Admission Requirements & Deadlines

The deadline for fall admission is December 1. There is no spring admission. We encourage applicants who are interested in the program to complete their application and have all credentials, including letters of recommendation uploaded before this date if possible. The application for Fall 2017 is available online.

Top-ranked applicants being considered for an admissions offer are typically invited to campus to interview. Recruitment interviews and interactions are an important part of our admissions process; should an invited applicant be unable to attend our Recruitment Weekend, alternate arrangements can be made (i.e. Skype interview). Foreign applicants being considered for admission who are unable to attend will be invited to interview with faculty via Skype.

Candidates come from many academic backgrounds; however, matriculating students commonly will have majored in one of the many areas of biology, chemistry or physics. Rather than relying on inflexible admissions criteria, we are searching for applicants who we believe can flourish in the program. Applicants are judged on academic credentials (GPA, GRE scores), their statement of purpose and, especially, on letters of recommendation. Prior research experience is considered particularly useful; however, it is not a prerequisite.

Each application is evaluated as a whole rather than on just one aspect of the package. However, North American students with a grade point average below B are rarely admitted. The median undergraduate grade point average for admitted students is about 3.5. Similarly, verbal GRE scores below 153 (or combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores below 308-310) usually preclude admission, unless there is substantial evidence of potential for academic excellence (for example, superb grades or outstanding research productivity).

Applicants will be required to supply the following items:

  • Current transcripts for all colleges attended should be uploaded into the application (Note: Official transcripts are not required at time of application).
  • Official GRE scores: Scores should be sent from ETS to Cornell University, university code #2098 (department code is not required). We highly encourage applicants to self-report scores if they are known; the admissions committee can use these scores for evaluation prior to receipt of official scores.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for applicants whose native language is not English. This is a university requirement and the Graduate School has set minimum scores for each section of the test: Reading – 20; Writing – 20; Listening – 15; Speaking – 22. To be considered for admission, an applicant must receive at least the minimum score on each individual section of the test. Those taking the IELTS tests must score 7.0 or higher. Official scores should be sent from ETS to Cornell University, university code #2098 (department code is not required). Applicants should self-report their scores in the application if possible; these scores can be used for evaluation prior to the official scores being received.
    (Please note: The Graduate School will continue to accept scores for Paper-based (550 minimum) version of the test taken within two years of the date the student submits an application for admission).
  • Advanced Subject Test (generally in the areas of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, or Biology) is highly recommended but not required. (Applicants who demonstrate mastery of relevant subjects by means of high grades in upper level courses do not need to have an Advanced Subject GRE test score. However, a strong advanced GRE score provides an advantage in the admissions process.)

Admissions Decision Timeline: The BMCB Admissions Committee will meet weekly starting in late November to evaluate completed applications. A select number of applicants will be invited to interview at our on-campus Recruitment events in February. Invitations are extended in December. Those who are unable to attend our Recruitment events (i.e. some international applicants residing outside the U.S.) are offered Skype interviews.

Diversity & Inclusion

The BMCB graduate student community is a vibrant and diverse one. Our students come from all areas of the globe and all walks of life. The Field actively seeks individuals from underrepresented ethnic groups. We are committed to the equality of educational opportunity and success for all students, including students with disabilities, who are encouraged to apply. To this end, we have established a partnership with the Cornell University Student Disability Services Office.