PMB Admissions: Application FAQ

When is the application deadline?
December 1.

Do you take applications after the deadline?
Yes, but late applications may not be fully considered (depending on timing). Contact the program office at to find out if the program is still accepting applications for a particular semester.

Do you admit for spring semester?
It is very rare for students to start in spring semester. Most students start the program in the fall.

How do students find an adviser?
There are different paths to finding an advisor. Some students have well developed interests and have had extensive communication with one or more faculty members before they are admitted. For these students, they may have an advisor arranged before they arrive. Other students may be considering several potential advisors. Those students have the opportunity to conduct rotations in different research laboratories. Upon completion of these rotations (after the first semester), students may select an advisor.

In any case, do take time to identify faculty members in PMB whose research and academic interests are similar to yours. While you do not need to have a formal agreement with a particular faculty member before applying or matriculating, establishing connections to potential faculty advisors gives you a foundation to build on once you commence your degree program in PMB. Review the list of our faculty members and their research areas.

Contact professors individually about the possibility of working with them. Send them each your information—research/professional interests, educational and work or research experience, goals, CV, plus unofficial transcripts, if you have these already. Professors are always happy to hear from potential graduate students

Should I contact individual faculty regarding my admission or to evaluate my credentials?
You are strongly encouraged to contact faculty members to discuss research interests, whether the professor(s) with whom you are interested in working are taking students, and whether your interests and experiences are a good fit with their lab(s). However, final admission decisions are determined by an admissions committee.

What makes a particular application stand out?
Research experience! The most successful applicants have significant research experience. They are able to effectively describe the rationale and biological context for their research, as well as what was accomplished.

What is required for the personal statement?
The personal statement is required. It is an integral part of your application; the PMB admissions committee will read it closely for content and coherence.

Please limit this statement to no more than a total of three (3) pages with 1-inch margins and 12-point font. Upload this document under the "Personal Statement" slot on the "Materials" section of the online application.

Your statement should outline your:

  • personal, educational, and work background
  • what motivates you
  • research experience
  • research interests and why this interests you
  • career goals and your view of how graduate school will help you attain those goals
  • why you are interested in PMB

In this statement, please list the PMB faculty member(s) with whom you wish to work.

Is there a page limit for the personal statement?
Your personal statement/description of research should be no longer than three (3) single-spaced pages with 1-inch margins and 12-point font.

Do I need to submit a separate description of research document?
No, you do not need to submit a separate description of research document. Include a description of your research experience and interests in your personal statement.

What is the diversity statement?
The diversity statement is an opportunity for you to provide a second statement on the topic of diversity. Please write about the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to PMB and to the education of fellow students at the University of Minnesota. You may wish to include examples that address your contribution to the diversity of the student body and illustrate your motivation to succeed by setting high standards for accomplishing intellectual and other goals, overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or helping others to gain access to the resources necessary for success.

What is the average GPA score needed for admittance?
Competitive applications will have GPAs of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale).

What classes do I need to take to be eligible for admission?
No specific classes are required, but you should have a strong educational background in biology and related sciences. For students with demonstrated academic abilities, coursework deficiencies can be filled during the first year of graduate study.

Do you require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
No. The GRE is not required for admission to PMB. Note that the online application system is used university-wide and still includes a spot to submit GRE scores. We cannot remove this GRE field. You may self-report scores, but these will not be included in the application review process.

Is the TOEFL, IELTS or other English proficiency exam required for international students?
Yes. Official scores for an English proficiency test is required of most international applicants whose native language is not English prior to enrollment or the issuance of visa documents. Scores must be under two years old. If you have been in the United States for two years or more,  score is not required. Please note that test scores may not be available for 4-6 weeks after you take the test, and plan accordingly. 

What is your institutional code for the English proficiency exams?
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities code is 6874. No department code is needed.

How many letters of recommendation do I need?
Three letters are required. Letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with your academic and research capabilities are strongly encouraged. Acceptable recommendations will come from current or former professors who can assess your potential for graduate work. Additional referees, such as employers, are also acceptable. Names and complete contact information for the three referees must be entered online.

Be aware that letters of recommendation are a key part of every application, so think carefully about who you ask to write letters in support of your application, and ask those people to be thorough and thoughtful. 

How should my letter writers submit their recommendations?
Referees will be sent instructions from the online application system via email. Letter writers should directly upload their letters to your online application. If letter writers are unable to upload letters online, they may email them directly to

Do you admit international students?
Yes. International students will be contacted for a video conference interview prior to receiving an offer of admission.

How do I apply?
You must apply via the UMN online graduate school application.

Do you accept paper application materials? 
No. You must upload all materials to your online graduate school application, including transcripts. Do not send any paper copies to the Graduate School Admissions Office or to PMB.

Do I need to provide official transcripts?
Official transcripts are not required at the time of application. If admitted, you will need to provide official transcripts.

What do I do if I forgot to upload something and I already submitted my application?
E-mail for assistance help. Do not mail any paper documents to the Graduate School Admissions Office or to PMB.

Do I have to pay the Graduate School application fee?
Yes. The application fee is $75 for domestic students and $95 for international students. This fee may be waived in some specific, limited circumstances. Please see the application fee waiver information.

How do I know if my application is being considered for admission?
The PMB Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications in December, immediately after the application deadline. Invitations to visit the UMN campus for an in-person interview will go out by early January.

When is the campus visit? will domestic applicants be invited to campus? 
PMB holds a campus visit for domestic applicants in late February/early March by invitation only. You will be notified via email if you are invited to attend.

The Admissions Committee will arrange video conference interviews with international applicants who are strong candidates for admission.

Do you pay travel expenses for domestic applicants invited for the campus visit?
Yes, we cover the expense of travel, lodging, and some food during your visit.