find out if I’m accepted?
Applications are due on December 1.  We only enroll new students in the Autumn Quarter of each year.  Should the faculty find your qualifications a match for our program, you will be invited to an interview weekend in January-February.  Admissions decisions are made by early March.

What does your application require?
There are six application materials required: unofficial transcripts, CV, Holistic Statement (2 pages), contact information for 3 references, list of 3 faculty of interest, and TOEFL scores (optional). The application fee is $85.

Should applicants have a funding plan aligned before applying?
No, we do not expect applicants to bring their own external funding to our program.

Do you offer application fee waivers?
Application fee waivers are available only through the UW Graduate School. More information can be found here: 

How do I apply?
Please apply online through the UW Graduate School:

How much does your program cost?
Our department values your research and scholarship, and will ensure you are funded (tuition, stipend, insurance) for the first five years of your studies through a variety of assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships.  You are responsible for student fees (around $265 per quarter), in addition to any additional fees incurred.

Do you offer a Master in Science degree?
No, we do not offer a MS program.

May I apply to other graduate programs at the UW at the same time?
Yes, you may apply to as many other programs as you would like.

Should I contact faculty before I apply?
Yes!  Contacting faculty before you apply demonstrates your interest in their research, and helps you determine whether their lab/the UW’s program is a good fit for your research interests.

Where can I learn about what the faculty are researching?
You can visit our Faculty Research Directory.  Each faculty member has a brief outline of their research interests in their profile.

Do you have any required courses?
Yes, there are minimal required courses. See our Program Requirements for more information on class selection.

Is teaching required in your program?
Yes, each PhD student is required to hold a Teaching Assistant appointment for at least two quarters during their academic career.

Do you offer lab rotations for new students?
Yes, students must complete 3-4 rotations in their first year.  For more information on this, please see our Lab Assignment/Rotations page.

Do you accept international students every year?
Yes, as we evaluate all of our applicants based on their academic merits and research interests.

Do you have additional questions?
Contact the Graduate Program Manager at

Video Links:


Date last changed Oct 3rd, 2023 @ 16:15:12 PDT