General PhD Program Admissions Questions
How do I apply for the Biology PhD program?
Visit the graduate schools NYU GSAS Application Resource Center. Scroll down for more FAQ's.
The Biology Department's deadline is December 1st. That includes letters of recommendation so please encourage your letter writers to send in their recommendations by the deadline.
Are GRE scores required?
GRE scores are not required and they will not be considered when making admissions decisions.
Is the TOEFL or IELTS required for international students?
Either the TOEFL or the IELTS is required of all applicants who are not native English speakers or who do not have a bachelor's or master's degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English.
Should I call the Department to see if you received everything?
No, instead please refer to the Application Checklist in your online application.
Will my application be considered if my TOEFL scores are received after the deadline?
Yes, all applications will be considered although complete applications are easier for us to evaluate.
Then what happens?
The Admissions Committee reviews applications in late December and students to be interviewed are notified at the end of December. We have 2, two-day Recruitment & Interview events in March, where applicants get a chance to meet the faculty and our current PhD students, tour our newly-renovated Department, see the amazing facilities and experience downtown life in Greenwich Village. We also conduct interviews with students from overseas by phone or via an NYU faculty member traveling to that area. Applicants not selected for an interview will be reviewed for the M.S. in Biology Program.
How do I apply to a lab?
You apply to our program, not to a specific lab. You may have a specific lab or a few labs in mind when you apply, but all applications are read by the Admissions Committee to decide who to interview. It is a good idea to have several possible mentors in mind when you apply since all students spend 8-9 weeks in 3 different labs (rotations) during their first year before picking a mentor for their PhD studies.
Are there minimum GPA and TOEFL scores?
We do not have specific cut-offs – instead we look at your whole application, including GPA, your personal statement, research experience and recommendation letters. The Graduate School recommends a minimum of 100 on the TOEFL Internet test or 600 for the paper-based test and we like this score to be considerably higher.
What do you look for in an applicant?
- A good fit: Are you interested in the Biology that we study here?
- Commitment to research: Do you have research experience? A PhD requires commitment, patience and hard work – do you know what you are getting into?
- A strong academic background: Do you have a good GPA and are you well- grounded in Biology?
Do you fund international students?
All of our PhD students (domestic and international) receive a stipend. They are supported by a combination of MacCracken fellowship funds and research funds from their mentor for a five year award term. Awards also include full tuition and fees for the Ph.D. program, student health insurance, and a one-time $1,000 stipend for start-up expenses.
How many students apply and how many do you admit? How many are international students?
We receive about 250 applications each year and we have been aiming for a class of 15 students. Each year the number of international students varies, but sometimes as many as half of our students are from overseas.
Do you admit in Spring?
No. Our deadline is December 1st to start in the program the following Fall.
What are the differences between the Center for Genomics & Systems Biology, the Center for Developmental Genetics and the Biology Department? Where should I apply?
These are two of the major areas of concentration within the Biology Department and many faculty are in both Centers. All students apply to the Biology Department.
What is the difference between the Biology Department and the Center for Neural Science?
Biology and Neural Science are separate PhD programs at NYU’s Graduate School of Arts & Science. Biology Department professors with strong interests in neurobiology are Justin Blau, Claude Desplan, Esteban Mazzoni and Neville Sanjana. To decide whether to apply to the Biology or Neural Science PhD programs, you should determine which professors you most want to work with and whether they have a primary appointment in Biology or not. Full details of the Neural Science program can be found at https://neuroscience.nyu.edu/
Should I apply to NYU Biology or the Vilcek program?
NYU Biology and NYU's Vilcek Institute of Graduate Biomedical Studies are separate Ph.D. programs, and students should apply to the program whose faculty most closely reflect the student's research interests. NYU Biology is located in NYU's downtown campus, while the Vilcek program is based at NYU'S School of Medicine. A number of NYU Biology faculty are affiliated with Vilcek's Developmental Genetics Ph.D. Training Program or Stem Cell Biology Ph.D. Training Program. NYU Biology Ph.D. students can perform one of their three rotations in a lab that is affiliated with either of these training programs.
Where should I look for financial aid information, including GSAS tuition and fees?
The GSAS website has a Financial Aid section, gsas.nyu.edu/page/grad.financialaid, which provides helpful information including a Financing Graduate Education (PDF) and Tuition & Fees page.
Check your email spam folder
Always check your Spam or Junk folder for correspondence from the schools you have applied to: an important email may accidentally be identified as "unsolicited email" by your spam filter.
