Requirements and Materials Needed to Apply

Applications are welcomed from students with ambition, enthusiasm, and interest in cutting-edge research who are seeking a challenging graduate level program to prepare for careers in research, teaching, industry or public service.
We particularly encourage students from underserved, underrepresented and/or disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to MCDB. Our department believes that a diverse workforce is key to success. We strive to be inclusive and to recruit and foster a diverse student body. Underrepresented students interested in applying to MCDB are highly encouraged to participate in the The Colorado Advantage Program, which is a CU Boulder STEM graduate program preview weekend that MCDB participates in.
To further lower the barrier for underrepresented students, we removed the consideration of GRE scores from our application process in 2018 in response to evidence that the GRE is not a predictor of academic performance, but rather reflects the inequities in socioeconomic status, race, and gender. Fee waivers or reimbursement are available to individuals from groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis (see data through the NSF and the report Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering), as well as people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Application Deadlines

December 1 – Final deadline for both domestic and international students.
Study begins in the fall semester only.

Entrance Requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.75 (on a 4-point scale).
  • Preferred prior research experience beyond basic class-associated lab courses (however, not required)
  • Coursework – courses and/or demonstrable competency in the following areas is preferred:  Genetics; Cell Biology; Developmental Biology, General and Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Mathematics (i.e. Calculus and/or Statistics) and General Physics. Strong applicants who lack coursework in some of these specific areas will still be considered.

Application Requirements (Submitted through the Online Application link below) :

  • University of Colorado Application
  • Curriculum Vitae (2 pages maximum)
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or others qualified to evaluate your potential for graduate study
  • Personal Statement (2 pages maximum)
    Your personal statement should provide the admissions committee information you think is important/relevant to their decision.  Some people focus on their own research, while others take different approaches. For example if there are extenuating circumstances related to your credentials or application, this is a good place to describe them. Be sure to explain your interest in MCDB.
  • Nonrefundable application fee ($60 domestic; $80 international). 

    The Graduate School offers application fee waivers for participants in the following programs: AmeriCorps (currently serving), Black in AI (BAI), Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative, Gates Millennium Scholars, Leadership Alliance, Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), McNair Scholars Program, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar Program, Peace Corps (currently serving), Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), SMART, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and Teach for America. If you are affiliated with one of these programs, please send us proof of your affiliation to after you have started an application and before you submit, and we will process your fee waiver for you. 

    If you are in the U.S. military you will receive an automatic fee waiver as a thank you for your service (active duty, veteran, previously served, and active reserve are all eligible for this automatic fee waiver).

    For more information or to request a waiver, please contact Sarah Morehead at: 

Submit the following required documents directly to the University of Colorado (see link below):

  • For review and decision purposes you are required to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) in the online application. Your application requires one copy of the scanned transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution that you attended. This includes community colleges, summer sessions, study abroad, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, unofficial transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of how long you attended or whether or not you completed the courses. High School transcripts are not requested.  Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the University. 
  • Note: You will be required to provide official transcripts once you have accepted your offer of admission.  Do not submit these official copies for the review process.
  • International Applicants must also submit an Official TOEFL (institution code 4841) or IELTS Score unless you meet the criteria for the following exceptions:
    • You are from a country where the primary language is English.
    • You have spent one year minimum at a university where the instruction language was English.
    • You have spent the last three years in an English speaking country.

    The TOEFL requirement for MCD Biology is 600 (paper based); 250 (computer based); 100 (internet based). The IELTS requirement is 6-7.

Online Application

Please refer all questions to Sarah Morehead at 
Note: GRE is not required and will not be considered in the admissions decision if the student chooses to provide it.