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 may investigate participating BISI faculty and their research interests via the home page.
The application deadline for admission in fall is December 1. The BISI program does not accept applications for spring semester.
When is the deadline for applications?
Applications must be complete by December 1 (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 general test is a must; the GRE Subject test is recommended but not required. Remember that it often takes a couple of weeks for GRE results to be sent, so be sure to take the test early enough for official scores to arrive in time for our review. (This means for the December 1st deadline we advise taking the test before mid- November.)
If you take the exam late, please send your unofficial score to the Biological Sciences Graduate Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible so that we can upload it into the application while waiting for the official score. Maryland’s institutional code is for GRE scores is 5814; there is no need to include a department code (just leave the department code entry blank). Strong applicants generally have GRE scores in the 70th percentile or above.
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 a sixth year.
How do I apply for a fellowship?
If you submit your application by the December 1 deadline, you will be considered automatically for College and University fellowships.
I'm interested in BEES and PSYS, the two concentration areas where most students do not do exploratory lab rotations during their first year. 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 in BEES and PSYS expect and appreciate contacts from strong potential students, so definitely launch emails 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. Some BEES and PSYS students may choose to explore several labs during their first year, essentially doing "rotations" similar to those in MOCB and CBBG; this can be done on a case-by-case basis.
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. We recommend that you contact potential faculty mentors to arrange to talk with them, meet their lab groups, etc. While you’re here, please drop by the Biological Sciences program office (located in room 1247 in the Biology Psychology Building) to say hi, enjoy a cup of coffee, and ask any additional questions!
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