Graduate Admissions Requirements
The Department accepts applications throughout the year and students can begin their program during any semester, though the majority of students start their program at the beginning of the fall semester. The University recommends that applications be complete a minimum of two months before the intended start date, and several months earlier than this if applying for financial aid. Most graduate student programs in our department require outside funding to support the research and to provide a Research Assistantship for the student.
Open positions in our graduate program depend upon available funding, and the timing and number of positions can be unpredictable. Positions are filled on a rolling basis as highly qualified students apply. Hence, we strongly encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, to ensure that you are considered for all appropriate openings. In addition, to be given full consideration for Departmental recruiting fellowships, your application needs to be complete by February, and to compete for a University Distinguished Fellowship your application must be complete by January 1.
Graduate openings are generally in specialized areas, and your background and interests play a large role in how competitive you are for a specific opening. You are encouraged to contact individual faculty members who have research interests that match your own, and might serve as your Major Advisor. You are also encouraged to apply and compete for appropriate non-MSU fellowships, such as those that are awarded by the National Science Foundation and to highlight any such awards in your Statement of Purpose included with your application. Receiving these awards can increase your chances for admission.
To apply to any degree program you must be in your senior year or a graduate of a Bachelor's degree program comparable to that offered by MSU. To begin a Master's degree you must have completed a Bachelor's degree. To begin a Ph.D. program you ordinarily will need to have completed a Master's degree or the equivalent. Typically, the undergraduate major and prior graduate studies will be in an area of the biological or other relevant sciences, and must include course work appropriate to support the graduate program. Students lacking sufficient course work may be admitted provisionally until such deficiencies are removed by completion of collateral courses.
Ordinarily, a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) during the last two years of an undergraduate degree and in prior graduate programs is required for admission to any status (regular or provisional). The department faculty have agreed to consider provisional acceptance of students with GPAs in the range of 2.75-3.0. This exception is only made under unusual circumstances where there is strong evidence indicating likely success in graduate studies. Current departmental practice is to not consider students for admission if their GPA is below 2.75. Acceptance into the department is competitive and the 3.0 GPA requirement is a minimum standard, not a guarantee of acceptance. In recent years, the average GPA of incoming graduate students has exceeded 3.5. Applicants who are not native speakers of English must demonstrate proficiency in English. MSU's requirements for English language proficiency for prospective graduate students are summarized here.
Applications are reviewed and evaluated in light of information contained in transcripts, letters of reference, examination scores, and in supporting information supplied by the student. There is no specific required GRE score, but examination results are weighed in admission decisions along with other information.
The General GRE exam is required and an advanced exam (usually Biology) is recommended.