How do grades below a B affect my GPA?
GSAS requires students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher and successfully complete 66 percent of points attempted at NYU. A grade below a B, but not a failing grade, may lower a GPA to below a 3.0, depending on the other grades a student has received. A letter grade of ”F” damages the GPA considerably since a 0 is factored into the GPA; however, a grade of “W” (Withdraw) does not affect the GPA. If the student’s GPA falls below a 3.0, the Department is required to prepare an Academic Probation letter which will be given to the student; the letter will provide details regarding the length of time the student has to raise his/her GPA to a 3.0. A copy of the letter must be provided by the Department to the GSAS Office of Academic and Student Affairs.
How do I apply for a grad student Biology travel grant?
A significant component of the professional development of graduate students is attendance at and participation in major scientific meetings in their fields. The department strongly encourages students to report their findings at such meetings and offers travel funds to help defray the cost of attendance. GSAS also provides travel funds, as well as travel grants to support longer visits to other institutions to carry out collaborative research or to learn new techniques. Many of the professional scientific organizations also offer travel fellowships for students. Applications for any of these travel grants should be made as early as possible, generally at the beginning of the academic year but no later than 2 months in advance, as funds are often limited and awards are made competitively.
- Must be a PhD or MS student in good standing in the Department of Biology.
- Travel grants are limited to $500 maximum. You must have funds to cover any remaining expenses (either PI funds or personal funds).
- You are encouraged to present a poster at the annual Department Retreat (PhD students) or annual MS Poster Session (MS students).
- Fill out the application form.
- Send the completed application via email to the Department Adminstrator for the PhD applicants or the Director of the MS Program (email@example.com) for MS applicants. Approval is subject to available funds.
- You will be notified if your application has been approved.
- The award is reimbursement based, so once you have attended the meeting you must retain all your receipts/boarding passes and will submit up to $500 worth of reimbursement requests. This can include airfare or train tickets, hotel or accommodation costs, and registration fees. Reimbursements are submitted via AP Workflow. If you do not have access to AP Workflow, please contact the Budget Assistant to set up your account in the system. If your PI has agreed to cover any additional costs you can request them at the same time in the same AP Workflow transaction (you will need to ask your PI for a chartfield number). You must submit your reimbursement no more than 30 days from the end of your travel.
How do I apply for graduation?
You apply for graduation on ALBERT; Graduation information is available on the Registrar's website. Please keep in mind that you must apply for graduation about three months before you expect to graduate (see the Graduation Deadlines chart for graduation application periods). After you have applied for graduation, the Office of the University Registrar, Graduation Services, will mail a Check Sheet to your mailing address (please be sure that your address is up to date on ALBERT) approximately one month before graduation. The Check Sheet is only for your information; the Department will inform Graduation Services by the deadline on the Check Sheet that you are either “eligible to graduate” (you have completed the 36 points and research paper/thesis for your degree) or “not ready to graduate.”
How do I apply for transfer credit?
Transfer credit should be requested within the first academic year of attendance as a matriculant. Students requesting transfer credit should send an email to the Director of Graduate Studies (for the MS Program, firstname.lastname@example.org, or for the PhD Program, email@example.com); a transcript and course description should be attached to the request (note: a grade below B is not eligible for transfer).
How do I find a research opportunity? (Masters Student)
Research is an important part of your Master’s education at New York University and as such you are probably very interested in finding a good lab to complete the research portion of your degree. The Biology Department faculty (as well as other faculty around NYU and outside) are very much interested in accepting qualified MS students in their labs. However, they receive many emails each day asking for research positions. Below are some suggestions that may help you be more effective as you inquire about research opportunities.
The most important tip we can give it to treat this process professionally! Being offered a research position is indeed a privilege not a guarantee.
- Send the faculty member an original email (no form letters please) explaining who you are. Let them know you are a Master’s student in the Department of Biology and that you are interested in working on a research project in their lab, and would like to meet with them to discuss this prospect.
- Next outline WHY are you are interested in their particular lab and their particular research. Don’t simply say that you want to do research! Do a little background work. Look at the faculty member’s webpage. Read their research statement, and possibly some of their recent publications. Talk to other MS students in their lab if you can. Explain in the email why you want to do research with them. You could mention that you found a certain pub very interesting, and that is why you would like to work on a project in their lab.
- Then cover some logistics. Mention that you plan to take Research credits, and that you would like to write your MS thesis on your laboratory results under his/her mentorship.
