Admission Requirements

Speaker at a presentation

Admission Requirements

Applicants will need to provide:

  • college transcript
  • contact information for three references
  • statements about research experience and motivation for graduate study
  • international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL or IELTS
  • GRE scores are optional. If you have taken the test they can be helpful for us, particularly if: you are an international student, you did very well on the GRE, or your GPA is low. It will not count against you if you do not submit scores! So it is really up to you- if you think it will help you, submit them; if not, then don't

Successful applicants will typically have:

  • independent research experience (this is usually the most important part of the application)
  • GPA above 3.0, with coursework in biochemistry, molecular and/or cell biology, physics, chemistry, and calculus
  • international applicants: TOEFL scores of 100 or more, with 23 on the speaking section for the internet-based test, or IELTS above 7
  • These are general guidelines. If you are weak in one area, but strong in another, we take that into account. Again, we particularly value research experience and motivation to be trained as an independent scientist!

How to Apply

Application Deadline: Application review begins December 1; all applications are due by December 15.

  • Review the MCIBS program admission requirements above
  • Review the Penn State Graduate School's admission requirements
  • Submit your application to the Penn State Graduate School and pay the associated application fee


The online application is run by the graduate school. Please make sure to follow these directions to get your application to MCIBS:

  • In the "campus" pulldown menu, select "University Park"
  • In the "major" pulldown menu, select "Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Biosciences"
  • In the "degree" pulldown menu, select "PH D" (MCIBS does not accept MS applications)
  • In the "option" pulldown menu, select "none"
  • In the "semester" pulldown menu, select "Fall (and then the following year)" (MCIBS only takes new students in the fall of each year)

The following documents will be collected electronically as part of the Graduate School application process:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Curriculum Vitae / Resume
  • Transcript(s) - If you have already mailed your transcript(s) to Penn State, please upload a document that indicates such

You will be asked to do the provide the following information regarding your motivation for graduate study, including:

  • Describe your past research. We really want to see that you were engaged in research and can describe your project(s) clearly
  • Identify three faculty in MCIBS with whom you are potentially interested in working and why
  • Any other information that you think is important, for example interest/experience in promoting diversity and inclusion or science outreach

Please note:

The graduate programs and the Penn State Graduate School are committed to verification of application materials; therefore, please ensure that all of your documents can be readily verified as being accurate and authentic.

Admission is granted jointly by the Penn State Graduate School and the MCIBS graduate program.