Welcome to the BISI FAQs page! If you are looking to gain more insight into our program as you are applying, feel free to explore. For more information about the University of Maryland's Graduate School, feel free to take a look at their FAQs page.
How do I apply to the biological sciences program and select a concentration area?
Students apply to the Biological Sciences Program (BISI) by completing an application to the University of Maryland’s Graduate School.
Indicate the BISI Concentration Area that most interests you in Area of Interest 1 within the Educational Intent section of the application.
You should investigate BISI faculty and their research interests via the home page.
The application deadline for admission in fall is December 3. The BISI program does not accept applications for spring semester.
When is the deadline for applications?
Applications must be complete by December 3 (for both domestic and international students) to be considered for admission in the fall. We do not accept applications for spring admissions.
May I apply to the BISI Ph.D. program directly out of college or a work experience, or do I need to have a master’s degree to be considered?
Absolutely apply! We accept students directly into the Ph.D. program whether or not they have already earned a Master’s degree.
Does the BISI program offer a masters degree?
Yes, the Biological Sciences will admit a small cohort of students seeking a Masters degree. Additionally, students working on their Ph.D.s can earn a Masters along the way, as long as all of the requirements have been completed. Students that choose to leave the Ph.D. program may be awarded a Master's degree if appropriate requirements have been completed.
What about GREs? Is the subject test in biology required?
The GRE is no longer required. If you believe your GRE scores contribute to an understanding of your academic profile, you can include score information in your personal essay. However, the program does not require this information for admission.
How does admissions work for international students?
The Biological Sciences program welcomes applications from qualified international students. The application process is the same as for U.S. citizens: all applications are submitted through the University of Maryland’s Graduate School. International applicants must pay the same application fee.
Fluency in spoken and written English is evaluated in several ways, including scores on the verbal GRE and the TOEFL or IELTS exams.
Students must submit either TOEFL or IELTS scores if English is a second language and the student has not received a degree from an English-speaking institution. The University of Maryland code is 5814; no department code is needed.
The TOEFL and IELTS exams must have been taken within the past two years. Maryland’s Graduate School guidelines require a TOEFL score above 100 (internet-based exam) or 575 (paper version) for admission. Minimum sectional scores must be achieved on the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Minimum scores can be found here.
Because we fully support all of our admitted students for 5 years (including stipend, tuition remission, and benefits), international students do not have to complete a Certification of Finances form.
Do all admitted students, including international students, receive financial support?
All Biological Sciences Ph.D. students receive financial assistance for at least five years (assuming satisfactory progress). This support is in the form of fellowships and/or assistantships. Students also receive tuition remission and access to benefits. Students are expected to complete their Ph.D. within five years. In some cases financial support is extended to the sixth year.
How do I apply for a fellowship?
If you submit your application by the December 3 deadline, you will be considered automatically for College and University fellowships.
Should I contact faculty members whose research areas interest me and whose labs I might like to join?
Absolutely! It is to mutual advantage that you find the right intellectual and personal fit with your Ph.D. advisor, faculty mentors, and their lab groups and colleagues. Professors expect and appreciate contacts from strong potential students, so definitely email to faculty whose research questions and interests match yours. It’s usually best to send a relatively short message (2-3 paragraphs) briefly describing your interests, background, and goals, and attach your resume.
It is perfectly appropriate to ask if the professor is interested in taking new students for the coming year. Sometimes a faculty member is about to go on sabbatical or already has a full lab so cannot take another student. Don’t take that personally – just look for other good fits and explore those people as well. Networking and building collegial, collaborative professional relationships is part of being a scientist, and initiating these steps to find faculty mentors who will be good matches for you is a great way to start.
Does the BISI program interview applicants or sponsor visits to campus?
We’d be delighted to have you visit campus at any time you’re in the Washington D.C. area. Campus tours can be arranged through the admissions office. We recommend that you contact potential faculty mentors in advance to arrange to talk with them, meet their lab groups, etc.
BISI also hosts visit days for select candidates in February to provide opportunities to hear more details about the program, meet faculty and current students and hear about their research, get a feel for the beautiful University of Maryland campus and lively metropolitan area, tour facilities, and connect with other strong applicants.
When will BISI admissions decisions be announced?
Most admissions decisions and funding packages will be released by early March; matriculation decisions are due by April 15th. If we recommend admission, you will receive an email letter from the program.
How do I check the status of my application?
You can check the status of your application at any time via the application dashboard. It can take 24 to 48 hours for updates to the application to register in the system so don’t worry if your application still says incomplete after your last recommendation or score has been added.
Where do I send my transcripts?
Unofficial transcripts should be uploaded directly into your application. During the application process all transcripts should be uploaded directly into the application portal and none should be sent to the office.
If you are offered admission and decide to matriculate:
A copy of your transcripts showing your conferred degree must be sent directly to the university from your previous institutions. The correct address is (you can also hand carry a sealed copy directly to the Mitchell Building once you arrive on campus)
Enrollment Services Office - Graduate Admissions
0130 Mitchell Building
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
How much are grad students paid?
You can find the most updated stipend information on the assistantships page. These are the minimum amounts a BISI graduate student can be paid. Remember, students on assistantships (teaching or research) earn a stipend, tuition remission up to 10 credits, and access to the employee benefits program (insurance).