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Application Guidelines

We have closed Fall 2019 and we are not accepting additional applications.

We encourage you to apply next year for Fall 2020.

Please review all of the application instructions and Frequently Asked Questions before applying.

Contact us if you have additional questions. Please note that we only admit in the Fall.


Online Application

  • Please be aware you will be leaving the University of Utah Bioscience Graduate Programs 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.
  • To avoid confusion and delays in processing applications, you can only apply to one of the two Programs: Molecular Biology PHD or Biological Chemistry PHD for Fall 2019.  See our Program Comparison page for more details.
  • The online application is free.  The application fee for the Molecular Biology PHD or Biological Chemistry PHD will be waived. Furthermore, we do not require official transcripts or official GRE or TOEFL scores from ETS for the initial review.
  • Contact us if you have additional questions


Application Checklist

✓ Online Application
✓ Research Statement
✓ Curriculum Vitae (CV)
✓ GRE Scores
✓ Transcripts
✓ Letters of Recommendation
✓ TOEFL/IELTS Score (international students only)

Competitive applicants should have a science background and research experience.

All portions of the application packet carry equal weight.  However, shortcomings in one area of the application may be balanced by strengths in another. Meaningful, hypothesis-driven research experience for which the applicant had primary responsibility is one of the best ways to strengthen an application.

The following are common components of successful applicants:

  • Meaningful, hypothesis-driven research experience for which the applicant had primary responsibility
  • Strong letters of recommendation, particularly from research advisors
  • Publication record in PubMed-listed journals
  • Consistent record of academic excellence


Documents Required

 ApplyYourself (AY) Online Application

This application alone often enables us to identify the most promising applicants, and should be submitted as early as possible with all of the required documents uploaded.

Note - The application can be submitted in ApplyYourself before all three letters of recommendation have been received.

This system is for US and International applicants.

After you create your account and begin an application select "Salt Lake City Campus" and Intended graduate program and degree as either "Biological Chemistry PHD" or "Molecular Biology PHD". The Application Term and Year is "Fall 2019". Leave dual degree and emphasis options blank.

Students should identify the Program that best accommodates their research interests and provides the most appropriate core curriculum. Some of the most important similarities and differences between the MB and BC Programs are highlighted in our detailed Program Comparison page. Please be aware that you can only apply to the Programs a total of three times.

There is no fee associated with submitting an application.  We do not require an application fee, nor do we require applicants to send official transcripts or test scores for the initial review.  Moreover, all students admitted to the program receive a stipend, tuition waiver and health insurance. A separate application for financial support is not required.


How do I upload documents to my online application?

To upload paper materials 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 in to 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.

If you are an applicant with education outside the US, do not complete the GPA section.

 GRE Scores

In the "GRE GMAT Scores" section enter your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude test information and scores.  Upload a copy of your score sheet(s) with your application in the “Post Submission” section. You do not need to send an official score sheet(s) for the initial review. The institution code for the University of Utah is 4853. Please allow several days for processing.  We recommend uploading the .pdf instead to avoid delays.

A subject test is not required, however, if you are planning to take a subject test, we recommend that you take the Biology or the Chemistry test.  The GRE Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Test that was discontinued in December 2016 was previously recommended.

GRE scores are considered expired if taken before May 1, 2014.

 Curriculum Vitae (CV)

In the “Curriculum Vitae/Resume” section in the AY application upload a .pdf copy your CV. A sample CV can be viewed here.

 Research Statement

In the “Statement of Purpose” section of the AY application, a research statement (2-3 pages) should be uploaded to the AY application. It should be articulate and give evidence of a strong commitment to research. Please include the following information:

  1. A description of your present academic interests and long-range career goals
  2. A summary of previous experience including laboratory research
  3. Reasons for applying to the program
  4. A description of your scientific interests and a list of faculty whose research interests are compatible with your own. (Although it is not essential to have specific research interests at this point, it is important that students admitted to the Program have several potential research advisors. Details about participating faculty can be found here.)

 Three Letters of Recommendation

In the “Recommendations” section in the AY application form, please add the email addresses and information for three letters of recommendation writers. Add people familiar with your research potential. 3 letters of recommendation are required, but up to 4 may be submitted. The letters must be on letterhead, have a valid signature, and be submitted through the ApplyYourself Recommendation system.

Your recommenders must submit your letters of recommendation by the December 1 deadline. Please note that notification emails will indicate "University of Utah - Graduate" as the sender but will come from If your recommenders use a spam-blocking tool, please ask them to add this email address to their list of known/safe addresses.

We recommend adding the deadline of December 1 in the personal note section at the bottom when you add a recommendation provider. You can log back into your application and resend the recommender notification. You can also add new recommenders and make some edits to previously added recommender provider information.

