FAQ

When are applicants usually notified of admissions decisions?

Final candidates are typically invited to an interview weekend on campus in February. However, not all final candidates interview in person, particularly if visiting campus would require international or extensive travel. Applicants are notified of their acceptance in February or March, and must accept or decline their offer in April. Waitlist notifications can extend into the summer. 

How many applications do you receive per year, and out of those, how many do you usually accept into the program?

The amount of applications received by the program varies from year to year, and has been in the range of 50-75 recently.  The rate of acceptance depends on several different factors, including available space and funding for graduate students. We are currently looking to accept 8 students per year into the Biology Ph.D. program.

Is the GRE exam required for admission into the Biology Ph.D. program?

We do not accept GRE scores because we do not believe that they accurately predict success as a graduate student or as a scientist. If you submit scores, they will not be considered as part of your application.

Is there a GPA requirement?

The Biology Ph.D. program does not have a minimum GPA requirement; applications are evaluated holistically and GPA is one of many considerations. The most important factor in admissions is the fit between you and your potential research advisor. 

Are there any specific undergraduate degree requirements or pre-requisite classes?

As a broad biology department, we welcome and encourage students of all different academic backgrounds! Typically students have taken either a broad distribution of courses for a Biology major, or a narrower range of courses that might be from more specialized majors in Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, or Ecology & Evolution. However, if a student has not taken such courses, they will have the opportunity to take similar courses in their first two years. 

What types of students are typically accepted into the program? Are applicants coming straight from undergraduate work, or do they have previous work experience and/or Master’s degrees?

We are interested in individuals who want to join a vibrant research community, and we believe that diverse perspectives make for stronger science. As for previous experience, some students join the program straight from undergrad, while others have Master’s degrees, and others take time to work between degrees. 

How much does it cost to apply?

The application fee is $90; currently Georgetown does not offer any fee waivers.

Are there examples of successful CVs or statements of purpose that I can read?

We recommend Cientifico Latino as a resource for example CVs, Statements of Purpose, and for information about applying to fellowships. Feel free to contact current graduate students with any questions!

What are the coursework requirements for the program?

The goal of the program coursework is to support and prepare students to excel in their research. The program requires a total of 16 credits; this is easily completed by taking one to two classes per semester in the first two years. Every first year student takes a “Graduate School Survival Skills” course that covers grant writing, presentation skills, and research ethics. The remainder of your credit requirements will be fulfilled by courses that match your specific research interests. 

What are the teaching requirements for the program?

All PhD students in the program must serve as Teaching Assistants (sometimes called Teaching Fellows by the department) for a minimum of two semesters. Some people TA for additional semesters. Teaching Assistants typically run lab or recitation sections for a course that is taught by a professor.

What is the average timeframe for completion of the program?

Our students usually take an average of five years (5.2 years during the last decade) to complete all program requirements. The average time to degree varies by lab; ask the current students and the PI of the lab you are interested in how long it took for recent graduates to complete their degree.

What else should I know about the program? 

We recommend asking questions to make sure that the lab and PI will be a good fit for you, your interests, and your working style. There is no such thing as a perfect advisor; you should look for one with whom you will work well! We strongly encourage you to contact current graduate students with questions about the program, the lab, and the lab culture. During the interview process, PIs will usually set up times for you to talk to current or previous students in the lab. If they don’t, feel free to ask them to put you in touch!

Does the Department of Biology offer a Master’s degree?

No, the only graduate degree offered in the Department of Biology is the Ph.D. For information on other programs and departments that offer Master’s degrees, please refer to the main website for the Georgetown University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Keep in mind that Master’s degrees are typically unfunded, while PhD programs pay your tuition and pay you wages for your work.

Is it possible to complete the program as a part-time student?

Generally, the Ph.D. program is one that is full-time only. However, it may be possible under unusual or extenuating circumstances to consider exceptions.

How expensive is it to live in DC?

The cost of living estimate for the DC area can be found at the MIT Living Wage Calculator. The minimum PhD stipend and PhD benefits are set in the GAGE collective bargaining agreement. A summary of the current graduate students’ housing costs, locations, and advice is shared with new PhD students in early summer before they start, and is available to prospective PhD students upon request. You can read more about the financial support available to graduate workers here; please reach out to any of the current biology graduate workers listed at the bottom of that page with any questions!

Do you accept the IBT (internet based TOEFL) test in lieu of the TOEFL?

Yes, the IBT test is the TOEFL.  This is a required component of the application for all international students whose native language is not English. Additional information on foreign language requirements for Georgetown University can be found on the Application Requirements Checklist page of the website for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

What is the average TOEFL score for students accepted into the program?

Each application is reviewed and considered on an individual case-by-case basis, and these scores can vary.

What if I do not believe my TOEFL scores will be sent to Georgetown University before the application deadline?

Please be advised that while score reports may be received after the application deadline, the test(s) must have been taken before this date, which is December 15th.

Although I submitted my application by the required deadline date, the system is still showing my application as being “incomplete.” Will my application still be considered?

It is important for you to ensure that you submit your application by the deadline. However, sometimes supporting documents to your application (i.e. transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc.) that are sent from third-party sources separately may arrive to the Graduate School Office of Admissions at different times, or may arrive as a hard copy rather than electronically. As the Graduate School Office of Admissions receives a very high volume of applications (often all at once), it may take up to two (2) weeks after the submission deadline date for them to process all application credentials and input them into the system. If, after these two weeks have passed, you notice that your application is still reading as “incomplete,” please contact the Graduate School Office of Admissions directly, and they will do their best to assist you in resolving the situation.

Please be advised that all inquiries directly related to the receipt and processing of application materials must be directed to the Graduate School Office of Admissions, as the Biology office does not directly accept or process any of these documents.