Application FAQ

Below is a list of frequently asked questions. Please contact us if you have questions that are not answered below.

How many students do you accept every year?

Between our two programs (MCEB and EEOB), we receive ~160 applications each year, and typically accept ~10-15% of those applicants. Our average class size is 15-20 students.

Does the School of Biological Sciences Graduate Program accept part-time students?

The School of Biological Sciences PhD Program is a full-time program. Students who are admitted into the SBS Master of Science Program may, in consultation with their mentor, enroll full-time or part-time.

How long does it take to get a PhD?

We strive for our PhD students to complete their degree in 5 years or less.

What kind of academic background is required?

EEOB Program: Typically, applicants have an undergraduate degree in biology or related sciences. Ideally, the undergraduate record should be strong in all areas.  All applicants, regardless of major, should show evidence of ability to perform well in science courses, particularly those stressing quantitative skills. Many successful applicants have had some sort of independent laboratory or field work experience indicative of an informed commitment to a research career. This experience should be detailed in the personal statement section of the application.

MCEB Program: Ideally, the undergraduate record should be strong in all areas with evidence of substantial preparation for advanced study in the research areas covered by the MCEB program. The ability to perform well in science courses, particularly those stressing quantitative skills, is most important. Many successful applicants have had some sort of independent laboratory or field work experience indicative of an informed commitment to a research career. This experience should be detailed in the personal statement section of the application.

Do I have to contact a faculty member prior to submitting my application?

We encourage applicants to contact biology faculty members with which they might be interested in working. Faculty contact information can be found on our website – SBS Faculty. Generally, students interested in the EEOB program will enter directly into the laboratory of their mentor when they begin graduate school. It is, therefore, critical that EEOB candidates contact potential mentors early (prior to application deadline) to determine compatible interests and availability of positions. MCEB students most often enter into the first-year rotation program, where three different labs are sampled during the first year and a thesis mentor is chosen from among these three. MCEB students who plan to enter the rotation program may also contact potential mentors early in the application process, though it is not required. In special cases MCEB students may directly join a specific laboratory when they enter graduate school. In such cases, students should contact potential mentors prior to the application deadline.

How do I submit an online application?

To access the online application, please click on the following link:

Apply Now - New Window

  • Please be aware you will be leaving the University of Utah School of Biological Sciences Graduate Program site and going to the online application system: ApplyYourself (AY) with Hobsons. Your information is transmitted through a secure server.
  • You will need to "Create an Account" and register to begin your application process. Please make sure to save your PIN number to get back into your application. In addition to your PIN number, the system will have you choose a password that you will need to remember if you wish to access or complete your application at a later date.  The online application is free.

How do I upload documents to my online application?

To upload paper documents, you need to scan them with a scanner/printer, save them in .pdf file format, and then upload the files in the appropriate place.  If you have several pages for your transcript, for example, then you will scan each page then merge all pages into one document and then save.  The file cannot exceed 2500 KB in size and you may need to reduce the file size. You can reduce document size or optimize scanned pdf file to make the document smaller. These functions can be found under the document tab of Adobe Acrobat.  Do not attempt to upload a document that is password-protected or that contains macros as it would cause the process to fail.


In the Education section of the AY application, please upload pdf copies of ALL of your official transcripts from each college or university attended (college/university level only). These transcripts will be used as working copies during the admissions evaluation process. Transcripts sent to the Office of Admissions will not be uploaded to the AY application on your behalf.

What is the application fee?

The online application is free for applicants to the School of Biological Sciences programs.

What is the average GPA score?

Minimum GPA:  3.0
Average GPA:    3.4

When making a decision, we consider all materials supplied by the applicant, not just the GPA.

What are the TOEFL / IELTS requirements and waivers?

English proficiency may be demonstrated by graduate applicants in one of the following ways:

  • TOEFL: minimum score of 80 (Internet-based test) or 550 (paper-based test)
  • IELTS: An overall minimum band score of 6.5
  • An associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from a regionally-accredited U.S. college or university completed within two years of admittance
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher completed within the last two years from an officially-recognized college or university in one of the following countries: the United States, Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland).

All TOEFL and IELTS test dates must be within two years of admission for scores to be valid.  The Biology Graduate Program does not accept TOEFL or IELTS scores that expire prior May 1, 2020.

The following applicants do not need to submit proof of English proficiency:

  • Native speakers of English who are citizens of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Continuing students currently enrolled at the University of Utah and moving from one-degree level to another, or one program to another (with a break of no more than two years between the 'change' from one degree level/program to the next).

If an applicant does not meet one of the standards outlined above, but feels their professional and/or educational experience merits English proficiency, please contact the International Admissions Office ( for information on filing a Petition for English Proficiency.

When should I take the TOEFL/IELTS?

The results for the ETS TOEFL will be available 10-15 days after the test date.  The IELTS will be available 13 days after the test date.  Please upload your scores in the "Post Submission" section of your AY application no later than the SBS application deadline.

What is the institution code?

TOEFL: The institution code for the University of Utah is 4853.
IELTS: Please contact your testing center to have the scores sent to the University of Utah. 

Can I submit GRE, GMAT or MCAT test scores?

These tests are not required, nor will they be considered in evaluating applicants.

Writing Sample-Essay-Publication?

Not required

My recommenders have not submitted letters of recommendation. What should I do?

Three letters of recommendation must be submitted into the "ApplyYourself" system by your recommenders by the application deadline. You can log back into your application and resend the recommender notification.  If you would like to send a reminder, check the box next to his/her name and click on the "resend" button. This will automatically generate a reminder email.  Applicants who apply to the Biology Graduate Program must waive their right to view recommendation forms and letters.  This is done through the recommendation section in ApplyYourself.

When is the deadline?

The application deadline for fall 2021 is December 1, 2020.

December – mid January:   Review of applications
February 12-13, 2021:   Interview visits for applicants residing in North America
mid to late February:   Applicants are notified of admissions decision
April 15:  Decision date for acceptance of admission offers by applicants.

How will I know if I am accepted?

In general, promising candidates will first be interviewed by SBS faculty, in person or by teleconference. After these interviews, candidates who are selected for admission will receive a letter from the SBS Graduate Program offering admission, and spelling out the conditions of admission and details of financial support. Your official acceptance letter (and I-20 certificate for international students) will come from the University of Utah Office of Admissions after they review your documents and determine that you have meet the Graduate School admissions requirements. The official acceptance letter will be sent by postal mail and will contain your student ID number and important registration information. Your accepted status is not official until you receive both letters.

What are the financial benefits?

Ecology, Evolution & Organismal Biology Program benefits
Molecular, Cellular and Evolutionary Biology Program benefits