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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

How to Apply to Graduate Program in Biology

Application Deadline

Applications received on or before December 1st will be considered first priority.

Applications received after December 1st will be considered on a space-available basis. Therefore, please submit your application, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts as soon as possible.

What we look for

  • Applicants must have earned a B.S. or a B.A. degree and should have at least a minimal background in both physical and biological sciences, including the following: two years of biology, one year each of introductory chemistry, organic chemistry with laboratory, physics, and college-level calculus. Although not required, a year of biochemistry is desirable for students interested in cell and molecular biology, and training in statistical analysis is useful for students interested in ecology and evolution. Special consideration is given to students who have conducted undergraduate research and whose recommendations attest to their skills in the laboratory or field and promise in research.
  • evidence of promise in advanced study and research
  • Potential Advisors: As part of the online application process, you will be asked to list up to three Biology faculty members as potential research advisors. These should be faculty whose research interests are most similar to your own.

Application Process

Required Application Materials

  • Syracuse University Graduate Application Form (online).
  • There is a $75 application fee. The graduate school currently waives application fees for McNair Scholars, Fulbright students, veterans, and SU alumni. Students from Iran can request a fee waiver directly from the graduate school by emailing grad@syr.edu. The Biology Department additionally has a limited number of fee waivers available. If this fee would cause financial hardship or prevent you from applying to our program, please send an email to biograd@syr.edu to request a fee waiver. In your email, please attach a CV and indicate the reason for your request along with a brief summary of your research interests, including what general area of biology research you would like to pursue at Syracuse University. We recommend indicating specific faculty members from our list of graduate faculty whose research interests match yours.
  • fluent command of the English language—international students for whom English is a second language should submit scores from TOEFL or IELTS. Officials scores must be reported (use CODE: 2823).
  • three strong letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts (unofficial transcripts may be uploaded for review purposes).
  • Although Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are no longer required of all applicants, if you have taken the GRE exam, you may submit your official scores with your application. (To report your official scores to Syracuse University, use code 2823).
  • any other documents required in the online Graduate Application Form
  • Students of any race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, nationality or ethnic origin are considered for admission
  • We do not have any average or minimum required GPA, GRE scores, or TOEFL/IELTS scores. Each applicant is evaluated on an individual basis.
  • Personal Statement: please include a single document addressing the following questions:
    • Provide a summary of your research interests. Explain what general area of Biology research you would like to pursue (e.g. molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, or ecology) and what knowledge, skills, and experiences you hope to gain from our graduate program at Syracuse University. In this response, please name the graduate faculty in the Biology department whose work interests you and why. (300-400 words) Why we are asking this: The Biology Department evaluates each graduate application as a whole, which includes whether the applicant’s interests overlap with faculty research interests in our department. For rotation students (cell/molecular/neuroscience), please name 3 graduate faculty whose research program interests you, as we want to make sure that incoming students have options for potential research mentors.
    • Describe how your background, including both experiences and training, have prepared you for success in graduate school. (300-400 words) Why we are asking this: We are actively working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in our department. We recognize that applicants to our program have a diversity of lived experiences. Graduate school requires strong academic preparation (e.g. verbal, quantitative, and communication skills), as well as life skills that will facilitate your success in our program. Discuss your academic, research, work, and/or volunteer experiences that demonstrate your skills in leadership, work ethic, perseverance, communication, and the ability to work independently or as part of a team. This section may also be used to describe specific research skills that are relevant to obtaining a Biology graduate degree. If you were an author on a publication, please tell us about your specific contributions to that publication.
    • Describe an event in which you experienced failure and the steps you took to overcome the obstacle. (200-250 words) Why we are asking this: Graduate students often experience failure, including having to troubleshoot an experiment, not being awarded a fellowship, having a manuscript rejected from a journal, and needing to change the direction of their research project. How you have responded to past failures can demonstrate your ability to persevere and overcome obstacles in graduate school.

Supplemental Application Materials

Supplemental application materials being mailed to Syracuse University should be sent to one of the following two addresses, depending upon the delivery method:

Via the U.S. Postal Service:

Graduate Admissions Processing
P.O. Box 35060
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13235-5060

Via a package delivery service (e.g., FedEx, UPS, DHL):

Graduate Admissions Processing
716 East Washington Street, Suite 200
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13210-1572

Financial Support

Biology Ph.D. students are supported financially for up to 5 years, and Biology M.S. students are supported financially for their first 2 years in the program. This support typically comes in the form of a teaching assistantship and tuition scholarship during the academic year, with the student free to conduct their research full-time during the summer. Students may also be supported by their faculty research advisor's external grants or by Syracuse University Fellowships. Applying to local and national programs for graduate fellowships is strongly encouraged. For more information about potential external sources of funding, please refer to our Financial Assistance webpage.

Like most graduate programs in the Biological Sciences, we believe our graduate students should be concentrating on their research, not on trying to pay the rent. The current minimum level of support for the 2020-2021 academic year is $27,270 for Biology Ph.D. students, and $19,500 for Biology M.S. students, with the possibility of additional summer support, currently at the level of $2,500. Given Syracuse's low cost of living, this is a comfortable income. In addition, tuition is paid in full, and Syracuse University provides excellent health insurance options. University fellowship recipients, teaching assistants, and research assistants may be eligible for a subsidy towards the cost of the University-sponsored medical and dental/vision plans. Information about the plans is available on the Student Health Insurance Office's website.