Prospective M.S. Students

Directions and the application for applying to the this and other graduate programs can be found at the School of Graduate Studies under the "Admission to Graduate Study" link of the Graduate Studies webpage. Select "Application Information" from the menu on the right. Note that the application form must be submitted online, and official GRE scores, official transcripts, and the application fee must be sent to either the Graduate School or the Office of International Admissions.

In addition to the general requirements for admission to graduate programs in the School of Graduate Studies and the College of Humanities and Sciences, the Department of Biology has the following requirements and minimum standards for admission:

  • bachelor's degree in biological or related science or equivalent
  • appropriate college-level background in mathematics, chemistry, and physics
  • three letters of recommendation pertaining to the student's potential ability as a graduate student in biology
  • student's "Statement of Purpose" essay (see specific guidelines below
  • transcripts of all previous college work
  • satisfactory score on the GRE (general test)

Admission to the Biology Graduate Program is based upon undergraduate performance, satisfactory scores on the GRE and letters of recommendation. Applicants typically have a 3.0 GPA or greater on undergraduate work and competitive verbal and quantitative GRE scores.

The graduate application requires a “Statement of Purpose” essay in which applicants review their research interests and describe what they want to do with their degree. To the general instructions from the graduate school, we add the following departmental requirements for applicants to the MS in Biology. Essays should be 1-2 pages long (12 pt font, single spaced) and should concisely address these six areas:

  1. Your career goals
  2. How the MS in Biology will help you achieve these goals (i.e., Why you chose to apply to the VCU MS in Biology graduate program)
  3. What preparatory experiences have you had that will make you a successful graduate student/researcher
  4. What kind of research you are interested in and why
  5. What Biology faculty research labs match your interests and goals
  6. Whether or not you have contacted any faculty in our program and discussed joining their lab

Completion of a research thesis is a major part of the MS program in biology; therefore, identification of a faculty mentor is required for acceptance to the program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to begin this process before they apply by reading through faculty web pages, identifying potential mentors that overlap with your research interests, and initiating a dialogue with them via email or phone about the prospects for joining their lab. Applicants who already have support from specific faculty are more likely to be admitted and receive some financial support.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications to the Master of Science in biology program is January 15 for students who wish to be given highest preference for the following fall semester. Qualified applicants to the program may receive funding as teaching assistants or research assistants. Because funds sometimes become available after the application deadline, potential applicants are encouraged to contact the director of the graduate program in biology for additional information at any time. Students may also apply for admission to begin study in the spring or summer semesters.

M.S. in Biology Program Requirements

The VCU Bulletin is the official source of information for program requirements in all degree and certificate programs. Visit the current M.S. in Biology bulletin.