- If you have had previous research experience, mention the specific type of projects and/or techniques you have performed.
- You may also want to indicate your current NYU GPA and your undergrad GPA.
Always attach a copy of your master’s program transcript (an unofficial copy is fine) or your undergrad transcript if you are a new MS student. Always attach a resume to the email as well and be sure it includes any past research experience.
Follow up might include a phone call, or a phone message indicating that you recently sent an email to inquire about the possibility of a research position as a Master’s student in the Biology department, and were following up on that email.
If in the event that there are no available positions in the labs you contacted, please see the Director of Graduate Studies, Master Program about other possibilities.
How do I find financial aid information, including GSAS tuition and fees, for this year?
How do I format my Masters Thesis/Qualifying Research Paper?
How do I get a Teaching Adjunct (TA) position in Biology?
There are a limited number of Teaching Adjunct (TA) positions available each semester in the Department of Biology. Students are contacted 3 times a year with an invitation to apply. For full information please see our Teaching Opportunities Page.
There are also teaching opportunities available to 2nd through 5th year students. For full information please see our Teaching Opportunities Page.
How do I maintain my matriculation each Fall and Spring semester?
GSAS students must maintain continuous enrollment each fall and spring semester in their programs from the time of matriculation until the degree is awarded, even if they are not planning to take a course during a specific semester or have completed their degree requirements and are working on their MS research paper/thesis. There are three ways to maintain enrollment in a degree program:
- Registering for at least one credit;
- Enrolling in Maintenance of Matriculation (MAINT-GA 4747), if the points for the degree have been completed and you are working on your MS research paper/thesis (see 5.2 of the GSAS Manual);
- Taking an approved leave of absence (see 5.4 of the GSAS Manual).
Do I need to obtain a Full-time Equivalency if I am taking less than 9 points in a specific semester?
Masters students who are receiving certain kinds of loans or fellowships, as well as international students who are on an F-1 or J-1 visas need to be certified as a full-time student each semester. You are certified as full-time by either registering for 9 points or by obtaining a Full-time Equivalency when registered for less than 9 points but doing an activity such as working on a Masters qualifying paper/thesis or having a Teaching Adjunct position. You can contact the Graduate Advising Coordinator to request that a Full-time Equivalency be posted.
How do I prepare to register for classes?
Before you register for your classes on ALBERT, you should check the semester course offerings to be sure you have the course prerequisites; if a course requires Permission of the Instructor, you must obtain the instructor’s permission before registering. All graduate biology (BIOL-GA) courses require use of a permission code. Students should contact the Graduate Advising Coordinator, for permission codes, either via email or in-person; a permission code is to be used only by the person requesting the code and can only be used once.
As a newly accepted Bio MS student, how do I find out about orientation and registering for classes?
The Department of Biology has an orientation for new students during the first week of the Fall semester; incoming MS students will be sent an invitation via email in August. The Director of the MS Biology program will provide information regarding the MS program and answer questions at this event. GSAS also has a New Student Orientation, for students accepted for the Fall and Spring semesters; GSAS New Student Orientation Series information is available here. The GSAS New Student Checklist provides helpful information, specifically #2, Contact Your Academic Department, and #9, Register for Classes.
I am applying for or have a pre or postdoctoral fellowship. What do I need to know?
Fellowship proposals require the same internal approvals as faculty proposals. Getting institutional signatures take time so please notify the Grants Administrator as soon as possible once you have decided to apply for a fellowship. Please review the NYU Office of Sponsored Program’s proposal development guidelines. When you email the Grants Administrator please include a link to the funding opportunity in the email and prepare the following for the a brief meeting:
- Project Title
- Project Start and End Dates
- Budget: amount to request and preliminary budget breakdown ideas:
- Personnel (Co-Investigators, postdocs, graduate students, consultants, subcontractors)
- Letters of Support or Collaboration
- Human or animal subject approvals, if applicable
Please note that most proposals are now submitted electronically. You may need to register for a username prior to submission. NYU uses Cayuse 424 and Cayuse SP for submission and administration of proposals and awards, which also requires user registration. Details on how to register for each of these user profiles can be found here. If applying for an NIH grant, you must also have an eRA Commons ID and ORCID iD. Please do not wait until the last minute to register. If you are registered already but with a previous institution you must change your affiliate to NYU.
Does a fellowship affect my NYU benefits as a postdoc?