TOEFL/IELTS Score (international students only)

International students should upload a copy of your score sheet(s) with your application in the “Post Submission” section. You do not need to send an official score sheet(s) for the initial review. If you are accepted you will need to arrange to have an official copy of your scores sent to the Program. These scores will need to be valid for the beginning of the fall semester.

TOEFL/IELTS are considered expired if taken before May 1, 2017. University policy states that applicants must have a minimum TOEFL score of 80 iBT (550 pBT) or better, or a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5 or better. (Minimum score requirements are subject to change).

The TOEFL Department Codes are Molecular Biology: 74 and Biological Chemistry: 34
Please allow several days for processing official scores.  We recommend uploading the .pdf instead to avoid delays.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit the TOEFL or IELTS examination for consideration or satisfy requirements that waive the English proficiency requirement. The University Office of Admissions determines exceptions to the TOEFL/IELTS examination requirements.

Please visit this site for more information about requirements and waivers:

Please note that class instruction in English does not meet this requirement. Typical English proficiency waivers are:

 - 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:

Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

If necessary, the Bioscience PhD Program Office will provide a Letter of Support for a English Profieceny Petition for students who have already received and accepted an offer from the Admissions Committee.  Please do not contact individual faculty to request a Letter of Support.


 When uploading your documents DO NOT upload items that are not requested (i.e. awards, certificates,                        publications, etc.)

If you have additional items that you feel are important to your admission please list these in the "Work/Professional Experience" section or in the "additional information" field of the online application.


Application Timetable

December 1 Deadline for Domestic and International Students
January 22 - March 8 Interview visits for applicants residing in the U.S.
February 9 - March 31 Applicants are notified of Admissions decision
April 15 Deadline for accepted applicant to accept offer

The University of Utah has an ongoing institutional commitment to the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 resolution regarding offers of financial aid associated with an offer of graduate admissions. The University of Utah is signatory to this resolution, as well as nearly 400 major graduate institutions across the nation.
More information may be found at the Council of Graduate Schools website at:


Admissions Criteria

Admission decisions are based on the following factors (not necessarily listed in order of importance):

Educational Background

Applicants should have some undergraduate training in biochemistry, genetics, cell biology, or biology. Students with strong chemistry, physics or mathematics backgrounds are encouraged to apply even if they have not had extensive coursework in molecular biology. Deficiencies in basic undergraduate courses can be remedied in the first year of graduate school. 

Undergraduate Performance

Ideally, the undergraduate record should demonstrate consistent academic excellence. However, the most important aspect of undergraduate transcripts is evidence of ability to perform well in science courses, particularly those stressing quantitative skills.

Research Experience

Many successful applicants have had independent laboratory experience indicative of an informed commitment to a research career. These applicants focus on meaningful, hypothesis-driven research experience for which they had primary responsibility.

Summer research programs, such as the University of Utah SPUR Program, are ways for applicants to increase and strenthen research experience and provide opportunities for strong letters of recommendation from research advisors.


Strong statements of support from persons in a position to evaluate the applicant's potential for success as a graduate student have significant impact on admissions decisions. Letters from research advisors are particularly important.

GRE Scores

A strong performance on this test can carry considerable weight. In evaluating the performance on the advanced test, if taken, allowances are made for differences in undergraduate preparation.

Research Statement

The most compelling research statements demonstrate the applicant’s commitment to research and quality of past research experiences.


International students must demonstrate English proficiency through one of criteria listed at International Graduate Students English Proficiency.


Personal Interview (residents in the U.S. only)

Promising applicants are invited to visit the University of Utah to meet graduate students and faculty members and to learn more about the graduate program, the university, and the local environment.


Nondiscrimination and Disability Accommodation Statement

"The University of Utah does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, status as a disabled individual, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, genetic information or protected veteran's status, in employment, treatment, admission, access to educational programs and activities, or other University benefits or services. Additionally, the University endeavors to provide reasonable accommodations and to ensure equal access to qualified persons with disabilities. Inquiries concerning perceived discrimination or requests for disability accommodations may be referred to the University's Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 201 South Presidents Circle, Rm.135, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112, 801-581-8365 (voice/tdd), 801-585-5747 (fax), or online at:"

The Bioscience PhD Programs are dedicated to enriching an already diverse student training environment. We collaborate with university entities to create a campus climate that accommodates and is inclusive to all members of the graduate community.



Please do not mail application materials unless directed to do so.

Molecular Biology Program
University of Utah

26 South 2000 East
Building 575, Rm 3650 HSEB
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-5750

Biological Chemistry Program
University of Utah

26 South 2000 East
Building 575, Rm 3650 HSEB
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-5750

If you have questions/concerns, please email our office.

Phone: (801) 581-5207

Last Updated: 12/14/18