Application FAQs

The graduate program is built upon a dynamic group of students with diverse academic backgrounds and experiences. Every year the department reviews applications of students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. Promising applicants will be invited for an interview in the Spring Semester.

How do I apply?

The application form can be found online at the Graduate School website.

What prerequisites are required before I apply?

An applicant for admission to the Graduate School must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited American College or University or from a foreign institution of acceptable standing. The applicant should have earned at least a cumulative “B” average in his or her undergraduate courses.

Applicants to the biology graduate program are expected to have completed undergraduate coursework and obtained research experience(s) commensurate with their intended field(s) of graduate study.

What materials am I required to upload?

For admission to a degree program, an applicant is required to submit:

  • one completed Graduate School application form
  • one un-official transcript from each postsecondary institution attended – college, university, or seminary
  • three letters of recommendation from former undergraduate or graduate instructors particularly qualified to attest to the applicant’s qualifications for graduate study
  • a personal Statement of Intent detailing graduate plans and expectations (see below for details)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • scores from the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS if English is not the applicant’s native language or was not the language of instruction for the baccalaureate degree. For the TOEFL, we expect international applicants to have a total score of 250 or above on the CBT or 600 on the paper test. On the TOEFL IBT, the minimum score is a total of 80 points, with a minimum of 23 on the Speaking section. If you are taking the IELTS, the minimum score is 7.0.

What materials are optional to upload?
  • verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores in the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination

What should I include in my personal Statement of Intent?

The statement of intent should capture your intellectual development and interests. It is generally 2–3 double-spaced pages in length. This document is your opportunity to present your case about why you are a strong candidate for enrollment in the graduate program. Guidelines for this document include:

  • Articulate why you have selected your specific program, i.e., how your interests coincide with the research foci of the department
  • Identify the strengths that you would bring to the program (e.g., credentials, experience)
  • Describe your previous research
  • Identify faculty members within the department whose labs match your research interests
  • Explain any unusual situations

What is your application deadline for Fall admission?

The application deadline for Fall admission is December 1.

What is your institution code for the GRE/TOEFL?


What is your department code for the GRE/TOEFL?

For the GRE, our department code is 0299; for the TOEFL, it is 35.

What is the average GRE score of admitted students?

Our average GRE percentile for admitted students is 75% Verbal and Quantitative or higher. Note however that there is no single deciding factor for admission. Each application is evaluated in its entirety.

What is the average GPA of admitted students?

Our average GPA for admissions is 3.5 or higher. Note however that there is no single deciding factor for admission. Each application is evaluated in its entirety.

What is the minimum TOEFL score required?

For the TOEFL, we expect a minimum score of 80 points, with a minimum of 23 on the Speaking section.

My Speaking score on the TOEFL is below 23. Can I still apply?

It is possible that even with a low TOEFL Speaking score, the Admissions Committee could grant you an offer of admission depending on the strength of the rest of your application. It is likely the offer would be contingent on you taking an English-speaking class during your first year at Notre Dame.

I have more specific questions regarding the online application. Where can I find answers?

Please review the Graduate School's FAQ page. If your question is not answered, you can contact the department at