When you are awarded a fellowship, your NYU payroll code will change from 103 (Post Doctoral Associate) to 542/103 (Post Doctoral Fellow). Depending on the funding agency, your mentor/sponsor (lab PI) may be required to re-appoint you for a minimum amount that must be charged to his or her unrestricted account. Typically, this is not required for NIH fellowships (internal) but is required for NSF, HFSP & EMBO (external).
Regardless of the agency providing the stipend, please note that the only benefits you will continue to receive are employee medical and dental. Vision, tuition remission, commuter benefits, retirement, vacation and sick time accruals etc. no longer apply. Please also note that to receive paid bonding leave you must be an employee for 2 consecutive years and time as a fellow will not be counted and may reset your 2 year clock. The department strongly advises you to consult with the Benefits Office regarding the most current policy for a code 103 employee converting to a code 542/103 employee. The Benefits office can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-998-1270.
It can take a month for your payroll code to change within University payroll systems. Please contact the Financial Analyst as soon as you receive the award to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
When you become a code 542/103 your tax status may also change. Please contact NYU payroll at AskPeopleLink@nyu.edu or 212-992-5465 for the most up to date information.
What forms do I need?
- Annual Conflict of Interest/Commitment Disclosure
- Investigator Financial Interest Disclosure
- Mandatory for federally funded researchers
- Submit signed original copy to the Grants Administrator with every proposal submission
- Agreement to Disclose
What trainings do I need?
- CITI Conflict of Interest
- Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)
- Mandatory for: NIH - T, F or K awardees; NSF supported undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdoctoral researchers when the project proposal was submitted on or after January 4, 2010; first or second year PhD candidate in the Biology Department
- Attend Center for Neural Science Sessions in the Spring - more info
- Completed once every four (4) years
Is there a graduation ceremony if I graduate in either September or January?
The GSAS Convocation and the All-University Commencement are held once each year, in May. September and January degree recipients and May degree candidates are sent a GSAS Convocation email invitation from the Graduate School and an All-University Commencement invitation by mail from the Commencement Office by the third week in March.
Please refer to the GSAS Convocation page at http://convocation.gsas.nyu.edu/ for additional information.
What is Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training? Do I have to attend?
According to NIH notice NOT-OD-10-019, the responsible conduct of research (RCR) is defined as the practice of scientific investigation with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientific research. Therefore, instruction in responsible conduct of research is an integral part of all research training programs. NSF considers education in RCR essential in the preparation of future scientists and engineers. You may be required to have RCR certification, depending on which agency funds the research project you work on.
Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training is required for...
- Any undergraduate student, graduate student, or postdoctoral researcher supported by NSF to conduct research on a project whose proposal was submitted on or after January 4, 2010
- Any NIH T, F or K awardee
- All first or second year PhD candidate in the Biology Department
Categories (A) and (B) is required under the terms of your PI's/your grant agreement. Category (C) is recommended as part of your PhD training. Attendance records must be kept for departmental, University, and Federal compliance. Please send a copy of your certificate to the Biology Grants admin so it can be added to your file.
Currently for Biology, this training is achieved through a combination of the three lecture series:
- Center for Neural Science (CNS)
- Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA)
- University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects (UCAIHS)
- The seven (7) CNS sessions are enough to fulfill the RCR requirement. You DO NOT have to take the two (2) OPA sessions and one (1) UCAIHS session in addition to the CNS sessions. However, if you miss one of the CNS sessions you can make it up with the corresponding OPA or UCAIHS course and still fulfill the requirement (see below). Questions: email the Biology Grants Administrator.
CNS RCR Lecture Series program and equivalencies
- Research Misconduct and Conflict of Interest (equivalent to OPA #1)
- Ethical Considerations in Research with Human Subjects (equivalent to UCAIHS #1)
- Publication practice (equivalent to OPA #2)
- Ethical considerations animal
- Data acquisition, Management, Sharing & Ownership
- Survival skills for a career in research
- Mentor/Trainee Responsibilities, and Collaboration in Science
OPA RCR Lecture Series program and equivalencies
- Research Misconduct/Conflict of Interest (equivalent to CNS #1)
- Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research; Publication & Authorship (equivalent to CNS #3)
UCAIHS RCR Lecture program and equivalencies
- IRB Made Easy (equivalent to CNS #2)
Where should I look for graduate academic policies and procedures information?
The Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) has an Academic Policies and Procedures Manual on their web site. Graduate students should be familiar with the academic policies and procedures and consult the manual as needed throughout their graduate career for